Vicar’s Blog

To Love and To Forgive

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

Being human, we all need a little bit of escapism.

Perhaps you play bridge or bowls; you may sing in a choir or be a member of a drama group. For those who prefer more solitary pastimes fishing and bird-watching spring to mind; if you are of a more energetic disposition a run or a regular swim might well feature in your leisure time.

Personally, I love a murder/mystery story! Whether it’s watching a DVD with Joan Hickson magnificently portraying Miss Marple in an Agatha Christie ‘whodunnit’ or reading the rather darker writings of the Swedish author Henning Mankell and the exploits of his detective, Inspector Wallander, I can quite easily step out of the real world and its pressures for an hour or so and immerse myself in the story of a skilled crime writer.

Quite by chance, whilst on holiday in Scotland last month, I bought a book entitled ‘The Last Pope’ by the Portugese writer Luis Miguel Rocha. It centres on the mysterious, sudden and untimely death of Pope John Paul I in September 1978.

It is pure escapism – but a few words attributed to the saintly John Paul I struck me forcefully and have remained with me to the extent that I wanted to share them with you.

When his (fictional?) assassin enters his room the Pope asks: ‘Do you know man’s most important qualities?’ and the assassin suggests ‘Dignity and honour.’

‘Dignity and honour are incidental’ replies John Paul I. ‘The most important qualities must be to love and to forgive.’

To love and to forgive.

Here, surely, we have the absolute kernel of what we should be striving for as individual Christians and as a Christian community.

It is often quite a challenge to love and to forgive – especially when it involves people we find it difficult to be alongside or work with – but it is what we are called to do: sometimes once, sometimes more than once.

As we continue our journey through Lent – hopefully trying in a number of different ways to grow in grace and holiness – perhaps we should all take the opportunity to dwell on those words and see where we may have to make amends or ‘up our game’ as followers of the one who loved us so much that he sent his only Son to die for our sins.

If all of us did, we may not change the whole world – but we could make a significant start on that little bit of it where the good God has placed us at present …

‘Forgive our sins as we forgive’ you taught us, Lord, to pray;
but you alone can grant us grace to live the words we say.

How can your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart
that broods on wrongs, and will not let old bitterness depart?

In blazing light your Cross reveals the truth we dimly knew,
how small the debts men owe to us, how great our debt to you.

Lord, cleanse the depths within our souls, and bid resentment cease;
then, reconciled to God and man, our lives will spread your peace.

(R. E. Herklots 1905—87)

With every blessing,

Paul.

The Support of God

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

Whilst on a recent course at Church House all the participants were all asked to write down a particularly happy moment that we could recall from our childhood.

My choice was the day I learned to ride my bicycle.

It didn’t come easily. After the stability of a “three-wheeler”, I just couldn’t seem to get my balance. For many Sunday afternoons my Dad ran alongside me with his hand on the seat to steady me but, as soon as I looked behind and saw he had let go, off I would come!

Then, a few weeks later, on another Sunday afternoon, my sister said to me: “If you’d been able to ride your bicycle you could have taken this book to my friend’s house.”

Out came the bike and off I went – albeit in a rather unsteady manner! Was it because of the “challenge” – or was it because I was six months older and had grown a little nearer the pedals? Whatever the reason, I was now more confident and (at least in that department) no longer needed the steadying, reassuring hand of my Father.

But, truth to tell, we all need a little support sometimes.  Someone to hold on to us when the going gets tough, when we’re unsure of our ground, when our confidence fails and we feel ourselves slipping.

And the message from the Bible is that we have such a one in God.

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’  I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you.”
 (Isaiah 41: 13 & 42: 6)

Across the ages God has reiterated this promise to support us along the journey of life; to stay close by our side so that, in times of crisis, we can rely upon him to keep us safe.

There were moments when I felt I’d never ride my new bicycle.  We all have moments like that.  But, just as my Dad’s steadying hand helped me gain the confidence I needed to stay on two wheels, so the knowledge of God’s constant presence can give us the confidence we need, when we need it.

