With the sound of rushing wind, tongues of fire that separated came and rested on each of them. Astonished, the people asked, “Are not these Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church, Sunday, May 23rd, 2021.

Today is Pentecost Sunday. It is often celebrated as the birthday of the Church, the beginning of church as the body of Christ on earth. It is the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out by God into the community of followers of Jesus who were waiting for this day as promised by Risen Jesus. This is what Jesus said in John: “When the Advocate, which is another name for the Holy Spirit, 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.

They knew this day was the day of promise to fulfill what the Risen Jesus has commissioned them to be – community of Jesus, bearing witness to what God has done in Christ Jesus, to reconcile all things and create anew the broken and hurting world. This community waited for the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised that they will be baptized by the Holy Spirit, who would empower them to be witnesses of Risen Jesus and of what God had done in and through him, just as the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ.

Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:4-5; John 15:26-27

To celebrate this, I want to read you the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost on the community of Jesus called to be witnesses of Risen Jesus. Before I do this, let us sing together:

Song: She Sits Like A Bird [Enemy Of Apathy]

As you listen to the reading, can I ask you to imagine the scene? As you picture it in your mind, try and also listen. What I mean is, try and imagine the sounds and noises too.

A short prayer – Holy Spirit, Enemy of apathy, open the scriptures to us, to hear God’s voice, open our hearts to receive them, that we may be Christ’s friend, witnessing to God’s love for all.

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’

Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’ Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

‘“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,

before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

What images and sound stood out to you as you were listening to the scripture reading? I wonder whether you noticed the different peoples from different parts of the world with different skin tones and features and even clothing. I wonder whether you noticed the sound of different languages with different tones, inflections, and rhythm. So I thought it would be fantastic if we could kind of replicate that if we can.

Can I invite Virund (Sanjana, Zion, Sylvia), Justina (Frederick, Victor, Miracle), Kim, Melody, Darrel Yong Sik,

Have I missed anyone?

Ah, I have, haven’t I! Myra (&Tom) Scottish accent, Jean (Zimbabwean). And, of course, we got to have a representative of a true Southlander. And got to have a Canterburian represented. That would be me. A Korean born, Auckland raised, immigrated to Christchurch, married to an Aussie raised Korean. I’m kidding! Or am I? Any thoroughbred Canterburian through and through whose ancestors came on the boat many generations ago of Ngai Tahu heritage? How about one of the more recent arrivals from the four ships that disembarked at Lyttleton harbor – Randolph, Cressy, Sir George Seymour, and Charlotte Jane? And now, can I have those who has a good Te Reo pronunciation. And one of you who are trying hard like me but actually end up butchering it. And, of course, is there anyone here who can sign language it can be New Zealand sign language or Japanese?

Now, I do wonder what the actual message that the followers spoke. We are not told. But if you would allow me to have an educated guess, and for the sake of time, I wonder what they heard was God’s big and deep haere mai in Christ Jesus in each mother tongue. I mean, think about it. What is it like to hear your mother tongue when you least expect it, especially in a land of Roman Occupation and Hellenized globalization, where there is apathy towards your difference, pressure to conform, to become who you are not? I bet it sounds like a big welcome that you belong here, that this is your home.

So take a moment to think about how you say welcome in your mother tongue.

Now when I count, 3,2,1, all of you say welcome in your own language at the same time together. Are you ready? One more time.

To some it may sound like a noise, to others it is music to their ears. What would it take for humanity to hear this great diversity of human choir as melodious praise to God? – Nothing short of Jesus crucified and risen and the church, Jesus’ body on earth, marked with his suffering love and whose pulse beats at the rhythm of big and deep divine haere mai.

I invite you now to a time of prayerful reflection.

Prayerful Reflection:

Reflection song: Beautiful Things by Gungor

                                                                                               Pentecost by Titian

With the sound of rushing wind, tongues of fire that separated came and rested on each of them. Astonished, the people asked, “Are not these Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?

