Tag Archives: Pentecost

Come Holy Spirit

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?

We will.

Will you dare to share your riches in common and minister to each other in need?

We will.

Will you dare to pray for each other until your hearts beat with the longings of God?

We will.

Will you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world’s dark places?

We will.

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!

Pentecost Sermon 27/5/12 (Lesley)

Icon of the Pentecost
Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Holy Spirit can sound a bit scary:

 

Holy Spirit – Holy Ghost

 

One of my friend’s husbands called it the Holy Spook.

 

And also it can make us think about people who seem a bit weird:

 

In one church which was quite formal a woman who had just become a Christian, and she was really excited about what she’d experienced, about the Holy Spirit. And in the middle of the service she shouted out, `Hallelujah!’ And the churchwarden was standing at the back, and he came up to her and tapped her on the shoulder and said, `Madam, you mustn’t say that here!’ And she said, `But I’m so excited! I’ve got religion!’ So he said, `Well, you didn’t get it here, madam.’

 

It might be worth looking at the Bible to see instances of the HS.

 

The Holy Spirit was in creation – brooding over the waters… it is creative and brings change.

 

The Holy Spirit gives gifts – in Exodus one of the craftsmen was named as filled with the HS to perform all sorts of crafts – creative again.

 

Gideon was afraid until he was filled with the HS.

 

The HS enabled Samson to break free of his bonds.

 

In Joel it says that the Holy Spirit is for all people – all people – you, me, everyone.

It will result in old men dreaming dreams and young men having visions, and all of us, women too will have this fantastic sense of God within us and of God’s dreams and visions.

 

I was talking to someone this week who told me that she suddenly realised that she had faith, and with this realisation came this sense of God within her. Wow! It made me realise how exciting being a Christian is – sometimes we just take it for granted. We compared notes – I feel the HS in my heart, for her it was partly in her heart and in her gut too – this sense of God with us.

 

Remember the Holy Spirit is for us all – every one of us, those of us who are near and those who are far away, and it will cause something new to happen, something creative, something that frees us, something that gives us a vision for the future.

 

When we try to be Christians in our own strength then it is like a balloon filled with air –we have to hold it to keep it up. That is sometimes called muscular Christianity – we toil, we struggle, we do it in our own strength. But if we have a balloon filled with helium then it will rise up to heaven unless we keep it down. Perhaps it is our fears, or our sins or our circumstances that keep it down. Perhaps we need to be freed of some of this stuff.

 

I believe that the Holy Spirit come to give us freedom. The Bible tells us that it was for Freedom that Christ has set us free, no longer to be subject to a yoke of slavery. It seems to me that it is mostly the fears that stop us being free.

 

When I was preparing for this sermon I looked in a book that gives quotes or thoughts for each sermon and it used an essay about the film Shirley Valentine as the example for Pentecost. Which surprised me rather. If you haven’t seen the film then it is a gentle comedy of a woman, middle-aged wife and mother who is stuck. Stuck in her life. Rather unhappy. She goes to Greece, I think, on holiday with another woman who is her friend and meets a Greek called Costas and has a torrid affair. Then at the end of the film she calls for her husband and he comes out and walks past her on the beach. She calls to him and he doesn’t recognise her and she responds:

“I know. I used to be The Mother. I used to be The Wife. But now I’m Shirley Valentine again. Would you like to join me for a drink?”

The last line of the film is from him “Er… thanks”.

 

I was a bit non-plussed – I’m used to Christian books moralising at me. What was this story saying?

 

I think it is that the Holy Spirit frees us to be truly and wonderfully ourselves. And the real us is beautiful and happy and open and free and finding that person and letting her or him out of the cages that we put her or him in is part of the work of the Spirit.

 

Each night I use an Ignation style of prayer, and in this prayer the first part is Consciousness – becoming aware of God, then the second part is freedom – which still surprises me. God is not foreign to my freedom – God wants to set me free.

 

But the HS also is about sending us out. It is interesting that the HS enabled everyone to speak in languages that others could hear. It was like a reversal of the Tower of Babel curse, where people could no longer understand each other. The HS allows us to connect more deeply with others. Psychologists tell us that the most important thing for us all is to have connection. As Christians we might say love.

 

So where is the HS leading us as a church? It makes sense to try to see what the Spirit is doing and join in.

 

Unlike the vicar who enjoyed sitting at the bottom of his garden where a train line ran past. And when asked why he liked watching the trains he replied that it is the only thing that moved through his Parish without him pushing it.

 

It isn’t like that here – much is moving, it seems like loads of trains are happily moving and building up steam and it is nothing to do with me or Alan – we didn’t touch them!

 

Let us watch and pray and asked to be filled and freed and join in with what God is doing to serve those who we live alongside.

 

Amen