Dear Church Family,
A very happy birthday to you! Tomorrow is the feast of Pentecost, probably the most important day in the church calendar after Easter and Christmas. Often referred to as the birthday of the church, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples as they gathered together, wondering what was going to happen to them.
The account in the book of Acts, Chapter 2 describes the Holy Spirit sounding like “a rush of violent wind” and then appearing above the disciple’s heads as “tongues of fire”. Once filled with the Spirit, they began speaking in different languages “as the Spirit gave them ability.” From their Upper Room meeting place, where they had been hiding away, they then head outside to preach the Gospel to the gathered crowds celebrating Shavuot (The Festival of Weeks), which itself was a gathering to celebrate the people of Israel receiving the Torah (Law) from God at Mount Sinai. Much like God appearing to Moses and then to the people of Israel, Pentecost celebrates the presence of God moving from a small group of followers to a much wider group as the Christian faith begins to spread from “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth” as Jesus had indicated in Acts 1:8.
There is more going on in the story than callbacks to Old Testament theophanies; we are seeing the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit that was present in creation, hovering over the waters. It’s the same Spirit that carries the unborn Christ to Mary’s womb that will now overshadow the church, giving heavenly abilities to those who receive it and uniting the followers of Christ as the very dwelling place of God on earth. Pentecost reminds us that as Christians, we are the new Temple of God. In 1 Peter 2:5 we read, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
When we are baptised, the Holy Spirit sets up home in us. The Temple in Jerusalem is no longer required – the curtain, torn on Good Friday as Jesus died, removes the barrier that separates humanity from the Holy of Holies (the presence of God). Now we are the temple – a body of living stones built into the house of God. A great reminder at this time that the church is most certainly not the building, it is the people.
I realise that the separation from our church buildings is no less painful, but I would seek to encourage you this Pentecost as we remember the birth of the church, that we are not bound by walls because we carry the presence of God inside us. God is with you, wherever you go, and He gives you gifts to use for His glory.
During our Pentecost service tomorrow, there will be an opportunity to light a candle as we are sent out into the world. If you are able to watch the service on our Facebook page then do remember to have a candle to hand. If you are not able to watch the service online then please do light a candle tomorrow as a way of remembering the sending of the Holy Spirit. You could read Acts 2:1-13 before lighting your candle and saying these words:
Blessed are you, sovereign God, overflowing in love.
With Pentecost dawns the age of the Spirit.
Now the flame of heaven rests on every believer.
Strong and weak, women and men tell out your word;
the young receive visions, the old receive dreams.
With the new wine of the Spirit
they proclaim your reign of love.
Amid the birth pangs of the new creation
the way of light is made known.
Source of freedom, giver of life,
blessed are you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Please do remain vigilant in protecting yourself from Covid-19 but do enjoy some of the new freedoms we have been granted. A coffee in the back garden with a friend, with social distancing, of course, could be a lovely way to bless someone who has been shut off from the world for too long.
Please do download the 2nd edition of the Hutton Parish Link on Monday morning. It’s an excellent publication and my thanks go to Malcolm and Neil for all their hard work in editing and production.
Go to huttonparish.com/magazine for your online copy.
Food Distribution and Support
You can collect food for yourself, or others, every Monday-Saturday from 10.15am – 12 noon (9.45am for Key Workers) at the main entrance to St Peter’s. We also deliver to those who cannot leave the house – just ring the Parish Office to arrange this. The food is given free of charge, but we do accept cash or contactless card donations on the door.
The Pentecost service book can be downloaded here:
And the Pewsheet is here:
As ever, please get in touch if there is anything I can help you with – prayer requests, food deliveries or simply just a chat on the phone. Please sign up to the parish blog for weekly email updates. Go to www.huttonparish.com/blog to do this. The parish Facebook page can be accessed here: www.facebook.com/huttonparish for all our online services.
With every blessing,