We will be celebrating the coming of the holy spirit at Pentecost next weekend – it follows ten days after Ascension. In Luke’s gospel we read that just before His Ascension Jesus said to his disciples “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” After the very first Ascension Day the disciples were gathered with others in Jerusalem. There they were devoting themselves to prayer while they waited for the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, before they carried out Jesus’ instructions to spread the gospel throughout the world. They recognised their reliance on the gift of the Holy Spirit.
During the time between Ascension and Pentecost the Archbishops ask us to join the global wave of prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come‘ calling all Christians to pray for more people to come to know the love and peace of Jesus Christ. Just as the disciples were reliant on the Holy Spirit so too are we – we are powerless in our own strength, but John reminds us in his gospel (John 14:16) “the Father…will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth”
On the 5th June we will also be celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at a service in church followed by a BBQ and party afterwards, giving thanks for her 70 years of faithful service. Like the disciples, God is calling us to open our hearts and open our doors and to spread the gospel. We all have lots of opportunities to do this in our lives and by our prayers. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations offer us another opportunity to extend a radical invitation to everyone in our village and beyond to join us that morning. It gives us the chance to build relationships and be bold in our faith-sharing.
Though the Queen does not frequently publically refer to her faith in many of her Christmas messages she does talk of her personal relationship with Jesus and its importance in her life. Two such examples are: ‘Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.’ and “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace…is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”
The Queen is an example to us all, she has led a life of faithful service in this country and beyond. Let us pray that our faith is reflected in our lives of service, love and care for others and for our world.
We also have the chance to get involved later this month in refugee week (20th-26th June)- Refugee Week’s vision is “for refugees and asylum seekers to be able to live safely within inclusive and resilient communities, where they can continue to make a valuable contribution.”
The theme being explored this year is ‘Healing’. “Healing means recovering from a painful experience or situation, so that we can continue to live. No-one understands this better than those who have lost their homes and had to build new lives from scratch. We have much to learn from refugees about holding onto hope when going on seems impossible…Those going through the asylum system also know that healing is an ongoing process, made harder by poverty, housing difficulties and the threat of being detained or deported.“
There are many ways we can get involved, there are local organisations we can support. The new Nationality and Borders Bill is cruel legislation that will undoubtedly cause harm. Most of us want an asylum system that is fair, orderly and humane – there has been an outpouring of welcome shown to people fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan. We can advocate for changes, that show refugees they can truly feel safe in our country. We need to act with care and compassion – as Christians we are reminded in the Letter to the Hebrews (13:1-3) to “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
May we who know the blessings God pours upon us, seek to be a blessing in the lives of others through love and service.