That's the Spirit!
Sunday, May 31st - Pentecost
Whirlwind Spirit of God,
Roar through our timidities and fears,
Shake the foundations of our ill-placed securities,
Sweep away the cobwebs of our apathy,
Blow down the walls that separate us, one from another.
Then into all our empty spaces, breathe
re-strengthened courage to challenge injustice,
renewed belief in the urgency of our vocation,
revitalised passion to change our lifestyles,
re-dedication to speak only words that build and unite.
Let gentle breeze and still small voice
become in us today
mighty wind and loud proclamation.
Make of us a Pentecost people!
We have some powerful images of God as Holy Spirit. Wind and Fire, the Dove, the Counsellor, the Breath of God. Most of these images are, like the wind, something we can only describe in terms of the effects the Spirit has on us. An energising power, a purifying force, a still, small voice, an unseen companion.
So to gauge the presence of the Spirit in the church, we look at the evidence of what impact the Church has as an institution as well as our own effectiveness as individual Christians. It is difficult to feel that the Church as a whole has much impact on the life of our country at present.
When church leaders speak out on matters such as Dominic Cummings' antics, they are accused of meddling in politics and told to get back to being 'spiritual'.
But politics is about people by definition. Not to be confused with party politics. I don't feel that the church leaders have spoken out sufficiently about justice, truth telling, tribalism, the arms trade, poverty, refugees, oppression. That's the kind of politics Jesus got involved in throughout his short ministry. We see his passion when he overturns the tables of the money lenders, berates the pharisees for their legalism and hypocrisy, rebukes his own disciples for thinking of places of power and influence for themselves and not having time to listen to children.
There is no better time than now for the Church to open its doors wide and let God's Spirit blow the cobwebs away and reinvigorate us all with a passion for the things that really matter. It won't be a recipe for continued indifference to what we are about. Calling for peace and justice and equality will never go down well with politicians bent on making their countries great again! This world needs to be turned upside down again and it will take guts and determination to achieve that - with a good dose of passion thrown in.
But the Church is made up of individuals. The likes of you and me. So we cannot duck and hope the bishops and moderators get the flack. We are called to be the instruments of God's peace; sow love, pardon, consolation, understanding. If there is one image which it seems to me is most appropriate for the Spirit for us as individuals, perhaps it is that of Paraclete. A counsellor, an advocate, a strengthener.
There will be many casualties of this pandemic. Many who will be mentally struggling, financially destitute, physically abused, isolated, homeless, grieving. They will need a listening ear, an encouraging word, social action on their behalf, an arm around the shoulder, a spokesperson for their cause. That's where most of us come in. For most people, the effects they will be looking for will not be in terms of world events, but what happens on their doorstep which will transform their lives for the better.
Most of us are not called upon to perform anything spectacular and earth shaking. We are called to be faithful to our calling and pursue it with a passion.
Mother, Father God,
Fill us with your Spirit and guide us through this time
That people will know that we are Christians by our love.
Wild geese, a celtic symbol of the Holy Spirit, flying past the Lleyn Peninsula