And so we thank God for his constant guidance throughout our lives: for the reassurance that he is always there to encourage, strengthen and support us.

Just think for a few moments of the times you have found this to be true.  Strength in times of weakness, encouragement in times of fear, support in times of difficulty, faith in times of doubt: all supportive gifts from the One who made us and loves us.

As one modern hymn-writer has put it:

My God loves me, His love will never end.
He rests within my heart for my God loves me.
His gentle hand he stretches over me.
Though storm-clouds threaten the day he will set me free.
My God loves me, his faithful love endures.
And I will live like a child held in love secure.
 (Sandra J. Billington)

With every blessing,

Paul.

 

Patience

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

“Patience is a virtue –possess it if you can.
It’s seldom found in women – and never in a man!”

So goes a well-known rhyme. But patience is one of the requirements of the Christian – and not least during the season of Advent, the four weeks which lead us into our celebrations of Christmas.

”Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him” says the psalmist (Psalm 37:7) and so we must try to master the art of patient waiting.

This is an entirely different form of waiting from the anxiety which comes with waiting to hear if a loved one who is travelling on a long journey has reached their destination or the worry of waiting for examination results. It is quite different too from the frustration of waiting for a delayed train to arrive or even waiting for a coat of paint to dry in order that the next one may be applied.

Waiting patiently before the Lord with a quiet excitement and expectancy brings its own special rewards – and no more so than in the days of Advent which are pregnant with anticipation.

In church, the hymns, the prayers and the readings of Advent – especially the rich and stirring prophecies of Isaiah – help us to prepare in our hearts for the most wonderful gift of all: the gift of God’s great love when he sent his own Son to earth in the form of a fragile human being.

So if, over the coming days, your patience is tried to its limits, remember that it can be restored to fullness by waiting with a different sort of patience – the patience of watching in prayer with which we may prepare ourselves to sing with renewed vigour at Christmas:

“Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth.”

A few years ago Bishop Stephen Cottrell wrote a little Advent book entitled “Do nothing …Christmas is coming”. Doing nothing in the run up to the festival may be asking a little too much – but finding a few minutes each day to wait patiently, joyfully and expectantly for the coming of Jesus into our hearts and lives at Christmas will reap real rewards for us as individuals and as a community of believers.

With every blessing for an Advent of prayerful anticipation and a Christmas filled with the peace and goodwill that can only come from waiting patiently before the Lord.

Paul.

Christmas Services 2014

Click here to view Christmas services and events for 2015

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Light up a Life

HospiceCare North Northumberland logo

Tuesday, 9th December 6:30pm
Castleside House, Narrowgate

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Mothers’ Union Advent Eucharist

Mothers' Union logo

Wednesday, 10th December 10:15am at St Michael’s Church

The ladies of St Michael’s, Alnwick Mother’s Union invite you all – women and men -and in particular all the women’s groups in our town and churches to their annual Advent Eucharist.

Speaker: The Rev’d Julia Myles

As we meet to reflect on the past year and look towards the year ahead, join us to give thanks, to pray for our world and to share a cuppa and Mince Pie!

Bring a photo, an item or a description of something you are thankful for this year.

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Alnwick Christmas Market

"Alnwick marketplace - snow - night" by Andy Armstrong - http://www.flickr.com/photos/andyarmstrong/89441086/sizes/o/. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alnwick_marketplace_-_snow_-_night.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Alnwick_marketplace_-_snow_-_night.jpg

“Alnwick marketplace – snow – night” by Andy Armstrong – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Saturday, 6th December at 12.15pm
Christians Together in Alnwick will be singing carols in the marketplace.

