The Feast of Pentecost

As the cut ribbon and the silken ends fluttered, the eye of the trout that had lived as quick and light as water itself, stared sightlessly as though at something finally arrived, then rolled loosely back. The dome of the sky looked down at it. And the applause rang out.

So end’s Brian Clark’s deeply moving book The Stream, an account of the destruction of a river  by the forces of apathy and materialism. There are no villains in the book - only ordinary people seeking to live comfortable lives -and in consequence not noticing life and love and God. The waters of life are destroyed because the stream is neglected, drained, poisoned.

The great Feast of Pentecost is a celebration of what God is about: God seeks through creation and history to restore us and our world to be whole and new once again in God’s love. The goodness of God’s creation has been marred and muddied by greed, apathy, sloth, lust - and , like the trout in Brian Clark’s book, we ourselves, we humans, are in danger of being smothered  in a miasmal mist of  evil - except, unlike the trout , much destruction is of our own making. The feast of Pentecost celebrates that God  the Holy Spirit is  breaking down the barriers that divide us - barriers of gender, sexuality, class, race, belief, fear, greed and  custom. God longs to set us free to be fully human in God. The feast of Pentecost celebrates that God is acting to unblock the ancient springs of living water and to refresh us again.

There is a story of a little French village high in the mountains. Up on the top of the mountain lived an old man who was employed to keep all the little streams free and fast flowing. As he did his work year by year so the river that ran through the village sparkled clear and supported  fish and birds, trees and flowers - and a substantial tourist trade and so the life of the village. One day a  town councillor noticed that the old man had been paid a paltry sum for his work of keeping the streams flowing and clear. Why this waste? , cried the councillor . we cannot need to pay an old man for this. And so the old man was retired - and the streams clogged up and the river became foul and death-dealing and the village began to die.

Our vocation as the people of God is to keep open the fresh streams of the living water of the Holy Spirit. What are those springs? how have we been watered by the Holy Spirit for the good of our society, for the good of the whole of creation?  The springs are many and numerous : our worship together Sunday by Sunday, day by day , especially the holy Eucharist; our daily prayer, our shared and deep study of Holy scripture, music in all its rich variety, the performing and visual arts, gardening, cookery, story-telling, walking, our friendships -  through all of these the Holy Spirit summons us to new life, to joy, to creativity, to healing and wholeness.

God’s Holy Spirit, The Paraclete ,sent by Jesus our Ascended Lord,  comes alongside us  and re-creates us. (The Greek word “Paraclete” means “the one who comes alongside”)

 In the beginning the Holy Spirit broods lovingly over the chaos of pre-creation – and what comes forth is declared by God to be very good.

 In Nazareth the Spirit of God courteously overshadows Mary and, with her permission and co-operation, that which is born of her is the Son of God.

 In the Upper Room of Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes as wind and fire to the waiting disciples, the church community is transformed into an inclusive and welcoming community and move out as apostles to the whole world to live the healing and renewing life of Christ for all.

In our Baptism and Confirmation we experience the Holy Spirit drawing alongside us to work with us throughout our lives – assuming we are prepared to say Yes- so that bit by bit we truly become what we have always had it within us to be.

Always the Paraclete works alongside us with care, with courtesy, with understanding. God never forces us to say yes – but God places within us through the Spirit a certain restlessness, a certain divine frustration so that we yearn with God for the whole creation including ourselves to be re-made, re-created in the image of God.

The Spirit places deep within us a longing for peace, for justice, for truth, for community, for inclusivity. No part of our life is exempt . Day by day the Paraclete draws alongside to encourage us to draw nearer to God. Bit by bit we are changed – always with our permission though often at great personal cost. Our life styles, our relationships, our use of money, our morals and ethics, our beliefs, our comprehension of God – bit by bit all is brought to be at one with God in the power of the Spirit. We are remade in God’s image; we grow into unity with one another and with God, we become holy, we reach out win Jesus’ love and forgiveness and reconciliation to all. In the Spirit we are made one with Christ – and we feed on the Spiritual food that is the Body of Christ. We are refreshed by the living water of the Spirit.


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