Three generations of my family met on Zoom a few days ago to celebrate my birthday. They sang, they puffed at their screens to help me blow out candles and, together, we made the best of a lack of physical companionship.
Life is fragile at the best of times; in recent weeks its fragility has been only too evident. So birthdays are worth celebrating!
Today is Pentecost, the birthday of the church. The church is a body of people – of all ages through all generations over centuries – who believe in Jesus as the Saviour. Jesus had fulfilled his role on earth and was back in heaven. End of story? No, just the beginning. The physical presence of Jesus had gone. His followers no longer had him with them – as I didn’t have my family with me physically on my birthday – but rather than being a time of sadness, there was anticipation of what was to come. Pentecost saw the arrival of the Holy Spirit. This was no ghostly apparition, but the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise that, after his return to heaven, his believers – a motley group of human beings – would carry on as his representatives. Endowed and empowered with his Spirit, they would fan out across the world to share good news. Unlike our limited life-on-earth-span, the church will always have a birthday to celebrate as its membership of believers continues to grow. Nothing can stop God! Not the present closure of church buildings, nor disease, death, personal or global catastrophes.
Whatever the circumstances, let’s continue to celebrate our own birthdays as the church of God continues to celebrate its birthday.