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Pentecost Message from the WCC Presidents, 2021


Greetings from the World Council of Churches regional presidents to the fellowship of Churches around the world celebrating the birthday of the Church on Pentecost, to be celebrated on Sunday 23 May 2021

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“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2.1-4)

The biblical account in Acts describes Jesus’ disciples as the rush of a mighty wind and tongues of fire excited every fiber of their being. They were emboldened to step forth and proclaim a vision of salvation. It was a vision undimmed by hesitation, fear or apathy. It augured a new heaven and a new earth.

In the intervening centuries, has that Pentecostal vision narrowed? Has it become just an individual spiritual experience? Does the vision seem to occupy a smaller and smaller piece of our mind’s geography and our theological landscape? Has it become the possession only of those privileged by knowledge, place, time?

“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104.1).

This Pentecost, let us look again. In this age of colliding catastrophes, the urgency of the moral and spiritual connection of humanity, creation, and Creator has been starkly unveiled. Yet the vision of Pentecost still shines. It is energizing the Gospel for all creation: We witness it in the healing hands of those who care for all those afflicted and affected by the pandemic. We see it in the fire for social, economic, and climate justice in church communities around the world. We feel it in the urgency of women, young people, and elders for a new earth, as foretold by Joel the prophet.

Indeed, if need is the criterion, now is  the best of times for the rush of a mighty wind of renewal. The pain of a fearful future threatens every particle of creation. We need the hope of the Pentecost vision of life and love.  Yet how are we to become ecclesial communities fired by love of the Lord and united by passion for his people and his creation? Where shall we look for the Pentecostal hope that gives birth to a new heaven and a new earth?

In our time, as in all times, Jesus invites us to follow him to the quivering heart of Pentecost among the poor, the prisoners, the sick, the hungry, and the ill-clothed. We will find there, in our love for each, that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5), fulfilling the promise of Pentecost. So, closely following our Saviour, let us receive, afresh, the promise of the Holy Spirit, renewing us, our times, and the face of the earth. We pray:

Spirit of Light, illumine our minds,
Spirit of Love, inflame our hearts

Spirit of Life, empower our limbs.
Divine Spirit, now and ever, heal and free us
to live with passion and purpose the promise of Pentecost.

Let the churches say, “Amen”!

The presidents of the World Council of Churches:

The Rev’d Prof. Dr Sang Chang, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea

Archbishop Dr Anders Wejryd, Church of Sweden

The Rev’d Gloria Nohemy Ulloa Alvarado, Presbyterian Church in Colombia

Archbishop Mark MacDonald, Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev’d Dr Mele’ana Puloka, Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga

H.B. John X, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East

H.H. Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

First published on the World Council of Churches website on 5 May 2021.

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