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Carols at Denwick

A Christmas wreath, with text saying "Christmas Carols"

Sunday, 14th December, 4pm at Denwick Chapel

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 St Michael’s C of E First School Candle-Lit Carols

St Michael's First School LogoWednesday, 17th December at 3.30pm in church

Mayor’s Carol Service

Image of musical notes made from Christmas decorations

Wednesday, 17th December at 7pm in church

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Mini Michaels Christmas Party

The words 'Christmas Party'

18th December 9.15am in the Parish Hall

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Candlelight Carol Service

A Christmas tree made from musical notes

Sunday, 21st December at 6pm in church

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Christmas Eve

Christingle and Crib Service

Representation of the nativity scene

Wednesday, 24th December at 4.30pm in church

Midnight Mass

A blue background with a white Christmas tree and the words "Midnight Mass at St Michaels"

Wednesday, 24th December at 11.30pm in church

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Christmas Day Services

The words 'Merry Christmas'

8am Holy Communion
9.30am Parish Christmas Eucharist

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St Stephen’s Day

"Koelner Dom - Bayernfenster 02" by Raimond Spekking - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koelner_Dom_-_Bayernfenster_02.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Koelner_Dom_-_Bayernfenster_02.jpg

“Koelner Dom – Bayernfenster 02” by Raimond Spekking – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 26th December
10am Holy Communion in church

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St John’s Day

"Melesse (35) Église Vitrail 15" by GO69 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Melesse_(35)_%C3%89glise_Vitrail_15.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Melesse_(35)_%C3%89glise_Vitrail_15.JPG

“Melesse (35) Église Vitrail 15” by GO69 – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, 27th December
10am Holy Communion in church

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Holy Innocents

Woodcut depicting the slaughter of the innocents

Sunday, 28th December
8am and 9.30am Holy Communion
11.15am Late Morning Worship
6pm Evensong

Christmas Afternoon Tea

Clipart of a teapot, cup and piece of cake

28th December 4pm in the Parish Hall

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Epiphany

Representation of the gifts of the magi

Sunday, 4th January
8am Holy Communion
9.30am First Sunday Eucharist
6pm Evensong

Giving Thanks

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear people of Alnwick,

I felt I must use this space to say a massive ‘thank you’ on behalf of Jane and myself following our wedding in St. Nicholas’ Cathedral on 6th September.

It was an incredible feeling (and very humbling) to be supported by so many people – apparently in excess of 600 – and even more incredible to realise that either Jane or I (or both of us) knew everyone who was there!

We felt massively privileged that, in one of his final public appearances before his retirement, our beloved Bishop Martin (who had ordained both of us as Deacon and Priest) conducted the wedding ceremony and presided at the Eucharist. And it was lovely to be able to greet so many of you as refreshments were being served in the cathedral after the service.

And, as if that was not sufficient, we’re only just recovering from the magnificent ‘Wedding Afternoon Tea’ in a packed Parish Hall which welcomed us back home! To say that the tea was ‘sumptuous’ is an understatement and the generosity of your gift was quite simply overwhelming. So, thank you all for such a huge measure of love and support.

On both occasions the love and support was so tangible that we felt as if we could reach out and touch it.

Two thoughts strike me.

Firstly, as Julia wrote in last month’s ‘Gateway’ it was about the amazing and unconditional generosity and grace of God that Bishop Martin chose to speak in his final address to the Diocese. The human love about which I have just written – however wonderful – is but a mere shadow of the love of God which waits to permeate our very being and our world – if only we will allow it.

Secondly, any ‘great’ thing is simply the collection of many small – even, at times, seemingly insignificant – things.

The vast congregation in the cathedral on 6th September was, of course, a collection of individuals. The beautiful display of food at the afternoon tea in the Parish Hall was made up of many individual contributions. And so, too, the tangible evidence of God’s love in our world today – that amazing and unconditional generosity and grace – is the product of countless individual acts of loving, giving, sacrificing and sharing; of supporting, encouraging and gentle witnessing. All combine to produce an effect far greater than the sum of the individual acts themselves and, in so doing, is an incredible force for good.

So, as Bishop Martin’s loving care of this diocese draws to a close and as Jane and I begin our married life together, we give thanks for the little things in life: individual acts of caring, of concern, of Christian love which, in combination, have made – and will continue to make – our world a better place; a place that reflects God’ unconditional generosity and grace.

With every blessing,
Paul.

Farewell to Bishop Martin

From the Curate

The Vicar has been a little pre-occupied last month…with his honeymoon! The Curate has sneaked into his slot to tell you about the Service of Thanksgiving for the Gracious Love of God with Farewell to Bishop Martin, on Sunday 21st September 2014.

