The Archdeacon of Cleveland, Sam Rushton, writes:

First Fruits

Pentecost or the Festival of Weeks was one of the three main festivals in the Jewish calendar at which people were called to gather and to give thanks to God.

In Deuteronomy 16 it says: ‘Three times a year you shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the festival of unleavened bread (Passover), at the festival of weeks (Pentecost), and at the festival of booths (harvest). ‘

They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.’ This is and was a time of thanksgiving, a time of offering. Everyone brought the first and the best of what they had and offered it to God, to await his blessing.

That first Pentecost after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus must have been a peculiar one for his disciples.

Devout Jews, they are required to bring what they have and offer it in thanksgiving but they must have done so with heavy, confused hearts.

And the response from God blows their minds.

They offer what they have, which is not much, as they left everything they had to follow Jesus.

And yet still they give and God responds with the wind of the Spirit and tongues of flame.

As we approach the time when parishes begin to consider their Free Will Offer for 2020, and when many parishes are considering their annual giving appeal to the congregation, perhaps we need to remind ourselves that when we offer what we have in thanksgiving and with joy, God responds in ways which will astound us.

Are we ready for what God will do with our offering this Pentecost?

Sam Rushton