Pentecost Reflection

Pentecost Reflection 2020

Reading:  Acts.2.1-21

I wonder if lockdown has caused you to have to forego a birthday or anniversary celebration your were eagerly anticipating.  I had really looked forward to sharing with you the tenth anniversary of my Ordination in Lichfield Cathedral this month, but sadly, because of continued restrictions, that cannot now be the case.  It was a very significant day in my life which I shall always remember, not least because of the beautiful singing of these words by the Cathedral Choir:

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

and lighten with celestial fire;

Thou the anointing Spirit art

who dost thy sev’n fold gifts impart.

It was a very moving moment which I shall always treasure, marking big changes in my life in Gods service.  The day of Pentecost, celebrated this Sunday, brought big changes in the lives of Jesus’ disciples too.  He had promised them, before his ascension, that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable, to empower them, to carry on the work he had begun during his earthly ministry.  And now, fifty days after Passover (which is what Pentecost means) the disciples were all together in a room in Jerusalem waiting for this precious gift to arrive.  We will never know quite what happened at that first Pentecost, but the results are seen in the change that came over the disciples.  St Luke describes it in picture language, the sound of a mighty wind and tongues of fire, which turned them from hesitant, frightened, powerless people, to courageous preachers, ready to proclaim the good news, full of the Holy Spirit and his power.

The message they shared is that God has poured out his Spirit upon all people, not just a select few.  And haven’t we seen evidence aplenty of that during these past few weeks, demonstrations of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control between complete strangers – it has been said, ‘We have become kinder towards one another.’

We’re told as we make tentative moves out of lockdown that we must get used to a ‘new normal’ in our every-day lives, which is exactly what happened on that first Pentecost to the disciples, their lives would never be the same again.  We may not be able to worship together as a Christian family should within a church building at the moment, but we are still called to witness to our faith in the outside world and to do that we need to know the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Pentecost witnessed God moving in a new, dynamic way in the lives of those first believers.  I believe and pray that one day we shall worship together again, and when God chooses to do a similar thing, move in a new, dynamic way in our churches – perhaps in the way we conduct our worship or engage with the community around us, we might be ready to embrace it saying:

‘Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people

and kindle in us the fire of your love.’

Why not use the words of a hymn you all know well as your prayer this week:

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me

break me, melt me, mould me, fill me,

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

May God bless you, and all for whom you pray

Rev’d Norma