The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
When you have something important to say, It can be really important that people know who you are and what gives you the position to be able to speak. Like when you are at a school meeting and get up to speak, you might say ‘my name is Robin, my daughter is in year 3.’ before you begin to speak. It’s a kind of authority. When I was at Airbus we had many contractors who would work alongside Airbus employees, working within teams, doing the tasks they were assigned. As a young man who dressed well it was sometimes assumed when meeting with other departments that I too was a contractor – and therefore that I wasn’t in it as anything more than a mercenary and so my view could be ignored. When I corrected them and explained that I was an Airbus employee and the role I had, why I was in the meeting or what I was responsible for, I gained a credibility and an authority as a representative of whatever division of the company I was working for. Suddenly the perception of those I was speaking to,
and their response changed.
On Thursday the Bishop of London handed Catherine a certificate and said ‘Receive Authority’. As a licensed lay minister Catherine is given authority by the Bishop to preach, to lead services of the word, to teach, to administer communion, to generally administer the role of a licensed lay minister in this church. It is wonderful that Catherine has responded to a calling to this form of ministry and taken this on, alongside all the other things she does. But she is not the only one who is given authority.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans we are reminded that we are adopted by God so that we are fellow heirs of the glory of God, alongside Christ. This gives us authority to cry Abba, Father, alongside Christ. In the Pentecost reading from Acts the disciples, gathered together to support each other, The Holy Spirit fills them and immediately they begin to speak. The disciples must have felt, as they gathered in that room, like they had no credibility anymore. They were defined as disciples, students of Jesus, only now there was no Jesus – he had ascended – and they had been left behind. But just as Jesus authority came from the Father, so the disciples authority would come from the Spirit. So in the midst of all the excitement of tongues of flame
and violently rushing wind, and speaking in multiple languages, the greatest miracle was simply that the disciples had received authority to be the bearers of the good news.
So we are called by the same spirit. Each year we are reminded that after Christ’s death, resurrection and Ascension, the Church is born through the giving of God’s spirit to us. You are each, as members of the church, as children of God, given authority by the same spirit which came at Pentecost to prophesy, to dream dreams, to have visions, to speak and act as ambassadors of Christ in the world.
So at the end of the service, as we did last pentecost,I will ask you to stand and answer the question ‘will you dare to do God’s work’ by sharing hospitality, or by working with the children, or by singing in the choir. And finally I will ask you all to stand and ask if you dare to carry the light of Christ into the world. I will then anoint you each with the oil of Chrism, anointing you for the task at hand, an outward sign of the spirit of God coming into you and giving you the authority to be his representative to the world.
This is the day when we celebrate the birth of the church – that is the community of those who follow Christ. And we are reminded that we are a priesthood of all believers, we have all been given authority by God to do administer the work of a Christian by sharing the love of God and in so doing pointing to the God who restores us all to him. So let us take a moment of silence to listen for the Spirit working in us so, preparing us for what we are to do.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
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