Sunday, May 27, 2007

When the day of Pentecost had come the people of St Mary’s were all gathered together in one place and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire church where they were gathered and……

So began the sermon I preached this morning, to a slightly half-hearted congregation in a half full church (Bank Holiday weekend and the start of half-term, - we shouldn't have expected anything else really) , with rain and general mizzle going on outside. And as too often, I emerged from our celebration of this wonderful feast feeling bedraggled and disappointed.
No drama for us!
No tongues of flame, not even any speaking in tongues...
I know that St M's, and its curate, are part of the anything-but-charismatic end of the C of E, but wouldn't it be lovely if the Holy Spirit would sweep us off our feet and surprise us, even so?

But then I remembered a very uncomfortable period in my teens. The Christian Union at school had been gripped by pentecostal fervour and it seemed that everyone in the entire school was speaking in tongues, except me. Earnest 6th formers laid hands on me again and again and again, and I waited excitedly for the amazing gift that I was certain was just around the corner.
Only it wasn't. As the term went on, the 6th formers began to weary of me. They decided that there must be some huge block that was preventing the Holy Spirit from getting through and I began to feel guilty. What had I done that made me so uniquely awful that the Holy Spirit would have no truck with me?

And then (for the first time, I think) God spoke to me - quite clearly. It was, as I remember, on the bus home from school on one wet and windy Friday. I was laden with a cello and the meal I had cooked in Home Ec., as well as the additional burden of feeling outcast and despondent when from nowhere God said
"I have given you the gifts that you need for the work I want you to do. Stop longing for the gifts of others and rejoice in being yourself"

Funny how hard it is to learn that one!
I was 14 at the time, but clearly I'm a distressingly slow learner.



Happy Birthday, everyone!

9 comments:

Sally said...

what a wonderful testimony Kathyrn- we found that God showed up amongst us this morning in a totally unexpected way- but then God is like that....
Peace and blessings
Sally

marcella said...

Thank you for that Kathryn. I needed reminding that we all have DIFFERENT gifts. Anyway, speaking in tongues really wouldn't go down well at the 10am service at St Ms.

Kathryn said...

No, this I realise, Marcella - the thing is, I rather wish they would!

liz said...

Thanks for sharing this - hope that message continues to seep through. Who on earth decided that Pentecost has to be a bank holiday - it just ruins it for the church!

sally said...

Oh kathryn, how this resonates with me...various groups I have been involved with over the years have said and done similar things..I have been prayed over, had hadns laid on me, more praying..and it was always my fault..too little faith, not being willing to let God do His work etc etc..then one day I knew very clearly that God was telling me I ahd the gifts he wanted me to have...of compassion, encouragement and love for others, and I didn't need any more...I know which gifts I would rather have!!!! And you have the ones He wants you to have too!!! xxx

Songbird said...

Your gifts are a gift to me, my friend!

Grace thing said...

Kathryn. It's nice to "meet" you. I enjoy your recent posts. Thanks you for stopping by my blog and adding such wonderful comments. I find them encouraging. I LOVE your story of going to the conference and having your calling affirmed, yet defeated at the same time. It's like God telling you the only way to go ahead is by owning what you know in your heart. Anyway, sorry to talk about my blog on your post...still figuring out this bloggin etiquette. I look forward to reading more. Blessings to you.

Grace thing said...

Two questions, Kathryn, and of course you may not want to answer these. But...how old were your kid(s) when you began your studies toward ordination?

Kathryn said...

Grace-thing...how lovely to have you drop in! Welcome! You're welcome to ask (almost!) any question. (if you want then feel free to email me at revmyname at googlemail dot com).When I started the discernment process my kids were 9,6 and 3...but by the time I was finally ordained deacon and began full time ministry they were 17, 14 and nearly 12. It meant that it was hugely important that my curacy was within reach of their school, as both of the older ones were in the middle of courses for public exams, but that worked out. Oldest is now at university, middle one is taking his A levels and leaves school this summer and babe will do his GCSEs next summer...so will have cleared that hurdle before we positively HAVE to move on (though I'll need to be out of this post by July next year).
It does help. When they were smaller, I was a Lay Reader - and began training for that when the youngest was 1 year old...quite tough.