Message from the Rector
Happy Birthday everyone! Pentecost is widely regarded as the church’s birthday – the day that God’s Holy Spirit arrived on earth with its energy and its inspiration. Our worship is, for the most part, a conventional Holy Communion service but with some extra words and actions that call to mind the true meaning of Pentecost and its ongoing significance. At the end of the service, were we to be in church, each member of the congregation would light a candle from the Paschal Candle that has burned at all of our services since Easter morning. We would then take those candles out with us, carrying the light of Christ out into the world. I will do what I can in the service, but you might like to have a candle handy too. Don’t light it until instructed!
You might also like to know that there will be a special Pentecost service co-ordinated by our cathedral at 4pm on Sunday afternoon. It’s called ‘Catching the Fire’ and will be led by Bishops Martin and Mike. More information, including how to access the service, is here:
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
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.
1 Corinthians 12.3b-13
Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says, ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Come down, O love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardour glowing.
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round,
the while my path illuming.
Let holy charity
mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing;
true lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
and o’er its own shortcomings’ weeps with loathing.
And so the yearning strong,
with which the soul will long,
shall far out pass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace,
till he become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.
Bianco da Siena (d 1434) tr. R F Littledale (1833-90)
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
Reflection for Pentecost Sunday by
The Revd Johanna Mabey
May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
Happy Birthday everyone!
I hope you have balloons, cake and candles at the ready…
because today we celebrate the birthday of the Church which began with the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on the disciples in Jerusalem over 3,000 miles away and 2,000 years ago.
Pentecost celebrates the power of the Spirit, the power of prayer and the power of the Gospel to change lives. I realise the national mood is far from celebratory at present, as fear and distress continue, but our Pentecost joy is a hope…one we need, now more than ever.
It might be helpful to remember that before the day of Pentecost the disciples were afraid too. Even though they had come to believe that Jesus was alive, that he had been raised from the dead, they still feared for their own lives. They were marked men and women. What had happened to Jesus could happen to them if the authorities found them. So, they stayed hidden, as far away from view as possible, locked in the Upper Room where they could feel safe. What would become of them? They could not stay there for ever.
It sounds strangely relevant for our times now, doesn’t it?
Of course, they had their memories: Jesus washing their feet, blessing, breaking and sharing the bread and passing round the cup of wine as he said, ‘This is my Body’ and ‘This is my Blood’; Jesus giving them a new commandment to love one another; promising them the gift of the Holy Spirit. But how could they know what that meant?
Then later, after they had run away and abandoned him, after they had heard of his agonising death, as they lost all hope and thought of running away again, suddenly there He was, certainly the Jesus they had loved and betrayed, but somehow different. And then the last appearance – His ascension into heaven.
Now what? Stay where they were? Better safe than sorry.
But it was all to change. On the Day of Pentecost: the rushing mighty wind blowing through the whole house and the Upper Room; the tongues of flame divided and dancing on the heads of the apostles. The transformation is extraordinary.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, they no longer fear for their lives, but go out to speak to as many people as they can, to tell them that Jesus is alive.
Of course, they didn’t have to worry about social distancing!
In 2016 Archbishop Justin launched the “Thy Kingdom Come” prayer movement and since then, in the ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost, hundreds of thousands of Christians have united in a global wave of prayer. The aim is simple, to pray that though the work of the spirit more people would come to know Jesus Christ.
It’s heartening to discover that according to a recent poll, more people are turning to prayer during the coronavirus pandemic, and nearly a quarter of Brits have watched or listened to a religious service since the lockdown began. That’s around 17 million people, and five percent of them have never gone to church before.
As Christians we are called to pray, and that can feel difficult, especially when so many aspects of our troubled world seem to be intractable and hope feels in short supply.
There’s a quote that’s given me hope and comfort recently. It’s from the Dutch Christian, Corrie Ten Boom. She and her family helped to save many Jews from the holocaust, but they were caught and Corrie and was sent to Ravensbűrck concentration camp. She wrote:
“I have a glove here in my hand. The glove cannot do anything by itself, but when my hand is in it, it can do many things. True, it is not the glove, but my hand in the glove that acts. We are gloves. It is the Holy Spirit in us which is the hand, who does the job. We have to make room for the hand so that every finger is filled. The question on Pentecost is not whether God is blessing our own plans and programs, but whether we are open to the great opportunities to which his Spirit calls us.”
We do know that there can be transformations for good. And it is no great leap to see the Holy Spirit of God at work in God’s world right now, transforming, renewing, healing, and uniting. We only have to think of our medics, care-workers, keyworkers and other inspirational efforts like that of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
We are taught by our Lord that we can ourselves make a difference, though we may never see it, through earnest, faithful, determined, regular, committed prayer that God’s will may be done, and God’s kingdom come.
Now where is that birthday cake?!
Faithful God, who fulfilled the promises of Easter
by sending us your Holy Spirit and opening to every race and nation
the way of life eternal: open our lips by your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Church of England is producing lots of good material and advice at present. This includes some excellent prayers for us all to use and I commend them to you:
You can also join the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich weekly newsletter mailing list by visiting:
The Week Ahead – Next Sunday
7th June – Trinity Sunday
Food Banks – Message from the Community
Suffolk Community Foundation are in need of donations to support the various Suffolk Charities they are involved with, to support them financially go to https://www.suffolkcf.org.uk/in-response-to-the-coronavirus-threat-suffolk-community-foundation-launches-local-appeal/.
How about you??
✞ Wednesday Online Services ✞
|☏ Citizens Advice 📧
The Leiston, Saxmundham and district Citizens Advice would
like to advise that they are there and ready to help. They can provide advice for a wide range of issues from benefits and housing, employment,
and Coronavirus related issues.
Phone – 01728 832193 or Suffolk Adviceline – 0300 330 1151
(Leiston office – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10-2)
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Post – 14 Colonial House, Station Road, Leiston, IP16 4JD
📖 Readers ✞