Thoughts for Tuesday 2nd June 2020

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; Ezekiel 39:7-8, 21-29; Romans 8:26-27

 Tuesday 2 June - Rev. Jerry Eve

 

Pentecost always strikes me with its less than peaceful imagery – wind and fire – and here in our psalm at verse 32 we have, quite appropriately I think, a reference to an earthquake and a volcano. Pentecost is a time for us to be shaken and stirred; and changed in some way.

 Whereas yesterday our Old Testament reading was from Joel, one of the Minor prophets, today its from one of the Major prophets, Ezekiel. The division into major and minor is purely on length, so that there are four majors – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel (Lamentations is a sequel to Jeremiah), and twelve minors – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. In those Hebrew Scriptures read in the synagogue, the ‘Book of the Twelve’ is a single book, and Daniel is grouped separately with what are known as the ‘writings’ (along with Psalms, Proverbs etc.) rather than the ‘prophets’.

 Ezekiel himself was a priest in Solomon’s Temple who was then taken into exile at the time of the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s take on what has happened is that their misfortune, as a people, has been due to their having turned from God, but that God is now going to give them a second chance – and a second Temple. It’s a hopeful message, and that’s what we need now, I would suggest.

 The emphasis on the Holy Spirit at this time of the year is one I find quite difficult. I remember reading one of Graham Greene’s later books, Monsignor Quixote (1982), in which a Christian tries to explain the Trinity to a Communist. He has three wine bottles, but afterwards is full of remorse that he has used a half-bottle rather than a full bottle to represent the Holy Spirit. The point, I think, Greene is making is that the Holy Spirit is the least explicable of the three persons.

 As a young Christian I read Pastor David Wilkerson’s, The Cross and the Switchblade (1963), about his missionary activity with young people in Brooklyn. As a member of the Pentecostal Church he placed great emphasis in that book on these young people receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as a powerful religious experience in their lives that would then set them on the straight and narrow.

 While I don’t doubt that this is an important part of some people’s journey of faith – and I did for a long time pray that it might be mine – over the years I have come to think of an interpretation of the Holy Spirit as more of a honing of one’s conscience by prayer as equally valid.

 Let us pray:

 God, put in all of us a heart that is easily wooed to Your presence. Help us to pray through all our trials to completion...to listen closely to Your Spirit in our secret time of communion with You...and to put all our confidence in Your revealed Word. In these ways, we can know our prayers are pleasing to You. Amen!

 

(David Wilkerson, 1931 – 2011)


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