Pentecost Sunday 28th May

Waiting on God! 

During our lifetime we spend a great deal of time just ‘waiting’! From standing in queues, waiting for the letter or telephone call we  expected, for the news  we eagerly await or the arrival of that important friend or family member coming to visit.

Psalm 40 begins with these words: I waited patiently for the Lord. Some versions are even more true to the Hebrew with the translation I waited, waited for the Lord.

Sometimes we say “I waited and waited for the rain to stop..but it kept pouring!

The force of that double ‘waiting’ emphasises how long we had to wait and the resulting sense of impatience, even exasperation!  The Psalmist, knew all about the irritation of waiting. Sometimes waiting for God to act, called for great patience, In Psalm 40 i is as if the Psalmist is  warning us that God’s action or salvation, even in a crisis does not come as speedily as we would want it to.

There’s no doubt that the Psalmist was facing a crisis. He referred to being in bit of hole or as he expresses it a desolate pit, a the miry bog…(Ps.40:2 NRSV).

We don’t know what the crisis was. Maybe he was referring to some ghastly accident, or terrible illness. That vivid description would be an experience that most of us have had at some time or another,—when for whatever reason it seemed  as if the ground beneath our feet had just given way.

For the Psalmist, as for us, the waiting would suggest that God’s action / relief does not always happen immediately. What the Psalmist found is that even amidst the uncertainty, eventually there is firm ground —-V2 He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

He waited & waited,  for God to act — crying out in despair. the  only power that could help him was God. At one moment all of life’s foundations had gone and then suddenly, when he least expected it he found himself on firm ground. And so he celebrated God’s goodness, God’s deliverance. Isn’t this where prayer should begin, with what God has done and as an expression of gratitude for all the good things that have happened to us?

It is that experience of ‘deliverance’ that the Psalmist experiences over and over again.  One moment everything’s wonderful. Then suddenly, unexpectedly everything seems to go wrong at once. But the wonder of the ending of this Psalm is that, as the Psalmist expresses it

11 Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.12 For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.11. Out of the dark night that’s just been described the cry of urgent faith arises:

Once again he’s waiting, waiting!


Today is the Sunday we call Pentecost. The day the Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In John’s Gospel this outpouring of God’s Spirit on the disciples occurred on the evening of Easter Day. The followers of Jesus were locked in the house, afraid of what might come next. They were terrified that  those who had turned against Jesus, might now come for them.Full of fear they waited!

Luke, on the other hand, in the Acts of the Apostles, writes that it was 50 days after Easter that the Spirit came upon them. The disciples were all together —waiting!

At the end of his Gospel Luke records the risen Christ telling them that he will send them the Holy Spirit.  In the meantime they are to wait.!    Wait here in this city until you are armed with power from above  (24:49). So they ‘wait’ expectantly, hopeful.

The Coming of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus involved a time of ‘waiting’. The question we might  need to consider is — Do we hide away in fear , like the Disciples in John and just ‘wait’, or do we wait in anticipation, as in Luke’s account in the Acts?

Of course we need to ‘wait’ on God, ‘wait’ for the Spirit to stir us into action. But just ‘waiting’ for something to happen!‘Waiting’ on the Holy Spirit can be just an excuse for in-action for doing nothing

God’s Spirit is present and active in the world. The trouble is we just do not see him or recognise him! We are  asked by God to live in the world, in the world God loves.He invites us to see it as he sees it;  to  love it as he loves it. This is where the Holy Spirit is present and active. It is here that God in Christ comes to us and invites us to live and serve and be open to God’s active and redeeming  presence in the world in all its chaos, in its struggle for justice and peace.That is where the Spirit is present, at work, healing, transforming, renewing. That is where God’s Sprit is present!

The coming of the Holy Spirit  is so big and compelling that it’s found in two versions,- not only in John, but also in the book of Acts, on the day of Pentecost. Both episodes settle on the reality that after the death of Jesus the Spirit comes to comfort, empower, and enliven those who had followed Jesus, even though two accounts differ on the details.

In John, the Spirit is received as a gentle breath from the risen Jesus who emerges through locked doors to enter the room of cowering disciples,,and gently breathes the Spirit into each of them.

Most of us have been there; those times when we want to believe but where our courage and faith  clash with the realities of our scepticism, caution and all-too human limitations.

In Acts, the Spirit arrives as a forceful wind that seems to rush down the streets and alleyways of Jerusalem and beyond.

In John, the disciples are in mourning and dejection. In Acts, the Spirit arrives during Pentecost, amidst festival crowds in the streets. No tongues of fire in John, and no “peace be with you” in Acts.

So what are we waiting for?

What  I’m saying is that ‘waiting’ on Go is not  standing still or just treading water. God has come to us in the Holy Spirit. God is eternally present.We are invited to be open to God’s presence and to share the power of love that’s undefeated, forever present and active in the world.

Where that will take us, God only knows, but wherever,  we won’t be alone. In that space we shall be touched by love, empowered by the Spirit and share the fellowship of God.

Revd Michael Diffey