“Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ … and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38)
That Pentecost described in Acts 2 was unique – none was ever like it before or after. Yes, pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem for the annual feast, but they received more than what they had come for. Just like the pilgrims that flock Namugongo Martyrs’ Shrines year after year, Jerusalem was especially filled with Jews and Proselytes from Egypt, Libya, Rome, Asia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Mesopotamia, Parthia and Media. Meanwhile, the apostles were holed up in the upper room waiting on a promise. When the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them, the physical manifestation of loud sound and tongues attracted the crowds; it was a miraculous occurrence in which, out of the apparent confusion, the people heard the apostles ‘declaring the wonders of God’ in their different languages!
Simon Peter labored to explain when they asked in wonder, ‘what does this mean?’ His answer was based on a clear knowledge and understanding of Old Testament prophecy as well as the saving work of Jesus Christ. He neatly weaved words of prophets Joel and David with the out-poured Holy Spirit and Jesus as the Messiah. The Jews were already fond of and familiar with the prophetic writings, and now would gladly receive the fulfillment that was clearly evident before their very eyes. The message touched their hearts, and three thousand became believers and were baptized! They were born again, even as new life entered the old feast. Today, we celebrate the renewed Pentecost who preeminent landmark is the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is God’s breath of life: right from Gen 2:7, God breathed in what he had formed from the dust and the man became a living being; in John 3:5-7, Jesus explains that it is the Holy Spirit that gives new birth to those who get born again – He is breath of life. This concept is expandable to the different aspects of life: the Holy Spirit can be God’s breath of life into, an ailing economy, a war torn country, a violent city, a failing relationship, a troubled soul, a barren ministry. Search and present your situation and yourself to God as you seek only one intervention, as expressed in a simple prayer, ‘Breathe on me breath of God’. Edwin Hatch wrote this prayer as a hymn that captures the transforming power of the breath of God – the Holy Spirit:
Breathe on me, Breath of God, Fill me with life anew,
That I might love what Thou dost love, And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God, So I shall never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.
Summarizing the message of the hymn, British hymnologist J.R. Watson suggests that the breath of God “brings new life and love, purity and obedience, surrender and inspiration, and finally eternal life, as the hymn moves through various stages of Christian experience and discipline towards a unity with God.” Make it your prayer today.