The service opened with one of Bishop Martin’s (and our Vicar’s) favourite hymns, ‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy’, sung by a packed Cathedral. We also sang one of my favourites, ‘O Thou who camest from above’. The choir anthems sounded truly heavenly and I am pretty sure I heard a bit of Rutter that I last heard only two weeks ago in the Cathedral at the Vicar’s wedding. It was a joy to see Mr and Mrs Scott in attendance at their first diocesan event as a married couple! These things alone would have made it special for me but, as Bishop Martin has been my only Bishop, he sponsored my training and I was in the last cohort to be priested by him, it was a very moving occasion for me personally.

The esteem in which both Bishop Martin and Marlene are held became clear when gifts and speeches were given from various parts of the Diocese. They included a book of memories, a Newcastle United signed and framed shirt, a miner’s lamp from Ellington, which the Bishop had requested himself and a letter from Bishop Methle of Botswana. Following his ‘Thank You’, in which he paid tribute to the clergy of this Diocese, our Lord Bishop of 17 years (the 11th and longest serving Bishop of Newcastle) received a standing ovation, just as he had at the clergy conference earlier in the year. I saw the tears of many which were also a tribute to this Christ-like man who lived out, (and probably invented) the Diocese’s strap-line of being ‘generous, engaged and open’. As he gave a final blessing from the High Altar, I thought how well the words reflected himself.

“Go forth into the world in peace.
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good:
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak;
help the afflicted; honour everyone;
love and serve the Lord…”

The Bishop was noticeably moved at times, and none more so than when he spoke about the ‘amazing, unconditional generosity and grace of God’ which precedes and leads us to repentance. ‘The church is a school for sinners not a museum for saints’, he announced in his farewell sermon. He described how he was brought up, as many of us were, to expect to have to earn God’s acceptance. ‘We turn it upside-down because it makes no worldly sense… We are prepared for a God who drives a hard bargain, not one who gives a day’s wages for an hour’s work.’ He spoke of the danger of a Christianity that defines itself by a set of rules to keep people out. Like the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son, God’s arms ‘…are always outstretched, waiting for us to come home’. It is not that God doesn’t care about wrong-doing, but he knows that only his love can change it. ‘God’s love enables us to be transformed…Our motivation for discipleship is not fear but love’. God’s grace and ‘sheer generosity’ means that ‘we have no choice but to respond in kind’. This means therefore that ‘no-one in our parishes can be beyond our concern’. Reminding us that the Good News must be good news and not simply good advice, he encouraged us to ‘proclaim that Good News magnificently for God’. He closed with the words of Archbishop Anthony Bloom, ‘Go now, on all ways and on all roads, …go with joy… because God is joy, he is life, he is intensity.’

I know that Paul, our Vicar, holds Bishop Martin in the highest esteem and it will be a difficult task for him and the rest of the Vacancy in See Committee to find his successor. It will probably be 2016 before that is announced and so we are especially grateful for Assistant Bishop Frank. We pray for him and our Archdeacons as they oversee and guide our diocese in the meantime.

As for me, I am glad that my family and I are now full-time residents of this lovely town and I look forward to bumping into you on the streets… Though hopefully not literally as I am still learning to ride my bike around town!

Julia Myles

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From left: the Bishop of Newcastle, Martin Wharton; Mrs Marlene Wharton; the Rev’d Jane Wood & the Rev’d Paul Scott

Prince of Peace

Dear People of Alnwick,

On Wednesday 20th August about thirty members of our congregation gathered in St. Paul’s Chapel to pray for peace in Israel and Gaza. This small venture was planned at very short notice and I had at least fifteen apologies from others who would have been there but for other commitments.

In the days that followed I had many comments about how people had valued the opportunity to do something positive and how powerful and meaningful that simple act of worship had proved to be.

At the same time, an appeal was made in church over two Sundays to make a financial contribution to the terrible situation there and in excess of £320.00 was collected – with £150.00 of that sum Gift Aided.

