Something personal from Pentecost: Dreams for Barking Riverside and encouragement for today
We want to share something a little different this week. On Sunday we celebrate Pentecost – an incredible day you can read about in the Bible in Acts chapter 2. A day credited as the birth of the church. A day that speaks quite powerfully into our current situation today generally, and a day that is personally significant for our church planting journey at Barking Riverside.
Jesus’ disciples, about 120 of them, were gathered in a room. They had seen Jesus, their leader, teacher, friend, and Lord, brutally murdered on a cross, buried, then appear to them risen and alive for 40 days. He had taught them and encouraged them, then commissioned them to go out to the whole world and bring people back to God telling them about all that Jesus was and is. Then they’d seen him literally rise up to heaven before their eyes after promising to send the Holy Spirit to help and lead them.
So they waited. They waited together in a room, hiding from the world, trusting God yet likely confused and concerned. Not knowing what would happen, how God would come through, what was really expected of them, or how the world would react. They wait. They wait together. And they wait praying. Then Pentecost happens. God comes.
The Holy Spirit fills them so dramatically and powerfully with the presence, love and power of God that they burst out into the streets with new found joy and boldness praising God and sharing with anyone and everyone about Jesus. The church is born.
Generally, this is powerful for us today. Even with lockdown lifting, we find ourselves waiting in the midst of what has been a very dangerous world, trusting that God will come through, but honestly not knowing how. Pentecost reminds us, invites and calls us, to wait like the early church for a God who never changes. Let’s wait TOGETHER – seeking to connect and care for one another all the more as things begin to change. Let’s wait PRAYING – turning our attention to God, remembering His promisies, and actually taking time to talk to Him together and on our own. Let’s wait honestly with hope – honest about our fears, doubts and confusions, but with hope because we trust in Him.
Finally, I want to share one more thing with you, something personal. It was on this day – Pentecost Sunday – back in 2018 that we first shared publicly our sense of vision for what we believe God is wanting to do at Barking Riverside. It was my voice, but shaped by Anna and myself together after a few months of prayer and dreaming, as we prepared to leave jobs, home, and community we knew for something and somewhere we really didn’t. I listened to this talk just a week or so ago at a moment of needing to remember the promises and call that God had given that led us to this place. The vision, the heart and passion, the dream that we share here is as true today as it ever has been. To be honest, the journey has been far slower than we thought, not straightforward and not without challenge. But one step at a time we keep walking forward, waiting together in prayer and hope, knowing that God is moving and we’ll see what His dreams become reality. They always do.
So if you want to know our heart more then have a listen. We’d love to hear your thoughts, your dreams and reactions. And I’d commend to you: find people you can wait with, together, in prayer. As we begin to walk out of lockdown into an unknown new normal, let’s fix our hope together on the God who never changes and is so much better than normal.