Thanks to the kindness and thoughtfulness of a parishioner we have a
number of frozen shepherd’s pies from the Ivy Restaurant to distribute
to those who are isolated and who would appreciate a prepared meal. The
pies are approximately 400g and need to be cooked from frozen. If you
would like a pie, or know someone who would like one, please contact
either Ginny –[email protected] – 01608 683 584, or Claire –
[email protected] – 01608 642 150. The pies, for which there
is no charge, will be delivered this week.
This week’s service for Pentecost has been recorded at St Nicholas, Heythrop. There are
some background noises of a typical isolated church; young jackdaws in a
nest, hungry lambs and enthusiastic builders. To download the link please click here:
Pentecost (Whitsun): Sunday 31st May 2020
God, who as at this time
taught the hearts of your faithful people
by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgement in all things
and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;
through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Although the Feast of Pentecost is not as well known as Easter or Christmas, it has been celebrated by Christians since the late first century. It celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples; God’s generous, creative and sometimes wild power to transform people’s lives and so the world.
Ultimately the majesty, power and mystery of God’s spirit is beyond words, beyond description; images can only struggle but never fully describe and contain God’s being.
It was at Jesus’ baptism that the Holy Spirit descended on him ‘like a dove’, symbolising God’s peace, not just the absence of conflict and rivalry but the active condition of loving and nurturing, of mutual giving and receiving, of justice and mercy.
In Bavaria in medieval times, this image of the Holy Spirit as a dove was celebrated at Pentecost when a wooden dove would be lowered down through the roof of the church, hovering over the congregation. But then to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit was not wooden and fixed, the choirboys up in the roof would tip buckets of water down on the congregation to literally drench them with God’s Spirit. The one who got the wettest was known in the town for the next year as the Pfingstvogel, the Pentecost Bird.
In the reading from the Book of Acts, Luke uses two other biblical images to describe the coming of Holy Spirit, wind and fire; ‘And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind …………. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them.’
The image of wind links back to the opening chapter in the book of Genesis when ‘a wind from God swept over the face of the waters’, or in another translation ‘brooded over the face of the waters’, the creative force that brought the world into being, forming and shaping it so that it became a place where life in its many forms can be sustained and flourish.
The image of fire links back to the story of Moses and the burning bush – the fire which illuminates but doesn’t burn. It was fire that led the Israelites by night after they had fled from Egypt, fire symbolising the presence and power of God.
Fire has several properties; it can destroy, but it can also purify, get rid of something harmful. It can provide heat and energy. At Morning Prayer during the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost the Church prays for the Holy Spirit to ‘kindle in us the fire of God’s love’, God’s love which is sacrificial, merciful, generous and life giving. In Italy it used to be the custom to scatter rose petals from the ceiling of churches to recall the red fiery tongues over the disciples’ heads in Luke’s description in the Book of Acts, a sign that they were to catch fire with God’s love.
Through the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the disciples were transformed from a group of frightened and stumbling followers of Jesus into courageous proclaimers of the good news of God’s love for the world and made it a reality. Although we are unable to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost in church this year, may we nonetheless pray for the Holy Spirit to be showered on us and the fire of God’s love to be kindled in us in these challenging times.
Gracious God, pour out your Spirit upon your people, and grant to us a new vision of your glory; a new faithfulness to your Word; a new consecration to your service; that your life may grow among us, and your kingdom come; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Anglican Church in Australia)
The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth,
give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God;
and the blessing of God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be among us and remain with us always. Amen.