This prayer and financial support was all concentrated on the part of the world where Our Lord walked as the Prince of Peace. How his heart must ache as he sees this continued barbarity and unrest!

He must look down with despair, too, on Iraq, Syria, Southern Sudan, Nigeria, Afganistan and so many other places where innocent people find themselves caught up in situations which are none of their making, and at the mercy of people who have no respect for human life or dignity if it gets in the way of their cause.

Our efforts here in Alnwick may seem insignificant – but they are not. Indeed, if more people turned to God in earnest prayer and gave financial support in the way that we have done in St. Michael’s, there is no telling how effective that message might be.

During that service of prayer for peace, the following words of the South African theologian, the Rev’d Allan Boesak were used:

It is not true that this world and its inhabitants are doomed to die and be lost.

This is true: for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him shall not die but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction.

This is true: I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred shall have the last word, and that war and destruction have come to stay forever;

This is true: for to us a child is born, to us a son is given in whom authority will rest and whose name will be Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil that rule the world;

This is true: to me is given all authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you always to the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the church, before we can do anything;

This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all people, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, and your old folk shall dream dreams.

It is not true that our dreams for the liberation of humankind, our dreams of justice, of human dignity, of peace, are not meant for this earth and this history;

This is true: the hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and truth.

Can I suggest that we all consider these inspirational words calmly and carefully as such awful unrest continues and use them as a basis for our ongoing prayer for peace throughout the world.

With every blessing,

Paul.

Commitment

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I have just officiated at the first wedding of the year at St. Michael’s.

For some unknown reason, all the weddings in 2014 are taking place in the second half of the year and so a series of meetings has taken place over recent months with the various couples who are preparing for their big event. (And, of course, what has been said in those meetings has had increased significance for me as my own wedding draws ever closer!)

As I take the couples through the wedding service and try to explain to them the symbolism and teaching which lies behind the words and actions, we come across that old fashioned concept of commitment.

Commitment doesn’t come much more seriously than when two people pledge themselves to each other exclusively for the rest of their lives in a relationship which we hope and pray will be not only lifelong but also life-giving.

Another concept which we tend to spend some time exploring in these meetings is that of the relationship growing, maturing and changing as the years go by.

Thinking on these things has helped me in recent weeks to see how we can also apply them to Christ’s relationship with each one of us – and ours with him.

“God so loved the world that he sent his Son …”

Yes, he sent his Son to the world – but the world is made up of countless individuals. Each of us has – or can have – a unique relationship with Jesus as strong and as meaningful as our earthly relationships. But that relationship, too, if it is to be truly life-giving, requires complete commitment.

It can also grow, mature and change in the same manner as that of an earthly relationship – if we allow it to do so.

My own parents had been married 59 years when my father died – and they still held hands as they walked along together. The nature of their relationship had, undoubtedly, changed over the years but, in its maturing, there was ‘quality’ which I cannot put into words.

So, as each bride and groom stand before me in the coming months (and on my own wedding day) I will remind myself of the need to be completely committed and constantly to work for growth and maturity not only in earthly relationships but also in my relationship with Christ.

Perhaps, as you walk into St. Michael’s on a Sunday morning, and see confetti lying near the doorway, you might like to offer a prayer for the adventure upon which all newly married couples embark and also consider how committed and mature your own relationship is with the One whose commitment to you (and all of us) is the perfect example of unconditional love.

With every blessing,
Paul.

Sacred Space

St. Michael’s Vicarage, Alnwick

Dear Friends,

A few years ago, when the parish of Holy Island was without a Vicar, my former Training Incumbent, Canon Syd Connolly, lived in the Vicarage there for three separate months, helping with the work of the parish and the ministry to visitors in that place until a new parish priest was appointed.

Whilst Syd and his wife, Pat, were living there I twice spent a day off with them: once in February and once in June.

Of course the context was very different on each occasion. In February, complete with hats, scarves and gloves, we enjoyed a brisk walk up to the castle in the biting wind followed by the luxury of sitting around a log fire contemplating the peace and tranquillity of an almost deserted island. In June the whole day was spent outside: on a longer walk (a hat was again needed, but this time to give protection from the sun) in the company of many hundreds of visitors and then sitting in the Vicarage garden listening to the seals singing.

