Pentecost and the New Normal

A Devotional by Pastor Emmanuel Ilagan

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 ESV)


The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost ushered in a “new normal” for the 12 disciples and the others who were with them. It was a new normal created by God within their hearts.


No longer were the Twelve the confused lot who did not understand Jesus’ parables and asked irrelevant questions. No longer were they the timid followers who in times of trouble forgot the power that Jesus had manifested as He calmed the storm, fed thousands and raised the dead to life. No longer were they the scared men who scampered to safety when Jesus was arrested.


The Holy Spirit changed them. They became bold and empowered apostles sent forth by God to proclaim God’s message of reconciliation through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.


It is said that we are entering a new normal in our daily life because of the pandemic.  So we ask: How does God want us to live our lives under this new normal? What is our task as Christians in this new environment?


My former director at World Vision Philippines tells the story of how he began his ministry in Asia. His first assignment was Indonesia. One day the international president of World Vision in the US called him in, told him to pack his bags and go to Indonesia.  He asked what he would do there. In general terms the international president told him the needs in that country, and then said:  “Go and find out what God is doing there and be a part of it!”  That was his job description!


God’s message of reconciling us with God through Christ remains unchanged; it transcends what we label “normal” in our lives and our surroundings.  Therefore as followers of Christ our job remains unchanged, too, for Jesus wants us to carry that message to our world.


We determine the “how to” by going to God’s Word, being deliberate in understanding what is going on in our external environment, discussing and exchanging ideas with other Christians and praying that the Holy Spirit will show us the way.


At the same time we bring HOPE and encouragement especially to those who need it most — the sick, the marginalized, the lonely and the poor. We help sustain their FAITH in God by assuring them that God walks with them through these tough times.  Finally we LOVE them by defending the weak and powerless; by following the public health advisories of the government; and by simply being the kind and loving neighbor Jesus wants us to be. All these as the Lord enables us.


Dear God, as we live during these challenging days console us in our sadness, empower us in our weakness, and strengthen our faith.  Help us discern the job You have for us so that we may give glory to You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.