Sunday, May 19, 2013

Together for Pentecost

Thanks to a run of many funerals, rather less sleep than is helpful and a wonderful but wearing time on the "hook a duck" stall at yesterday's May Fayre, I woke this morning not actually at the top of my game.

Actually, as I reflected on the life of our church, which is feeling the loss of some dear and special people who've recently gone home to God, it seemed to me that NONE of us was at the top of our game.

We weren't quite huddled in the upper room for fear of the Jews, but there was rather less Easter joy than might be hoped. The famous description of the Norwegian Blue Parrot after a long squawk seemed moderately appropriate, really.

And then worship began. The liturgy set the scene....

And now, with the followers of his own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, his gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world.

I knelt at the altar step trying with all that was in me, as I do whenever I kneel there, to carry the needs and longings of all the church family to God in my heart
We prayed together 

As we wait in silence,
fill us with your Spirit.
As we listen to your word,
fill us with your Spirit.
As we worship you in majesty,
All fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your refreshing,
fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your renewing,
fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your equipping,
fill us with your Spirit.
As we long for your empowering,
fill us with your Spirit.

And then it seemed to me that something changed. 
Half way through the responses I realised that 
I was actually expecting something to happen...
And perhaps that's what matters. 
If you are looking for evidence of God's Spirit at work - you are far more likely to encounter it than if you are trudging onward (whether literally or figuratively), eyes to the ground.
There wasn't a dramatic transformation (no, I'm STILL not speaking in tongues! but I'm beginning to think that this is a semi public joke between me and God)  - more a steady increase of quiet joy so that by the time we reached Communion I was finding it very hard not to grin like a lunatic at each and every communicant.

Actually, I'm not sure I even tried. I just grinned!

And I learned a couple of things from the talk too...even though I was the one giving it.
We had a bowl of sand, which I invited one of the children to landscape for me - before I turned the hairdryer on it - destroying his sandhill in seconds - and, of course, making no end of collateral mess in the process. 
That's just how it is.
When the wind of the spirit blows, when we find our lives re-designed by God, it does have an impact beyond our own small corner and it may well be messy for a while....

A few deflated balloons were a distressingly effective symbol of a collection of weary Christians keeping on keeping on as best they can.I suggested that Eeyore was right -t that nobody could possibly be uncheered with a balloon - but there wasn't much evidence to support this.
Once said balloons had some air in them, though,

we couldn't help but start playing...and I'll not forget the joy of the children leaping and bouncing their balloons down the aisle as a sort of short-hand for all the energy and delight of the Spirit's work of transformation.

Flags, windmills and a sailing boat did their part too - but my final plan was to hand out lots of dandelion clocks and invite everyone to blow - dispersing the seeds as the Spirit sends us out into the world to change it for God.
The "clocks" were suitably grey and fluffy and some at least were so ready to send forth their seeds that they all came off in the car...others, though they looked the same, just weren't ready. I'd been deceived by appearances and tried to hurry them! Even the hair dryer couldn't persuade them to budge...
And if I'd only left them alone - in a day or two no doubt they would have done their bit to increase the national dandelion collection that is found in the vicarage garden...
but then I might have missed a crucial point. 
God gives us the time we need in which to respond to the Spirit. If it seems that nothing much is happening - that aint necessarily so. 

For a sometimes impatient vicar who wants the church to turn the world upside down overnight, that's a lesson worth remembering.


Penelope Swithinbank said...

Thank you for this joyous account of Pentecost praise! I hope you don't mind but I've quoted from it and linked to it on my blog today!

Allie said...

This is cool!