If the Resurrection was a quiet affair that was shielded in silence, the events post-Resurrection glorified the Lord in glorious sound, signs, and wonders.

At the time of the Pentecost, a tremendous sound was heard across the skies, which was followed by a majestic wind. We are immediately reminded of the time when the Lord God revealed himself to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai:

“On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast of the shofar, so that all the people in the camp trembled.

But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain.

Now Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke, because the LORD had come down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently.

The blast of the shofar grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God was answering him with thunder.” (Exodus 19: 16-19)

These events in the days of the Exodus, heralded the solemnity and magnificence of God’s presence. In the New Testament, these same signs are repeated to announce that God was truly present.

It is interesting that with the loud thunderous sound, came a billowing wind. In John 3:8, Jesus says, “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is a wind. This recalls how the presence of God is described in the Old Testament. For example, in 2 Samuel 5:24: “When you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, act decisively, for then the LORD has already gone before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” The “marching in the tops of the balsam trees” refers to the wind that is rustling the leaves. We also know that at the Pentecost, “there appeared to them [the apostles] tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3). Thus, the presence of God anoints the senses – the auditory – to hear the Word of God, the visual – to see the Work of God, the tactile, in the feeling of the wind, to know that the Wonder of God is real and can be felt in a tangible way.

When the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, their old selves were stripped away, and a surprising thing happens with Peter. “Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them.” (Acts 2: 14). Now this was the Peter who out of fear, did not know what to do; who shrouded with doubt and uncertainty, denied Jesus three times. Yet, something new and wondrous had happened, and Peter had broken free of the chains of fear, and was now proclaiming the truth of who Jesus was to a multitude of thousands. It is also exciting to see that a gruff fisherman, was now filled with an astonishing and irrefutable eloquence. The apostles had huddled together in the Upper Room in great duress and fear. They were scared that anything they did would incur the immediate reprove and clamping down from the religious authorities in Jerusalem who had brought about Jesus’ death in a bid to quell the rising wave of accordance and favour. Yet, the Holy Spirit fills them with the clarity of the truth, and ignites their zeal, and what they previously could not do, or thought impossible to happen, they could now do with finesse through Grace.

This Pentecost, perhaps the Church in Singapore needs to pray for this boldness to proclaim. Many are leaving the Church because the Word of God seems dead to them, while the teachings of the Church appear outdated and irrelevant. There are many who are wounded by what the Church did or did not do. With the recent spate of scandals surrounding the abuses of a prominent member of the Catholic Church who is not a priest, in Singapore that has hit the Church for instance, what has come to the fore is a deafening silence and a lack of holding space for those who are hurting, grieving, and feeling lost.  There needs to be reparative and restorative work for the healing of the victims, and the various stake-holders, while accountability and transparency are key in regaining the trust of a multitude scandalised by what has happened. This is not confined to Singapore, as issues of safeguarding come to fore, and decades of silenced abuse in Church-run organisations world-wide are surfaced. In Australia for instance, over 4 decades of systemic abuse was unearthed and charged in a Church-and religious-run residential home for youth-at-risk in 2020. While this is Singapore’s first case of the kind, we cannot be complacent in thinking that this would never happen to us. We must thus ask the Holy Spirit for the courage and boldness to speak and initiate these difficult conversations, while commencing the needed work for safe-guarding in both Church and Church-run schools and organisations. The healing will take time, but steps need to be taken to prevent another occurrence of such scandals.


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan