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Sermon – Pentecost and Adult Baptism

Pentecost & Adult Baptism

Sermon Preached by Reverend Stuart Langshaw on Sunday, 19 May 2024.

On today’s birthday cake we need nearly 2,000 red candles. Who will blow out all of those!!! Today is the Feast of Pentecost – the birthday of the Church – the 2000th birthday. It was on this festival in Judaism – the religion of the Jews – that the Holy Spirit came down upon the followers of Jesus and filled them with enormous power. Peter preached the sermon of his life, and as a result, 3000 people were added to the church. We read about this in Acts chapter 2.

Pentecost – funny word. In Greek – the language that the New Testament was written in – the word for “Five” is “Pente.” Think about the Pentagon in America, that unique 5-sided building that is the headquarters of the Department of Defence located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington. The Greek word for the number 50 Is Pentekosta. 50 days after Passover the Jews celebrate the festival of Shavuot, and that festival has a double-barrelled remembrance. First of all it is a thanksgiving celebration for the spring wheat harvest. But later, this same festival was associated with remembrance of the Law that God gave to Moses on Mt Sinai. On Shavuot (in Hebrew) or Pentecost (in Greek) the Jews do no work. In Bible times male Jews were required to go to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple and Jewish homes were decorated with flowers and with foliage. The book of Ruth from the Old Testament is read (we have a Ruth window here at St Andrews). Traditionally Jews eat dairy food at this celebration – cheesecake.

There’s confusion because it’s a three-name festival. The Jewish name for the festival is Shavuot. That’s a Hebrew word, and its English translation is “weeks.” So the name of the festival has been translated into English as The Feast of Weeks – seven weeks since Passover. We are more familiar with the Greek name – Pentecost – 50 days since Passover. We do get a bit bamboozled by its three names – in Hebrew – Shavuot, in English – Feast of Weeks and in Greek – Pentecost. So … the reason that so many people were in Jerusalem on this particular feast of Pentecost is that they were required to be there.

Here it was in Jerusalem, and here it was at Pentecost, that The Holy Spirit of God came down upon the disciples and empowered them to speak in other languages – or to be heard in other languages. Here it was that Peter preached as never before. Here it was that 3,000 men from that vast crowd of men were affected by Peter’s sermon and the other disciples’ preaching and joined the Christian believers. Here it was that the Christian church was born.

The church colour for the Holy Spirit is red, and that’s why I’m wearing red robes, and we have all made an effort to come wearing red of some sort.

It was a dramatic day back then when such unexpected things happened, when such preaching was heard, when such conviction came upon people, when such a crowd attached themselves to the disciples of Jesus and this new way of being God’s people. It was a dramatic time … when Jesus’ followers were able to heal people, when Jesus’ followers bore testimony with confidence and with complete conviction to the grace and power of God within them through the Holy Spirit, when lives were transformed, and when Jesus’ followers’ numbers were swelled by so many who joined them.

And down through the years of Christian history, God’s people have marked today as the anniversary of the start of their new life … their birth day. Of course, the Holy Spirit was present before Pentecost. Now is not the time to recount all the Old Testament references to the Holy Spirit. But our Annunciation window here at St Andrew’s has a portrayal of the Holy Spirit coming upon young Mary, preparing her for her role as the mother of Jesus.

And down through the years of Christian history, some of God’s people have had dramatic personal experiences of the Holy Spirit. They have received the gift of glossolalia – speaking in tongues – or they may have had dramatic deliverances from disease or disaster. We acknowledge and accept all of those dramatic gifts as authentic evidences of the life and work of the Holy Spirit among us. These gifts of the Spirit are pretty spectacular. Although, as an aside, St Paul mentioned to the Corinthians that administration is a gift of the Spirit – administration is hardly spectacular!!! We should pray that we will be ready to receive whatever gifts of the Spirit God will be pleased to give us.,

And down through the years of Christian history, zillions of God’s people have shown in their lives the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the quiet, gentle evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. These are different from the gifts of the Spirit. When St Paul wrote to the Galatians, in chapter 5, he listed 9 of the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. I think he should have added thankfulness, but who am I to tell St Paul what to do?

These fruit are not as spectacular as many of the gifts of the Spirit – and we acknowledge and accept all of those quiet, gentle fruit as authentic evidences of the life and work of the Holy Spirit among us. If you look at a Christian of some years standing, you will see some, many or all of the fruit of the Spirit in them – both in their deeds and in their speech. We should pray that we may co-operate with the Holy Spirit and develop these fruit in our lives.


Pentecost AD 31 – the start of the Christian Church as a whole. Pentecost AD 2024 – the start of a new life in the Christian Church here at Walkerville. At Pentecost there were 3,000 people who became members of Christ, and became children of God, and were made inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. And here at St Andrew’s we have many people who became those things at their baptism. Our church catechism reminds us that in our baptism, we become a member of Christ, the child of God, and an in heritor of the kingdom of heaven.

In a moment we shall baptise an adult – who has decided that this is a step that he chooses to take. In a very public way, XXXXX will be admitted to membership of the world-wide, multi-cultural, all-denominational, multi-lingual Church of God, as zillions have before him – through the waters of baptism. The feast of Pentecost seems to be such an appropriate festival for this to occur. In XXXXX’s life we can already see the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and those of us in the congregation who have drunk tea with XXXXX at Morning Tea, and had conversations with him, will affirm the step we shall take in baptising him, and, as it were, opening wide the door of congregational welcome.

I can let you know that XXXXX has undergone a couple of months of gentle preparation and is fully aware of the implications of this morning’s service. As a congregation we shall receive him and welcome him in words that we shall say together. He will also be receiving the Holy Communion for the first time this morning with us all, fellow members of the body of Christ.

But XXXXX’s baptism is also an affirmation of our life here at St Andrew’s. We acknowledge in our Parish Prayer that we are members of Christ and of his church … and we are welcoming XXXXX into that status with the rest of us. In that prayer we pray that we may reach out in welcome to newcomers … and we have done that to XXXXX and to YYYYY his mother. We also pray in the Parish Prayer that we may care for each other in friendship and fellowship – and we are doing that, too, in this service and at Morning Tea afterwards.

Today is just a terrific day for the whole church and is a terrific day for our little bit of it here at St Andrews. It is a day on which we thank God for the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit … we thank God that all his people are members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven … and we thank God for XXXXX whose baptism enriches our worship and our parish life.