19th May 2024 10.30am – Pentecost – Eucharist

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The Readings

Acts 2.1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”


John 15.26-27

‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16.4b-15

‘I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By The Revd Alison Wragg.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all
our hearts be acceptable unto you O, Lord our rock and
our redeemer. Amen.

Today we are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost, the
coming of the promised Holy Spirit. Our reading from Acts
this morning describes Pentecost in the most expansive
way... all the stops on the organ are out, so to speak. We
hear of a heavenly sound like the rushing wind,
descending fire and patterns of transformed speech.

Pentecost is a pregnant moment in the life of the people
of God and in the relationship between those people and
God. It is the moment when gestation ceases and birthing
begins. It is both an end and a beginning, the leaving
behind of that which is past and the launching forth into
something new. Pentecost is the birth of the church and
is often referred to as the churches birthday.

I remember as a little girl growing up in Crookes, that it
was also known as Whitsuntide or Whit Sunday. I
remember always wearing my best summer dress and
new ankle socks and sandals for the occasion. I remember
the sandals vividly.

They had a leather top and crape soles. We would parade
from church, which for me at that time was St Thomas’ to
Weston Park for the celebrations there. I guess some of
you here this morning can remember this too.

The lectionary readings over the last seven weeks have
been preparing us for this moment. Twice, in connection
with Jesus’ ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit has
been promised... in Acts chapter 1, v8 it says, “you will
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
That promise is now realised in a manner far surpassing
the expectation of even the most faithful disciples.

The coming of the Holy Spirit brings new life for the
church. New life for individuals within the church. New
life through the Spirit of God. No one present is excluded
from this display of God’s grace. Unlike other important
moments in the history of God’s mighty acts of salvation,
the transfiguration being an example, only the inner few
are witnesses to the work of God’s Spirit. But at Pentecost
everyone is included. It is a moment of inclusiveness.

Notice that with the coming of the Spirit the diverse
individual languages of those present are not abolished in
favour of a single common language.

Those gathered continue to speak different languages but
can now be understood by one another. As one of the
pivotal events in the formation of the early Christian
church, this remains important for the church today. The
church should be a place where we rejoice in our
diversity, as we are brought together in community.

In the Acts reading the barriers between different
geographical identities are broken down. As a ‘Pentecost
people’ we are united with our neighbours whether they
are close by here in Walkley or are across the world.
Over the last seven days we have been supporting
Christian Aid week 2024. The theme has been ‘pushing
back against poverty.’ The focus has been on a lady called
Aline and the people of Burundi, the smallest country in
Africa. In Burundi more than 70% of the population live in

In the areas where Christian Aid work people without
their own small business or income will typically head out
on an empty stomach each morning. They must look for
casual work to buy food for that evening. Most only eat
once a day and how much they eat depends on the work
they find that day. Making plans for the future is
impossible when you can’t make plans beyond the day.

This was the situation Aline found herself in when an
early marriage ended in abuse and violence. Separated
from her children, she was forced to sleep on the streets
of Burundi. Hungry, scorned and alone, Aline was pushed
to the brink of survival, but her life was about to change.

Aline’s love for her children drove her to transform her
life. Her first step back from the brink came when she
participated in a three-day community workshop with
Christian Aid funded trainers. Aline learnt how to
establish a steady income and make long term plans. She
says, “I came out with amazing knowledge and skills. The
trainer restored a sense of hope and energy in me.”

With a small start-up loan, Aline started trading avocados
and peanuts locally. With her profits, she bought a bicycle
so she could transport greater quantities of goods to
markets further afield. Eventually, her hard work had
earned the money she needed to rent a house and be
reunited with her three eldest sons.

Aline's faith has guided and comforted her through the
darkest of times. She says, “We pray together as we are
still alive thanks to God's grace.

God comforts you through troubled times and gives you
hope for a better future. With God's help you can
overcome obstacles and be victorious.”

The small grocery business that Aline built not only pays
for a home for her and her children, but food, clothes and
essential healthcare too. Aline's also purchased solar
panels so her children can do their evening homework by
electric light, and further their education. Aline's home is
a sanctuary for her and her children. A place where they
can nurture their ambitions and make plans for the
future. A home filled with prayer and praise.

Burundi continues to be one of the toughest places on
earth to live. The future is uncertain, and challenges wait
for families like Aline's around every corner. As the
climate crisis deepens, people in Burundi find themselves
in an increasingly precarious position in the face of the
droughts, floods and landslides that are becoming more

Burundi's fragile economy is built on agriculture, and
many homes are built of unbaked mud bricks. Extreme

weather undermines the stability of both, often with
devastating consequences.

When a ferocious storm destroyed Aline's home, almost
killing her and her children, she was able to recover by
selling the cows she'd been keeping. Now when a crisis
threatens her family's survival, Aline has options. Even a
small business can provide just enough resources to
weather a brutal storm in Burundi.

Today, Aline's using her experience to help 25 other
families in her community to build their resilience. And
she's baking her own bricks to build a strong home for her
and her children in every sense. Aline’s story really is a
story of hope, of God’s Holy Spirit at work throughout the

The Holy Spirit is sometimes referred to as the Counselor,
or Comforter or Helper. In our reading this morning from
John’s gospel the Holy Spirit is identified as the Advocate.
The Advocate being the one who comes in place of Jesus
and who enables testimony on Jesus’ behalf.
Of course it is not just Burundi where people continue to
live in poverty. Poverty is present in many places in the
world including on our doorsteps here in Sheffield.

We as disciples of Christ who shine the light of Christ into
the world are called to be advocates for people who live
in poverty... for those people who live on the margins of
society in our city. We are called to shout out for those
who are powerless to speak for themselves. We must
shout out for the day when everyone has all they need...
then we can say truly the kingdom of God has come.

Aline said that the three-day training she had in the
community workshop by the Christian Aid funded trainers
had restored a sense of hope and energy in her. This is
what happens at Pentecost. It’s no inner mystical
experience but it is an outpouring of God’s energy that
ripples across the world and touches and reaches out to
every life.

Imagine throwing a stone into a calm, still pond. There is
a splash of energy and then watch the ripples gently
move across the water until they flow to the edge and out
into the world.

I wish you all a Pentecost filled with God’s Spirit and



The Prayers

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.

Generous God,
we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.
We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.
We pray that the peoples of the earth may care for natural world around us.
We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.
We pray for those living in war zones, including Ukraine and the Middle East.
We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness
where there is division, sickness and sorrow.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,
given us by the risen Lord.
We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,
in the joy of eternal life.
Lord, come to bless us
and fill us with your Spirit.

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here is copyright (c) 2010 The Archbishops' Council