“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
In 2010, this year just as at the time of the first Pentecost, Christians throughout the world, in their respective churches, will celebrate Pentecost in hundreds of different languages and will sing hymns in their own languages giving praise to the Lord.
Jesus’ disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit that first Pentecost because they were waiting for it in trust. They were gathered together waiting, confident in God’s promise.
On the morning of Pentecost, Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the festival of new bread; amongst the faithful was the small group of humble friends of Jesus Christ the Risen One. And the promise is fulfilled: the Spirit comes down on them and makes them into witnesses, messengers, people convinced by their master’s message of love and truth. It becomes a time for the call to conversion, of putting into practice the gift received and commitment to the service of brothers and sisters.
Today, the call to conversion is more central than ever for every person who seeks to follow Jesus Christ and to discover meaning in life through serving those who suffer, whatever name their suffering may have.
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’” (Acts 2:37b)
Many are waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is in today’s world a small group of the humble who seek conversion, asking for forgiveness for faults committed in the past, such as attacks on God’s gift of life through the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction.
Hope for conversion can be seen today in the steps some of the “great” of this world have taken to repair past excesses of pride and domination. Yes, everything is possible for the one who turns to Christ and, in the power of the Spirit, tries to change the plans of those who continue to believe that peace can be bought only under threat of nuclear weapons.
May the brave souls of this world, who have begun to reduce their stocks of nuclear arms, now continue boldly to make more resources available for the well-being of those populations who have been so devastated and give more resources to those peoples who live in the anguish of hunger and the violence of war, and who thirst to be able to share their knowledge.
We want to say “with God, all things are possible!”
But, of course we Christians, who have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, must not limit our insistence on the need for repentance from the official leaders of the nations or of other public persons. The call for repentance remains well-timed for every one of us, from every state, age, origin: repentance for our inconsistency between what we proclaim and how we behave; repentance for our little faith, for our compromises to the spirit of this world, for our inclination to be indifferent to justice, to solidarity, to sincere love and respect for every human person. It is with this deep spirit of repentance that we must await the coming and dwelling of the Spirit of God, in ourselves and in our local congregations. Only then shall we rediscover the face of our Resurrected Lord, the Kyrios, and be united with him, praying with humility and new dynamism: O, come, Holy Spirit! Transform the world!
May the Holy Spirit which came down at Pentecost fill you with light, hope and joy and give you the strength to glorify our Lord by serving his world with love. We wish you all a very blessed feast of Pentecost.
The Presidents of the World Council of Churches
- Archbishop Dr Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania
- Mr John Taroanui Doom, Maohi Protestant Church (French Polynesia)
- Rev. Dr Simon Dossou, Methodist Church in Benin
- Rev. Dr Soritua Nababan, Protestant Christian Batak Church (Indonesia)
- Rev. Dr Ofelia Ortega, Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba
- Patriarch Abune Paulos, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
- Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson, United Church of Christ (USA)
- Dr Mary Tanner, Church of England