Joy and Apprehension

A reflection for the Feast of Pentecost

The Feast of Pentecost has always had a particular significance for me, as it was the day on which I was baptised and confirmed at the age of seventeen. Apart from the embarrassment of spilling the wine when it came to the Lord’s Supper, what I most vividly remember is the feeling of both joy and apprehension at making this public commitment to the Christian faith.

pentecost-people-1024x612Joy and apprehension, I suspect, is what the disciples may also have felt on that first Pentecost – literally the fiftieth day ­– when they became filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in different languages. Both the disciples themselves and those living in Jerusalem were caught by surprise, because although Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come, at the time his followers did not know what this meant or what it would look like. It is also a moment of commitment, both demonstrating God’s loyalty to His people as well as the charge given to his followers to proclaim His message to all people, in all languages.

As the Holy Spirit is poured out over the disciples, we see both the final fulfilment of the Easter promise, as well as the beginning of what it means to live as Christian disciples; the founding of the Christian Church. In a sense, the Feast of Pentecost reminds us that whatever we have been given or whatever we have achieved is never only an endpoint, but always a new beginning.

Whether it is a baptism, a confirmation, a wedding or graduation ceremony, what we celebrate is not only what has brought us to this point, but we also prepare ourselves – and indeed celebrate ­­­– that which lies ahead of us. God’s generosity means that what we have is freely given, but what is asked of us is a commitment to use it well.

Joy and apprehension: making a commitment is scary, especially when we are not quite sure where our promise will lead us. However, it is also something to celebrate, as these moments are also a reminder of God’s generosity and faithfulness to us and they make us who we are. So, I wonder, which commitments, which times when you have said ‘yes’ with apprehension and joy, have shaped your life? Pentecost is the time to remind ourselves, to celebrate, and to give thanks.


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