Ascension Day and Pentecost—the month of May speaks for itself. And so do our divine services: the brothers and sisters will learn more about the announcement of the Holy Spirit and how God reveals Himself to them as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Promises of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
The Holy Spirit was already active at the time of the old covenant. He filled prophets and kings and inspired and guided them. The prophet Ezekiel already pointed to the fundamental renewal of human beings. On the first Sunday in May, the sermon will explore the promise found in Ezekiel 36: 27 more closely. As a sacramental gift the Holy Spirit is meant to fill human beings permanently, which in practice proves to be a complex process, not an automatic one. The gift of the Spirit can only unfold in our hearts through faith.
Christ’s promise to send the Holy Spirit
Before His ascension, Jesus Christ announced the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes the place of Jesus as the Comforter and will accompany the disciples both as a gift and as a divine person. In the divine service on the Sunday before Ascension Day this promise from John 14: 16–17 is taken up. On the one hand, the Spirit of truth preserves everything that Christ proclaimed. The Spirit does not speak of Himself, but refers to the gospel in His activity. What’s more, the Holy Spirit is active in every sermon that points to the activity and return of Jesus Christ.
Following Jesus Christ
In the Bible reading on Ascension Day we will hear a familiar question: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” (Acts 1: 11). His return is as certain as His resurrection and ascension. But all those who follow Christ must believe in Him without seeing Him. Even though Jesus returned to the Father, He continues to love humankind, and through the Holy Spirit He is with His own at all times and in all places. They are urged to follow Jesus’ example and continue His work. And so Jesus sends Christians out today to love and serve God and their neighbour.
Benefiting from the power of the Holy Spirit
Only those who receive this gift in faith can benefit from the power of the Holy Spirit. This is made clear on the third Sunday in May. Those who commit themselves to Christ and strive to live their whole life in accordance with His teachings can hope for eternal fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit bears witness of Christ, sanctifies believers, and inspires them to proclaim the good news of salvation to others: “‘He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7: 38–39).
Serving in the power of the Holy Spirit
On the last Sunday of the month, New Apostolic Christians across the globe will celebrate Pentecost. On Pentecost the church not only commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but also emphasises its effects for the present. Allowing the Holy Spirit to reign in our hearts means we can step into the future without fear: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (Timothy 1: 7).
This year’s central Pentecost festivities will take place in South Africa. The divine service of the Chief Apostle will be transmitted worldwide.
Photo: sidorovstock - stock.adobe.com