On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles like ‘tongues of fire’ and they begin to speak in other languages. The people are amazed at this miracle and about 3000 are baptised that day. Wait, no. That’s not what it says in Acts 2. They began to speak in other languages and the people were confused. Some were ‘amazed and perplexed’ and others thought the Apostles were drunk. So what happened to turn confusion into conversion? Peter, the rough and ready fisherman with no formal schooling, stood up and addressed the crowd and then, only then, did so many people believe.
In Acts 3 Peter and John heal a man unable to walk and he goes leaping and dancing through the temple courts. And the people come and stare at Peter and John, trying to work out what just happened. Again, it is only after Peter speaks to the crowd that the people believe.
The miracles are truly amazing and they draw the eye and attract the crowd. But that’s all they do, at least in terms of spreading the good news. It is only when the Apostles, empowered by the Spirit, go out and explain the Gospel that things happen and people believe.
We don’t see many crowd-pleasing miracles these days, but we do put on some pretty good community events: a Ceilidh and a Wedding Party only last week. What we need now is the boldness to speak out and tell the story. We may feel inadequate for that task – I certainly do. Surely there is someone better equipped to do it? Peter must have felt the same way. But those tongues of fire weren’t just a miracle to impress the crowd. When God’s Spirit came on him, Peter was empowered to speak with boldness and conviction beyond anything he had been capable of before.
This Pentecost we need more than ever to ask God for that same Spirit to come on us and empower us as effective tellers of good news. With our first 10 days of mission completed, where will we go next? Onwards … !