In our daily meditations, staff at Glasgow City Mission have been thinking about the feast of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The disciples were all together celebrating the fiftieth day after Passover. Out of the blue, a sound like a mighty rushing wind came and filled the entire house. Then what looked like tongues of fire came and rested on each one of them. Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit, and He was arriving in a very dramatic way!
The noise of the wind in the house was so loud it brought the neighbours out to see what was happening. The people came from many different countries. As they listened to the disciples they realised that these ordinary men from Galilee, who would normally speak Aramaic, were speaking to them in their own languages. Today, it would be as if the disciples were suddenly able to speak Hebrew, Pharsee, Turkish, Arabic and Italian! This certainly got the crowd’s attention. Peter took the opportunity to explain and to tell them about Jesus. Three thousand people became believers that day.
At Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were given what they needed to start the work of making disciples from all nations. Their small, tightknit community had to open up, and welcome people from very different backgrounds.
They would need other gifts to help them continue this work – ranging from the extraordinary, such as healing and prophecy, to the decidedly ordinary like administration (1 Cor 12-14; Romans 12:4-8; Ephesians 4:4-13). Above all, they would have to learn to live, worship and work together. For that they needed to allow the Holy Spirit to work in them, to help them to let go of their pet theories and prejudices and to transform them into the humble, patient, loving and joyful people they needed to be (Galatians 5:22-23).
In his commentary on this story in Acts, theologian Willie Jennings asks, “Where is the Holy Spirit taking us and into whose lives?” In an age of globalisation, mass immigration and racial tensions this is an important question for all Christians.
At Glasgow City Mission it is our privilege to welcome people from all over the world – and as we do so we are seeing the Holy Spirit at work. Staff and volunteers use their various gifts to offer hospitality, childcare, help with asylum claims, English language lessons and much more. As they do this they demonstrate Jesus’ love for all people, regardless of race and culture.
At our weekly Gathering, pictured above but currently online, people from all nationalities come together to hear about and worship Jesus. Some of our international guests have had to leave their home countries precisely because they are believers. Others have become Christians since arriving in the UK and for them encouragement and spiritual food is vital.
In our weekly Bible studies, which are held over Zoom just now, we are discovering amazing unity amongst believers from many different countries as we study and pray with one another. Together, we are being taken into each others’ lives in ways we could never have imagined. As we welcome one another and learn from each other, the Holy Spirit is transforming us all.