There was a time when I feared the approach of Pentecost. Now it’s a forgotten festival as people pack up for school holidays and the Bank Holiday weekend.
I used to fear it because I felt caught between the self-appointed experts on the Spirit who would expect my congregation to turn back the clock and become Jerusalem AD 33. On the other hand, the rest would be checking whether or not I had become too charismatic. So instead of being enflamed by the Passionate Grace of God, worship was swept by the freezing winds of tension and wariness.
Perhaps that is why people went on holiday. I was left struggling to release the truth of Pentecost to those who couldn’t get away at that time of the year.
Now I just feel sorry that such a wonderful opportunity for delight and celebration has lost the attention of so many in our congregations. It doesn’t need to be a Bank Holiday weekend for this to happen.
Pentecost, which should be the climax of the Christian year, is now an after-thought.
Pentecost should be the time when each church is asked: what fuels this church?
Since Advent the worship of the Church is rich diet of prayer and reflection on the meaning of God’s grace-filled mission coming to completion in the Kingship of Christ in glory. At Pentecost, Christian people are told
- You have heard the story
- You have explored the meaning
- You have been given the power
So what now?
‘Sorry, vicar, you won’t see us next weekend our children have asked us to look after the grandchildren. Good work, you will agree. Yes, we’ll remember it’s Whitsun, like we did Easter … when we went to Bournemouth for a few days’
Of course, there is another way of looking at it. The Church Year is an anachronism that relies too much on historical imagination. Every Sunday is a Church Year in one day; and each service a celebration of Christ the King and God’s call to anticipate the arrival of the new heaven and new earth.
Image: Monessen Ceramic Fiber Embers