Friday, 21 May 2021
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Sunday the Church throughout the world will celebrate Pentecost, the moment when the promised Advocate came among us; the moment when the Holy Spirit was revealed in the unpredictable force of fire and wind; the moment when simple people were empowered to speak the Good News of Jesus Christ to the whole world. This Sunday we are called to hear of that energising and inspiring moment once again, and to reconsider how it might change us.
In recent times the Church has been forced to look at itself and go through the painful process of examining how it might connect with those who have either been forced to isolate and shelter, or who have chosen to protect themselves in that way. The Church has been compelled to consider both spiritual and practical matters in relation to its identity and continuing mission to all. The wonders of modern technology have created a medium through which the gospel message can be spread far and wide at the click of a button … although an incredible amount of preparatory work has to be done before that ‘button’ will work. For some this has been a lifeline, for others it has been a source of frustration and anger. But, in times of restriction it has given us a way of connecting with others in prayer and worship; it has provided us with a model of evangelism in the face of great tribulation.
The word Pentecost means ‘fiftieth’, it is merely a description of where we are in relation to the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter: we are now at the fiftieth day since that moment when the history of the human race was changed for ever. Those fifty days have been a time of rejoicing and wonder, and they have been a time of waiting. Now the waiting is over. As we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit we are called, like the first disciples, to step out in joy and tell the world that that joy is rooted in our faith in our Risen Saviour, Jesus Christ.
It is well-known that the Church of England is travelling through challenging times. Because of the profile afforded the Church of England and its leaders, we miss the fact that all Christian denominations are travelling through and wrestling with the same issues, as also are communities of other faiths. But … this is not the time to write rude letters to the clergy, to politicians, to the media, to anyone you think might engage with our personal angst and anger. This is the time to step out and speak boldly of Jesus Christ. This is the time to play our individual and personal roles in furthering Christ’s mission where we live, and work, and take our leisure.
In the Acts of the Apostles we read of the fearful and timid disciples allowing the Holy Spirit to change them completely. They allowed the Holy Spirit to invest them with courage, determination and power. Why can we not do the same? Why do we have to remain wedded to ‘our engagement with Church’ as though it were written in tablets of stone, and the only way of worshipping God?
Pentecost is a time to shake off the old … our habits, our practices, our preferences, our prejudices, our anger, our desire to control. Pentecost is the time to let God lead the way. I pray that the courage, the determination and the inspiration that is rooted in the coming of the Holy Spirit may renew us all as we go forward as loving and serving apostles of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God.
With every blessing to you all,