Flow very fortunate we are to live so close to this sacred place – “the Cradle of Christianity” – where the Northern Saints prayed and worshipped and from where they set out to bring the love of Christ to our forebears.

At the present moment, I am still basking in the wonder of my recent trip to Assisi – another centre of prayer and devotion and which, just like the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, literally brings people to their knees as they are caught up in the sheer holiness of the place before returning to their homes energised by the experience of the pilgrimage.

Now I doubt whether St. Michael’s, Alnwick will ever become a centre of pilgrimage for the countless thousands who visit Holy Island and Assisi and other famous sites of devotion – and yet there is no doubt that it is a “sacred space”, and our many visitors often comment on the atmosphere of prayer and devotion they feel.

Technically, of course, the space was made sacred on some unknown date far back in the mists of time when the bishop of the day no doubt came to consecrate the building; but it is the prayers, the devotion and the celebration of the Sacraments by faithful worshippers in the intervening years (and that includes us now in our generation) that have been absorbed into the very fabric of the place.

As those of us who regularly worship at St. Michael’s receive grace and courage from Christ to live out our lives of faith in the world, so too, we can encourage each other – and those who are yet to come – by our constancy and our commitment as we join our prayers to those of our forebears.

Lord for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
Sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided,
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

Lord for ourselves, in living pow’r remake us –
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
Past put behind us, for the future take us,
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.
(Timothy Dudley-Smith)

With every blessing,

 Paul.

Pentecost

Dear People of Alnwick,

Some friends of mine recently had afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel in London.  I suppose it’s just possible that I might have that experience one day – but it seems unlikely.  Let’s face it, some things in life are reserved for a select few, whilst the majority of us have to make do with less spectacular existences.

The people of the Old Testament believed that this was also true with regard to the Spirit of God.  They were convinced that it was a rare and special gift which only a privileged few would experience.

It seemed impossible that ‘ordinary folk’ could be filled with the Spirit.  Surely, they thought, such a gift was reserved for people like Samuel, Ezekiel or Isaiah – people of ‘Stature’.  They believed that, for the rank and file, God would always be one step removed – with access to him coming through priest and temple.  But let us just remind ourselves of one of the Pentecost readings from the Acts of the Apostles:

When the day of Pentecost dawned, they were gathered in one place.  Suddenly, a sound like the rush of a mighty wind came from heaven, filling the house where they were sitting.  After that, tongues of fire appeared that divided, so that a tongue rested on each of them.  The were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in various tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.  This is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God declares, I will pour out my spirit on all people; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.  I will pour out my spirit even on male and female slaves in those days.’  (Acts 2: 1-4 & 16-18)

These words of Joel must have caused quite a stir when they were first heard because they suggested a completely new relationship between God and his people.

It is that type of relationship which is experienced by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost – and it is offered to each and every one of us in turn.  God is not remote and detached: he can be experienced as a living reality in our lives.  A reality which encourages, teaches, empowers and guides – ever at work within us.  The presence of God’s Holy Spirit within us is a priceless treasure – and he offers it to all, irrespective of our status in life!

As the feast of Pentecost draws near (8th June) it would do us all good to ask ourselves just how close we feel to God.  Are there times when he seems distant, removed from daily life?  And, if there are such times, have we done all we can to open our lives and let his Spirit in?  Remember, “I will pour out my spirit on all people”.

If we are prepared to open ourselves fully to the Holy Spirit we must expect surprises and be prepared to go with them for not only will we find our innermost needs met, we will find ourselves better equipped to serve God more fully and, perhaps, in ways that we had never dreamed of.

God’s Holy Spirit is yearning to work in all our lives; and through it we will find a deepening of faith, a strengthening of commitment and an enlarging vision of what we can do together as his people in this place.

O for a closer walk with God.
A calm and heavenly frame;
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the Lamb!

With every blessing at Pentecost and always,

Paul.

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