Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.
 

Sunday 20th May 2018
Solemnity of Pentecost, Year B
Acts 2: 1-11     Galatians 5: 16-25     John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

Letting The Spirit In.

A great temptation for Jesus must have been to go it alone. He had a tremendous sense of mission from the Father, and it must have seemed a daunting task. Yet he knew that as a man he could not achieve the work he was sent to do. It was humanly quite impossible, therefore it had to be divinely wrought. Instead of launching out alone on his teaching journeys, he waited to be anointed by the Spirit when he was baptised by John, his cousin. Only by the Spirit’s power could the ‘word’ of God become the ‘Word’ of God.

We have the same problem. How often have you heard people say, “It all depends on me”? We can end up thinking that we have to go it alone, ploughing whichever lonely furrow we find ourselves faced with. We can fall into the trap of presuming our own human effort to be all that is required to make things work. And so we become muscular Christians.

The Church too becomes caught in this pattern. In the face of worldwide problems, when attendance numbers seem small, when scandals appear and society seems deaf to the Gospel, we can feel swamped, and the commission given by Jesus to go and teach all nations looks an uphill task.

Pentecost gives the lie to all these feelings. It reminds us we are not alone, that the Paraclete (literally ‘the one called to our side’) has been given to us. It is not as if we are required to ensure the salvation of the world. What we are asked to do is simply to co-operate with God as the Spirit enlightens, encourages and sanctifies those who listen to God’s call. We are sharers in the mission, but the prime mover and the lead part is God.

If we are not to forget the presence of the Spirit, we need to develop the habit of prayer. We need to bring our hopes and fears, our plans and worries before God so that, as the Spirit transformed the early Church, so too will the same Advocate transform our efforts. Jesus reminds us that with the Spirit on our side, even the gates of hell will not prevail against us.

So we are not alone; we are co-workers in God’s plan of salvation. That is why, strictly speaking, the Church does not have a mission. Rather, the Mission has a Church. And Pentecost encourages us to be part of it.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018