2 June – Tom Cooper, Reader, St Mary’s Buriton

The coming of the Holy Spirit – challenge and comfort

Pentecost, marking the gift of the Holy Spirit, feels a lot different from last year. Then we were unable even to enter churches. Now we can meet and have a small choir of six voices, suitably masked and socially-distanced, as we did at the Petersfield Deanery Day at St Mary’s, Liss. It was a joy to be able to celebrate an act of worship together to give thanks and praise to God – and to share this with all those who were able to join us on Zoom.

Pentecost is all about enabling change. God is transformative – the small group of disciples who, before Pentecost, were hiding away in the house where they were gathered, were ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ and were empowered to come out and associate with and speak to others about ‘God’s deeds of power’. Pentecost was an inclusive event. People who had not heard about Jesus before were enabled to hear the Good News – the Gospel.

Change is also challenge. It is not easy to take risks. The coming of the Holy Spirit drove the disciples far from their comfort zones and led to the creation of the church. But the Spirit did not just bring challenge. The Spirit also brings courage and empowerment, and a new beginning. As Christians, we have the opportunity every day to make a new beginning – a new beginning to our faith and to our deeds.

The last year has given us all plenty of evidence of how so many people have found new ways of helping others and living out their Christian faith, even in the midst of repeated lockdowns. As we look forward with hope to the further easing of restrictions, let us pray for the Spirit to help us meet challenges and opportunities with confidence.