Pentecost

It is Pentecost Sunday. Increasingly I find it hard to preach on this Sunday. How do you preach without falling between the twin stools of (a)sensationalist cliche in the language of Zion’ that bears no relation to Monday morning or (b) talking out/rationalising the mystery and strangeness and ending up with a moral lesson about God bringing understanding?

And I confess that I don’t think I have found a good way today in what I have prepared. Lets just see what happens….

So I will merely repeat the collect of the day from the Methodist Service book:-

‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Come, Holy Spirit,

and renew the face of the earth.’

 

Pentecost

We don’t really ‘do’ Pentecost in established/mainstream churches do we?

Christmas? Tick with bells on

Easter? ditto

Harvest? yes, but declining. Of course Jesus was often to be found at harvest services. Not.

Pentecost? well we have Pentecost Sunday and ….erm that’s it. To be honest, I’m not sure if we know what to do with it. It’s a bit embarrasing to our refined western sensibilities:- noise, disorder, worship so riotous that people think the participants are drunk and different languages….erm…excuse me- is that the time, I really must go and check the joint in the oven/the cricket score/my grandma/the paint drying…

Christmas– we have a baby, new people come to church and we can celebrate the true meaning ie buy lots of stuff and have a nice spiritual gloss put on it by worship. Easter– well if you are going to go more than once a year, this is your second call, plus it’s happy (try, please try and avoid the pain on Good Friday….we want to be happy) and you get a bank holiday. Harvest– well at least you can look at stuff like amusingly shaped fruit and flowers (not amusingly shaped) and you can give the tin of stuff at the back of your cupboard that you always meant to use, but is now 3 years out of date, to the poor….

But Pentecost….. well you can’t buy stuff, have a holiday or look at stuff……it’s all about being ‘sent’- much rather do the other 3 which seem to be about sitting, being warm….but sent- can’t we restrict that to ‘outreach’- ie the loonies and enthusiasts? After all we need to be built up first, constantly, all the time. Play with fire- you’ll get burnt.

I always think there is a delicious irony, too, in the formal way that Acts 2 is read. I think I would struggle to contain the giggles hearing it in a cathedral with all the pomp and splendour within. You know- a reading of wild danger, noise and disorder, read in a mannered safe English way. Guess we do that all the time with a dangerous book though; make it safe and containable, or if it seems wild, think ‘Oh that is for church; real life is different’

No, we don’t do Pentecost around these parts.