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!