Dear friends in Christ: I sometimes wonder if Pentecost is the feast that Holy Church is rather scared of, writes Rev’d Christopher Ketley. Perhaps, you are too? Inviting the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, into a situation, is to invite change – possibly change that you have never imagined. During this Liturgical year we have witnessed vast changes in the lives of the disciples. They have gone from fishermen, tax collectors to itinerant followers of Jesus. This Sunday they become apostles (one could write a book on this change to their lives). As followers of Christ in the 21st Century, the Church’s year follows a predictable and safe, if not reassuring pattern. The ‘new directions’ are well known: expected! We know the story and the outcomes all too well. Have you wondered what the disciples where expecting, at Pentecost, with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Did they realise the implications and what it would mean? If you look at a map of where the disciples preached and witnessed to Jesus I am confident that they would never have expected to travel as far as they did and at what cost to themselves.
Our world is changing and so is the Church: Church has always evolved, but our society and world are changing at a pace which is hard to comprehend. There is much to worry about and the comfort of the familiar is a great draw. Jesus, during His time on earth indicated that following Him was never going to be easy. Didn’t He say: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16.) We are not meant to feel safe. In a world which likes to find fault in people, it is always very easy to criticise a follower of Jesus! It is quite impossible to be perfect! So where does this leave you and I?
I like to think that each of us is born with a solitary task to fulfil and those we meet on our way help or hinder us in its completion: alas for the one who is unable to distinguish between them. Makoto Fujimura says in discussing his art and the painting above: “My offering will not be complete until the viewer moves into the mystery with faith, and then upon receiving the work, brings that mystery of God’s Presence to the world.” We, like Mary (Jesus’ mother) are called to make Christ present in the world. Our task is simple: we must Love our enemies, and at Pentecost, we must learn to Love to God. We have already taken the first step. We must now take the second, third, fourth, fifth …
Yours in Christ