Rev Janet Owens writes:
This is a very important event for us; a glorious day in the life of the church. It reminds us of the momentous day when Peter and the disciples were gathered together in Jerusalem, just as the Lord had commanded after the Ascension, and they received the Holy Spirit. Here we discover the birth of the church.
We used to call it Whit Sunday - that meant 'white' Sunday and children had new white clothes so that they could look good on their 'Whit Sunday Walk' - a great northern tradition. A wonderful witness to Christ from the churches.
Today we call it Pentecost. For the 'ancient Church' Pentecost was a beginning – a beginning of the Church born in the Spirit of God. It was a beginning of zeal, fortitude and tremendous trust in the Spirit of God in ministry. For many today in the 'modern church' Pentecost has been reduced to an end: the end of the Easter season or some simplified watered-down 'happy birthday' of the Church.
For many, Pentecost remains as much a mystery as the Holy Spirit Himself. Pentecost is an untapped source of tremendous life-giving grace for us individually; the Church and society as a whole. When we, as individuals, are emblazoned with the fire of the Holy Spirit, we bring that fire into the Church and into our community as we live out our lives in our own local society today.
For many of us, these last strange weeks have seen us grappling with technology in a way that we never envisaged we would. Our language has expanded to accommodate many new words and our skill base enhanced (or overstretched!) by the demands of new style communications. From children schooled from home to shopping online or Zoom sessions, our lives are not where we thought they would be only a short while ago.
With this in mind when I was preparing to write this email, for some reason the hymn 'Colours of the Day' came into my mind. The image of rainbows - so familiar to us now and fire, one of the symbolic ways the Holy Spirit is depicted are so prominent in this hymn and offered such visual imagery that I thought I would put newly discovered skills to the test and make a video!
The effort was lengthy; complicated; frustrating but interesting. When finished although it was certainly less than perfect I was thrilled.
Here is my spoken word version. I hope that you will love the images and enjoy hearing the words. We may not be able to go down in the city or into the street but we know that people are needing a friend at this time. The seeds of God's Spirit still need to grow within us so that the love of Jesus will show through us.
I did want to do a musical version, but copyright law prevents it. You can, however, listen to the hymn being sung here.
When the disciples were waiting perhaps they were afraid. We are all afraid sometimes. Fear needs to be conquered by faith in a Divine Person - the Holy Spirit. He will always help us pray and take us to Christ and the Father, but He cannot do this unless we allow Him into our hearts and this takes trust! The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father; is sent by Jesus, our Saviour and He will guide us to the Truth.
So, let us see the Church's Birthday as the beginning of a new year. A year in which under our new circumstances we are told people who have not been into a church for many years, or even at all, are now drawn through this amazing (if at times, mind-blowing) technology into a new awareness of our Christian faith. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our times. Our closed buildings, our lockdown lives cannot stop His work. The fire of God's Spirit can still rest upon each one of us. Just as the disciples could then speak in other languages so can the technology of today help us to take the seeds of Christ's Spirit and let the fruit grow.
Hope you enjoy the video - Good fun to make but I'm not giving up the day job yet!