Readings, Reflections and Prayers for Pentecost, 31 May 2020
Acts 2.1-21; John 20.19-23
ReflectionPentecost Acts 2.1-21; John 20.19-23
On this coming Sunday, the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost – the gift of the Holy Spirit. We associate this day with the account in Acts, after the return of Jesus to the Father, in which there is a dramatic outpouring of the power of God described as being like wind and fire onto, into the waiting disciples. People from diverse cultures and nations hear the good news of Jesus Christ in their own tongue, and Peter, who had so recently denied that he was a follower of Jesus, preaches a compelling sermon which results in three thousand people being baptised. The energy of the Holy Spirit takes the somewhat forlorn bunch of followers of Jesus and transforms them into a world-changing community witnessing to God’s love, justice and mercy. In this way the Christian Church is inaugurated.
But John’s description of the gift of the Holy Spirit is rather different. It is the first encounter of the risen Jesus with his closest disciples – those who had denied and deserted him so recently. He shows them the marks of his wounds, gently breathes the Spirit on them and commissions them to become the community which makes Jesus’ love and forgiveness known in the world. It is altogether a more intimate and individual experience.
We can speculate on why these accounts are so different, but perhaps it’s more helpful to look at what they have in common and how that speaks to our present experience. For the disciples in John’s account, it is still very early days after the events of the crucifixion and resurrection. Their principal emotion is fear. They do not yet understand what has happened, or what the consequences might be for them. Their strategy is to lie low, stick together and await events.
When we meet the disciples in Acts, they have moved on, at least partially. It is just a few days since they saw Jesus vanish from sight to be with the Father. Before he left, he gathered them together and commissioned them to be witnesses to him to the ends of the earth, telling them to stay in Jerusalem and wait to receive power from on high - the gift of the Holy Spirit. So there they are, waiting uncertainly, still vulnerable, perhaps fearful, yet staying together, and praying and worshipping together.
Finally, the waiting and the disciples’ trust in the promises of Jesus was rewarded at Pentecost in the most dramatic way. From this day on we see the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in energising the young church through signs and wonders, miracles of healing and sacrificial sharing, giving courage under persecution and being the guide as the gospel message spreads out to the Gentile world.
We might well identify with some of the emotions of the waiting disciples, as several months on from the start of the Covid -19 outbreak we remain isolated and the future is unclear. Some of us continue to feel vulnerable and afraid. The prospect of an effective vaccine against the coronavirus is by no means certain. Even with an easing of restrictions, the immediate future looks very different as we wonder when we can physically meet together as a church again, receive communion and experience the comfort of human touch from friends and family. Like the disciples we continue to wait in uncertainty.
As we wait, we might be wondering whether God is still at work in the midst of today’s sorrow, heartache and devastation wrought by the coronavirus. The promise of Pentecost is that the Holy Spirit is indeed as active now as 2000 years ago. Whether the Spirit comes to us as a powerful force or as the gentle breath of love, we can be sure that through individuals and communities, through selfless giving of time, resources and skills, the Spirit is at work enabling the love, justice and mercy of God made known to us in Jesus to continue to be revealed. Thanks be to God!
Collect for Ascension Day
Holy Spirit, sent by the Father,
ignite in us your holy fire;
strengthen your children with the gift of faith,
revive your Church with the breath of love,
and renew the face of the earth,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Flame of the Spirit
Flame of the Spirit,
Burn within us,
Set our hearts on fire,
And we shall be changed
Wind of the Spirit,
Blow through us,
Move us by your power,
And we shall be changed.
Breath of God,
Fill our lives,
Inspire our actions,
And we shall be changed.
Whilst we are all still in lock-down (or partial!) I am in the office Monday -Thursday. The times may vary a
little to my normal hours though the phone will always be answered between 9.30 am and midday on these days.
Outside these hours please contact me on 01531 633561 or 07850 892559. Many thanks
Joy (Parish Administrator)
Sunday evening Zoom service at 6.30pm
The link and log in details have been distibuted to those on the Parishioners mailing list. We are aware
that a number of parishioners had an issue with logging in last week, if this happens try logging out of Zoom
and retrying -this usually works!
A request for the Sunday evenings act of worship - Every Sunday at 6:30pm
We shall need volunteers for the psalm reading, the bible reading (liaise with Anne), and intercessions so that an order of service can be circulated. Please contact Marian & Mike (540108)
The Zoom link for the on-line services was emailed to Parishioners, but is also available from the Parish Office (see Contacts page).
Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at
the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join on-line church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
A huge thank you to everyone for their generous donations for the Ledbury Food-bank - a reminder that
collection points (Station car park and Wisteria House, 7 Colwall Green) will be open every Tuesday &
Thursday from 2-4pm