Song: ‘Loving Spirit’

Welcome and Notices:


Song: Aaronic Blessing

Praying the Psalm:

Today we are going pray together a section from Psalm 104. Here the poet rejoices over the great diversity and plentifulness of God’s creation. Poetically, the psalm portrays God delighting over creation intimately with our pet animal, that delightful relationship of love and care, how your pet is in despair seeing you leave and how delighted it is when you turn your face towards it. But this relationship is more than that. Spirit of God gives life, the Spirit of God is the breath of creation. Spirit of God, the breath of life, is what energises and animates creation. Because of this, creation reflects the energy and beauty of God.

So church, let us praise and give thanks of the Spirit of God, in whom and by whom we have our being!

Please respond with the words in bold.

Psalm 104:24-34

What a wildly wonderful world, God!            You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow         with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look —                  the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,     Kahawai and hector’s dolphin and blue cod.
All the creatures look expectantly to you     to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;     they are satisfied with good things.
When you hide your face,     they are terrified;
Take back your Spirit and they die,     revert to original mud;
When you send your Spirit,    they are created,     and you renew the face of the ground.

The glory of God — let it last forever!     Let God enjoy his creation!

Prayer for Others

Song: Lord’s Prayer

[The offering will be brought up during the chorus “Amen”]

Offering Prayer

Song: ‘Wonderful Grace’

Scripture Readings:  John 14:15-17 and John 15:26-27

John 14:15-17  

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 15:26-27

Jesus said: “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. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

Sermon Reflection by Stewart Gavin

Previous talks have been on 1. God’s Kingdom and 2. Volume 1 Gods will

Jesus said to Herod:  My kingdom is not of this world (violent, imposed, populist, self-serving) and we should not be surprised if his will is different to our will.

God says in Isaiah:  My ways are not your ways or my thoughts your thoughts, so our thoughts and ways are not necessarily a good guide.

But if our thoughts and ways match up to Micah (seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly before God), etc they are helpful.  They should be our default setting.

Or, as in the Lords Prayer, Hallow his name, help his Kingdom come, do his will)

My contention is we need to practice God’s will, and that it is part instinctive desire and part learnt.

It would be strange indeed if everything we experience outside of Christianity had no relevance or connection to being a Christian.

e.g. Learning to walk, learning to catch, little people and supervising an exam.

When we learn it, we say “Its easy.”  But it isn’t easy.  It’s very complex.  It has become “normal” for us, ingrained, through many mistakes.  We learn to enjoy it, feel more confident, resilient.  Shearing, juggling, juggling on a unicycle, juggling on a unicycle with knives are just some of the things we can learn to do.

We need to practice, mistakes will be made, they are not important if within the guidelines.

What guidelines?  Not stupid.  We don’t teach our children to learn to walk on the edge of cliffs.  Or to catch by throwing them a small but priceless Ming Dynasty Vase.  Not selfish.  Not violent.  “Wise as serpents, harmless as doves”, not misusing power, not giving ourselves without thought to patriotic fervour.

  • Sometimes, being a good Christian meant being a bad Roman. So before you accuse people of being unpatriotic, ask yourself which empire they’re actually serving.
  • Stephen Mattson

David Koresh, 1993, Waco Texas.    “David Koresh had too much power………and we gave it to him”

Why would God set us impossible standards?  At the start he expects baby steps.  Paul talks of milk then mature food.  e.g. boys practicing basketball shots – want the 3 pointers, BUT – if you can’t shoot a single what chance do you have of a three pointer?  Start simple!  It is NOT enough to just be passive.

As we get older, we fear mistakes, fear embarrassment, forget we learn from practice, get impatient with our slowness in learning new tasks, fear change, yet the Gospel is about change, repent, renew, restore, transform, born again, (start again) redeem, return, grow, seek, remake, refill.

What I planned:


The virtue of practice is everywhere, especially easily seen in sport.  Also in education e.g. times tables.

Military.  Business.

Americas Cup – practice practice practice.  Any serious sportsperson.  Race 8, NZ off their foils, 4 minutes behind, won by 4 minutes.

“It’s a funny thing.  The more I practice the luckier I get.” Arnold Palmer

Not luckier, more practiced.  Better!

Reflection Song: Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Song: Spirit of the Living God

Passing of the Peace of Christ: “In Christ, You are included!”

Song of Sending: ‘Now as We Go’


The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us all now and for evermore. Amen.