Sometimes a number of things come together at the same time. This Sunday is one of those occasions as we celebrate Pentecost and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Both will involve a ‘coming together’, and I am greatly looking forward to being out in the Diocese in different places with different people of all ages.
At Pentecost, we celebrate that day when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Jesus Christ after he had left the earth and returned to be with God the Father. The coming of the Holy Spirit in great power made possible Christ’s presence within us and between us in every place and time, and the faith of the individual follower is inextricably connected to the community of faith, the Church.
Indeed, community and connection are core to the perplexing and mysterious events as told in Acts chapter 2. It was the Jewish Feast of Weeks, the wheat harvest celebration of Shavuot, fifty days after Passover (hence the word Pentecost derived from the Greek) – a community celebration grounded in thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, thus relationship with God, neighbour and creation is present in the festival, and people from different places and speakers of different languages were gathered together in Jerusalem.
From that moment when the Holy Spirit came in power, Christ’s followers began speaking in different languages and connected with that diverse gathering of people. This is the beginning of the worldwide Church as the early disciples begin confidently living and speaking the good news of Jesus Christ, sharing their story and living out their faith empowered by the Holy Spirit, rooted in the love of God.
Over the next few days, many of us will be ‘gathered together’ in particular places with people from our local communities, hopefully drawing in people of different ages and backgrounds who speak different languages, whether linguistically or culturally. I pray we will have expectant hearts for God to be at work within us and through us as we enter into the story-sharing, laughter, tears, and community camaraderie. May we be fully who we are and participate as confident disciples of all ages, not least as we give thanks for our Queen’s faith and acknowledge her confident discipleship lived out in her many engagements and encounters over the years:
‘Pray that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve him and you, all the days of my life.’ (The Queen’s first Christmas broadcast in 1952).
In Acts chapter 2 we hear how the events of Pentecost led many people to be baptised, and on Sunday in the Cathedral a number of people will publicly make their baptism promises for themselves and I will have the privilege of praying for the Holy Spirt to confirm them in their faith. We will be reminded of our baptism into Christ as we are sprinkled with water, and together as baptised followers of Christ, we will declare that with God’s help we will proclaim the good news of God in Christ by word and example.
As we give thanks for the Queen’s 70 years of service, rooted in her faith and commitment to serve and follow Christ, may our coming together in picnics, parties and so much more, bear witness to God’s love as we pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us here in the Diocese of Gloucester.