A Very Special Festival by Rev H James Clarke
We had come down from Damascus for the Festival of Weeks…. we went into the city early
because we thought it would be quieter…. how wrong we were! It was a maelstrom, I was crushed
up against man from Egypt on one side, a woman from across the Jordan on the other, in front of
me were Jews and converts from all over Asia Minor, Greece and even Rome. It was hopeless
trying to get into the Temple. Instead we were shuffling down a side street when an amazing
thing happened…. yes amazing – it literally changed my life , and many others….
On a small balcony a group of people were singing and praising God – nothing specially unusual
about that in the Festival…. but- well my Syrian Aramaic means I can understand the folk down
here ok, but I swear everyone, everyone… Egyptian, Greek, whatever, understood every single
word…. Well, almost everyone, some tried to say the speakers were drunk, but they were not
listening to the words!
I was transfixed by what I heard – “Messiah has come!” – Messiah has come oh, we have waited
so long, as I heard the words I felt on fire, waves of people moved round me, but I was rooted to
the spot. Messiah has come! All those prophecies I learned as a child – had they come true?
The speaker talked about the outpouring of the Spirit, was this what I was feeling, burning away
all the emptiness and loss in my heart? A woman came from the front and gently took my hand
and led me into a room, where we sat and she told me many things, “Messiah has come, he is
Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth, he was executed on a cross, but he is alive! We saw him go to
heaven ourselves!” she looked at me and said, “do you believe me?”
Believe? I knew it was right, she lifted my head, and I saw many others in the room, with the
same look of joy and fire on their faces, did I glow too? Many more were outside, all wanting to
hear more, and filled with a joy beyond my experience and words. Later, many of us were
baptised with water, and filled with the Spirit of God, we praised God for what we had learned,
and what had happened to us. We spent the rest of the day, and the holiday together, but I
couldn’t wait to go back to my home in Damascus, to tell them, Yes! Messiah has come! He is
Jesus, from Nazareth. He died, but he lives on in us!
Rev H James Clarke