The Pentecost service at St John’s on 23rd May was one of the most moving services I’ve been to in a long time. Several people commented about how it had affected them too, but I couldn’t persuade anyone to write about it!
For those who don’t know, Pentecost is the festival where we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit – God’s Spirit which enlivens each Christian. The Holy Spirit is reported in Acts to have come like a wind and also like tongues of fire which rested on each disciple’s head. In St John’s there was a place where we could make “Pentecost Crowns” to depict this (modelled beautifully by Florence in the picture). Incidentally, did you know that bishop’s mitres are shaped like that to look like flames of fire at Pentecost?
Moreover, the disciples were given the Spiritual Gift of speaking in tongues so that they could communicate the Gospel to people in their native tongue. This is because our first responsibility as disciples is to spread the Good News of God’s Love but we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be able to do this. For me personally, the most moving part of the service was being given the privilege of anointing everyone who wanted it. We anoint people with Holy Oil at Pentecost to ask for the Holy Spirit to be present in their lives. I know some people sensed the Holy Spirit very strongly as we sang the song “Be Still for the Presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.”
In our prayers, we thanked God for the Holy Spirit who equips and guides us. Finally, we each had a candle and we took the light from the Easter Candle and passed it from one to another until all our candles were lit. This represented the light of Christ being in each one of us. The liturgy then becomes very challenging – reminding us of our responsibilities on earth, it says:
As part of God’s Church here in the Parish of Badshot Lea and Hale, I call upon you to live out what you proclaim.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, will you dare to walk into God’s future, trusting him to be your guide?
By the Spirit’s power, we will.
Will you dare to embrace each other and grow together in love?
Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?
Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?
Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?
We then extinguished the Easter Candle in silence and we all processed out of the church singing “The Spirit moves to set us free – walk, walk in the light” This represented us taking the light of Christ out into the world. The blessing was outside in the beautiful churchyard in the sunshine.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all those who are on the Worship Groups who plan our services – there is one group for each of the three churches. It has been so good to plan services together and to grow in love and understanding of each other as we have worked together. The services are still developing so please give us your feedback!