“It’s not a Church of England thing, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s a Christian thing.”
In the 10 days leading up to Pentecost Sunday on 4th June the Archbishop of Canterbury is encouraging Christians of all denominations to take part in a global prayer movement 'Thy Kingdom Come'. People are encouraged to pray in whatever way they choose, wherever they are, as individuals, as a family or as a church.
Pentecost Sunday commemorates the day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost just 40 days after Jesus' resurrection when, having seen him ascend to heaven, the disciples were gathered together in a room and the Holy Spirit descended on them, like flames (Acts 2); miraculously, they found themselves able to speak in any language which made them understandable to the multi-ethnic crowd of visitors in Jerusalem at the time. This was when they first began to preach the gospel, the good news of the risen Lord Jesus - and Pentecost Sunday today is thought of as the birth-day of the Church. It was the start of the Church's mission to "go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (as Jesus instructed them in Mark 16:15). "He who believes and is baptised will be saved", Jesus said.
Under the banner of 'Thy Kingdom Come' we are encouraged to pray for the evangelisation of the world, for all people to know Jesus. “Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we, those who follow him, might ‘be one that the world might believe’. We are invited to make a lasting difference in our nations and in our world, by responding to his call to find a deep unity of purpose in prayer," Archbishop Justin Welby has said.
To know Jesus, to experience him as King and as Lord now, transforms our life, has the potential to transform the world and gives us an amazing hope for the future. To be part of his Kingdom is something we can begin to experience now, but it will not be fully known until he returns to this world to set up God's Kingdom on the earth. This is the consistent message of the Bible: God will one day dwell with man here on the earth. And Jesus will bring this Kingdom when he reappears, at his second coming.
At that firstPentecost, the disciples had just seen Jesus ascend into heaven, and they had heard angels say this to them: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Jesus will one day return in person and we will see him and know him, just as the disciples did! Their longing for that day is still there right at the end of the New Testament, when Jesus says to the apostle John "Surely, I am coming soon", and John replies "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
Amen. May thy Kingdom come soon, in its fullest sense!