Letter from Reverend John Spiers - Associate Priest - June 2020

On Easter Day Jesus rose from the dead. Then the disciples met Jesus six times. In the garden, on the road to Emmaus, in a locked room, by the Sea of Galilee. Forty days after Easter Day Jesus ascended to heaven. The disciples then waited. A few hundred dedicated followers of a man who they now truly believed was the Son of God waited. Since Easter their lives had been uncertain. There had been some words of reassurance from Jesus. Yet they were still unsure of what was going to happen next. Then Jesus was gone. God the Son had returned to God the Father. They waited for another ten days. Jesus had said to them: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever.’ That Advocate came on the feast of Pentecost.

We celebrate Pentecost 49 days after Easter. This year it is on Sunday 31st May. We will not gather in any of our three churches for this celebration. They are still locked. However we will worship, on our own or in small family groups. As we worship we should give thanks for the power of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Comforter. It was the Holy Spirit which inspired those early disciples to spread the message that Jesus had taught them across the Roman Empire and beyond. The Holy Spirit came as a violent wind, tongues of fire rested upon the disciples’ heads. Many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the festival of Pentecost. They heard the disciples speaking to them in their own languages. The Holy Spirit is universal, the Holy spirt is inclusive. It is the Holy Spirit that inspires us to share the love of God with one another, a love that is deep within our hearts. This love is about a concern for, or devotion to others.

Since Monday 23rd March our lives have been uncertain. When will this lockdown finish? Will I have a job at the end of all this? This letter is being written just after the lockdown has been eased. When you read this letter will the lockdown have been eased again? Like those early disciples we live in uncertain times. They did not know what their future would hold. Peter eventually travelled to Rome. Thomas is thought to have travelled to Kerala in Southern India. Despite their uncertainty their lives were transformed by the Holy Spirt.

In the uncertainty that we face in the weeks and months ahead will our lives be changed? I believe that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been moved to love one another in ways that we would not have would thought about in early March. Since the lockdown I have witnessed enormous generosity of spirit in our communities in the Benefice. There have been numerous examples where people have been loving to their neighbours as well as loving to those who were strangers.

Jesus called us to carry out two straightforward commandments. Love God and then love our neighbour as ourselves. On the Feast of Pentecost, or Whit Sunday as it was called, we celebrate the power of the Holy Spirit which helps us express that love. But, as we love God and our neighbour, we must remember to love ourselves. Take care everyone. To paraphrase the latest Government slogan ‘be alert, not just for cows on the common, but for each other’s physical, mental and spiritual welfare’.

John Spiers