The Church as an Institution has always been uncomfortable with the exuberence of Pentecost (Acts 2) – perhaps it was the early start, or the babble of languages from the known world, or the divine flame powering an explosion of evangelism and joyful explanation of what God had done and still does, in and through Jesus Christ. Jesus now revealed as The Saviour, not just of Israel, but of all the nations of the earth. New life, welling up like a bubbling spring, God in sovereign freedom bringing love and liberation. And we are worried; God might change things. God might change…..me. Perhaps a better way to think about it is that God by his Spirit opens up to us new possibilities, and graciously invites us to walk with him on a path other than that which we might have chosen if left to our selfish selves. And at Pentecost we are reminded that Jesus, our Lord, is Lord of all, and that his fulness is for every Christian, not just the heroes of the New Testament.
Every now and then, back as a young curate in Otley, West Yorkshire, All Saints’ Church would invite a black gospel choir from inner city Leeds to come and lead our worship. On one occasion we took the service out into the town, and set up in the park on the banks of the river Wharfe. There were just twelve of them in the choir, but they made more noise than our average congregation (usually about 70 folk) even with the organ. “God don’t need no matches….” the leader sang, at considerable pace, and with a terrific rhythm. “He’s a fire by himself!” responded the choir. “Fire!….Fire!…He’s a fire by himself!” They sang this a few times more, and then the leader turned to us. “God don’t need no matches…” he sang out. “He’s a fire by himself…” we sang back, Yorkshire reserve strangely loosened. Smiles all round, even from Olive, the robustly English chair of the Otley branch of the Mother’s Union. You couldn’t help but join in. “Fire!….Fire!….He’s a fire by himself!…”
Worship Services for Pentecost Sunday 28th May
9.30am Holy Communion at St John’s, Stoke Row with Revd Angela Linton
11am Holy Communion for Pentecost at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies
Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm 410 935 129
Midweek service at Checkendon Church : Wednesday 24th at 1.30pm. Checkendon Primary School pupils share in a service of prayers and readings for Pentecost. All welcome!
The robins nesting in the stable have fledged and flown (three successful chicks) and so the nest has been removed from our garden chairs. A blue tit nesting in the roof above our porch was distressingly caught on a piece of nylon line, presumably which it had brought back to augment its nest. The line had somehow tangled around its leg, and it was thus tethered to the building, fluttering wildly around until some scissors could be brought to bear to cut it free. So it is not just the seabird population put in peril by our wanton littering. “No Mow May”, and my own condition (below) mean that mowing is rather delayed, and the Rectory lawn is now more a prairie, or a savannah. Every day I look to check for herds of buffalo, or antelope….but have to content myself trying to be restrained about putting tender seedlings out in their final positions. However the courgettes have gone in and must take their chances. The climbing beans are champing at the bit under glass, waiting for me to get on and build their bamboo wigwam. The pampas grass has had its triennial “firing”, a two minute conflagration of intense heat and very little smoke. All it takes, and you don’t believe it until you see it, is just one match. It goes off like a rocket, and, for a short while we have our very own “burning bush” in the front garden, with flames reaching perhaps twenty feet into the air. And in a couple of months it will green up again, unscathed, but refreshed by the burning. A Pentecost lesson for us all, surely?
Many thanks for all the good wishes I’ve received in the last week – you’ll be pleased to hear I’m fully recovered, and bar a ban on “heavy lifting” for the next few weeks am functioning with green lights across the board. Do join us at our Pentecost celebrations this coming Sunday. Matches are optional, but the Lord doesn’t need them. He’s…..
Your Rector, Canon Kevin.