31st MAY 2020
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
Collect: Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire; strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Readings: Numbers 11.24-30; Acts 2.1-21, John 7.37-39
For your prayers:
- All those across the world affected by the Coronavirus; the sick and the frightened
- For all medical professionals and researchers
- The residents and staff of care homes, including those in our parish - Cedar Lodge, Aspen Court and Northway House
- The sick and those who have die
Listening Chaplaincy phoneline, and all the volunteer chaplains including those
from St Andrew's and Rowbarton Methodist.
RIP: Jim Hurst
- Please note that all church services, meetings and events are suspended until further notice, and the church building, hall and office will remain closed.
- See back page for on-line prayer resources.
Message from Rev’d Deborah Kirk and Rowbarton Church
To our friends at St Andrew's and St Peter's : in more 'normal' times, we would be sharing this special Festival together, as an expression of our desire to witness together in unity, praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit to encourage our faith and transform our communities. This greeting is to let you know that you have partners beyond your congregation who are holding you all in prayer, and are looking forward to the time when we might worship together again.
May the Spirit of God bring energy where there is weariness, encouragement where there is struggle, and peace where there is turmoil, now and in the days ahead, in Jesus name. Amen.
Come, Holy Spirit
Reflection for the Day of Pentecost
Happy Birthday everyone, as I often say on this day, the Day of Pentecost. For today is often regarded as the birthday of the Church. This is the day that the embryonic Christian movement, which had been on the starting blocks since Ascension Day, really gets going. For the first time the full Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to the world. This is the day when a bunch of frightened men come out of their shell and shout out the name of the One who was crucified and who rose again.
On Ascension Day, Jesus does not merely, “go back to Heaven.” As one fully and physically risen from the dead, Jesus takes our humanity and raises it up into the inner life of God, that which we call the Trinity and theme of our worship next Sunday. At Pentecost, God shares his life with us as the Holy Spirit of Jesus returns to the world to dwell in the hearts of all believers and helps us to make him known. The loving invitation of God goes out to all who will receive it, calling us into relationship with him.
That day in Jerusalem was a brilliant piece of public relations. The faithful from all over the Roman world were in the city for the festival. People of many nations and languages would hear Peter preach the first Christian sermon, thus lighting the match that would ignite the world so that it would never be the same again.
It also feels significant that, as the disciples prayed out loud in their native Aramaic tongue, people of other languages heard them address them in their own tongue. In Genesis 11,1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel is used to explain the presence of different languages. The human race was becoming more and more powerful and this would result in less and less reliance on God. The outcome would be disastrous, so it is as if languages were “invented” to force us to listen and cooperate with each other more carefully as well as with God. At Pentecost, God draws all to himself as the single language of his love unites all people in him. When Jesus describes himself as the True Vine, he is clear that, “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15,5). Without Jesus we rely on ourselves and our self-centred, self-promoting (i.e. sinful) judgement. Disaster indeed!
The Holy Spirit has a number of roles. Sometimes the Spirit challenges and convicts of sin. Sometimes the Spirit urges us to face reality. Yet the Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter, the source of that sense of hope in God that we all need. Now, above all times, is the time when we need to hear God’s words of comfort and hope. The road ahead will be long and difficult. We need the Holy Spirit to accompany us on that journey.
Of course, love is something that has to be shared if it is to truly flourished. God loves us. Christ died for us. The Holy Spirit strengthens us … so that we in our turn can strengthen others. We are called to love others, that is, care for and about them, serve them, give ourselves for them, as God has loved, cared for, served and given himself for us. If the Spirit gives us hope, it is so that we can pass on what we have enjoyed. In short, we are to be God’s agents of hope in a hurting world.
The other thing to remember about the Holy Spirit is that, as Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus, “blows where he wills.” (John 3,1-21). You cannot contain the Spirit any more than you can contain the wind… any more than you can contain love. As soon as you try to contain and coerce love it begins to wither and die.
In Numbers 11, God has commanded Moses to appoint 70 elders of Israel to stand before him at the Tent of Meeting. For some reason Eldad and Medad fail to show up. Yet when the Spirit rests on the 70, it is on the whole group, not just the 68! Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man is outraged. These people are not operating within the system! They must be stopped! Moses rightly sees God at work, and God in charge. It is not for him to tell God that he is not operating within the system!
Jesus remarked that we would know the validity of those who go in his name by their fruits (Matthew 7,20). We do have to test those who claim to speak or act in God’s name. You can usually do this by the law of love. Do they act in a way that is loving, that is, builds up, encourages, blesses, draws others into God’s love, and so on? Sometimes God uses people who operate “outside the system” or think and act, “outside the box,” to coin another phrase. Wherever true love is found, and in whatever form, is evidence of God at work. Often these are the people who challenge us to grow and change. In the Old Testament they were called the prophets.
On this day, the birthday of the Church, the disciples became apostles. They shifted from learners to teachers, from fear to bravery, from doubt to conviction. In short, they grew up. By their work the world changed for ever. The world to which Peter spoke, like ours, was a little short of hope. The words that Peter spoke gave his hearers the hope they needed, that, quite simply, God had not gone away, but was right there among them.
As inheritors of the same Holy Spirit, how are we to become agents of God’s hope? What can we do to show our communities that God has not gone away, but is right in our midst, chaos and all? The good people of Jerusalem just needed to know that they were loved and held. The good people of Taunton deserve no less. Robin Lodge
HYMN OF THE WEEK
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
The words of this wonderful hymn are attributed to Rhabanus Maurus (c. 776-c.856) Veni Creator Spiritus). Following his ministry as Abbot of Fulda in Germany he later became Archbishop of Mainz. It was paraphrased in English by Bishop John Cosin (1594-1672) who as Bishop of Durham.
The version printed below is widely sung in the Anglican Church on the feast of Pentecost as well as Ordinations and other celebrations of the Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our blinded sight.
Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far from foes, give peace at home:
where thou art guide, no ill can come.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but One,
that through the ages all along,
this may be our endless song:
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen
There is a version on YouTube which begins with a bell ringing then a group of monks singing the hymn in English to traditional Gregorian chant -
This is one of the most long-lasting and widely used choruses in Christian worship.
It is a song with straightforward petitions drawing us into a time of prayer.
THIS WEEK’S NOTICES
The June edition is now available, together with a separate picture supplement. This will be sent out by email and be on the website.
Songs of Praise
Thank you to all who have contributed their favourite hymns for
"Songs of Praise". A booklet of all the hymns chosen will be
prepared in due course. Ruth
Get creative with your knitting needles and crochet hooks so that we
can yarn bomb the railings around the Church Hall to show a visual presence of
St Andrew’s being there for the community.
Church Services by Telephone – free
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has launched a free national phone line as a simple new way to bring worship and prayer into people’s homes while church buildings are closed because of the coronavirus. Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
Listening Chaplaincy Phoneline
Representatives of the different faith communities within the Avon and Somerset police area have set up a dedicated phoneline offering 1-2-1 chaplaincy. This service is open to everyone – for people of all faiths and none in times of emergency.
telephone number is 0330
229 1700 and is open from 8am-11pm, 7 days a week.
The seasonal Daily Prayer leaflet for is on the parish website. See also…
You can hear the Prayer for the Day (Collect) read aloud on the Church of England website at
Prayers for use during the current crisis…