Take time to catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then ask group members to:
Over this term, we’re exploring the theme of moving. Many of us will have changes and moves ahead: this series allows us to look to God’s word for wisdom.
Ask for a volunteer to read Acts 2:1-13 to the group, praying a short prayer that, however much they’ve come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
Download this video to watch offline.
Suggested questions to help your discussion.
Sometimes our most profound moments with God come whilst we’re away from home – on a journey, in a different country or even on a CU weekend away.
Pentecost literally means ‘fiftieth.’ It was another name for the Festival of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22), because it was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. Pentecost was one of three feasts that all adult Jewish men were expected to celebrate in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16-17). This is why there were Jews from all over the world already in Jerusalem as the Spirit is poured out.
Most basically, Pentecost marked the beginning of the wheat harvest: the early crops indicated there was more to follow. But it had wider significance because, according to the book of Exodus, Moses received the Ten Commandments on or around the day of Pentecost. So, in a sense, Pentecost celebrated the birthday of the nation of Israel. This means those celebrating would have commemorated God’s ongoing willingness to provide a harvest. But they would also have remembered God adoption of Israel as his people, and his willingness to grant them the Law as a guide for life.
As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples, he told them not to leave in Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). It turns out God had a very specific date in mind. He times the giving of the Holy Spirit to coincide with Pentecost.
A large international crowd, already in Jerusalem, hear the gospel in their own languages (indicating a reversal of the curse of Genesis 11:7). They are like the beginning of the ‘harvest’ of people that God plans to draw in. And having granted his people life through the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Acts 2:31-33), God is now forming a new international people, to be spread across the entire world. So Pentecost marks not only the birthday of Israel, but also the birthday of the church.
Acts 2 is one of five places in the New Testament where ‘speaking into tongues’ is referred to explicitly (see also Mark 16:17, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6 and 1 Corinthians 12-14).
In Acts 2, the apostles speak such that those listening hear them declaring God’s praises in their own languages (verses 11). Peter explains that this fulfils Joel’s prophecy that the Spirit would be poured out on all people (verse 17).
Christians disagree as to whether this ability in Acts 2 is the same phenomenon as what’s called ‘speaking in tongues’ elsewhere, especially in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Christians also disagree as to whether speaking in tongues is something that some or all of God’s people can experience today. Whatever your Impact Group members believe about this, it’s worth recognising that – in Acts 2 at least – the Holy Spirit’s empowerment allows God’s people to bear verbal witness to Jesus that they’d previously have considered impossible.
Watch Kana’s story of returning to Japan as a Christian (3 minutes):
Pray by name for those you know (in your Impact Group or elsewhere) returning home to a different country this summer. Pray that each of them would not only manage but thrive in all the changes ahead. Pray that the rest of you will be open to God meeting you as you’re away from home in the next few months too.
Amongst your Impact Group, you may know (or be!) an international student heading home after a spiritually significant time at uni in the UK. Friends International have two excellent resources to help students as they prepare to return:
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