Sunday 23rd May 2021

Reading: Acts2:1-21

Reflection: Is Holly Holy?

Let me explain why I have called this reflection, ‘Is Holly Holy?’. In a previous charge one of the primary schools I used to visit wanted to sponsor a cow in a country where people had less than them. This they did and in promoting their adoption of the animal they got various materials together. Things like posters etc. and this allowed others to join in on the young people’s vision. One idea was to get t shirts printed with a picture of a cow and the name of the cow they had adopted. You may have gathered the name they chose was, ‘Holly’. When I went into the school one day the head teacher gave me a gift of one of the said t shirts. The staff though it quite appropriate to give this one to the school chaplain as it was just a wee bit inaccurate. Here is that t shirt and you can see the problem as it reads, ‘holy cow.’

There is a real challenge in Pentecost. Like us today, those who experienced this magnificent revelation, had seen much of what they took to be normal life had changed beyond recognition. Like us today, they may have been feeling afraid or uncertain after all the events they had faced in the not so distant past. We can imagine Jesus’ disciples reflecting on things that were happening before he died, how he tried to tell them what was going to happen and how in many ways they were deaf to it. Understandably they were afraid and didn’t know what to think when he told them they would be scattered, when he said that his ‘hour had come’, and then when it did happen…

Like us today, how they must have had a heavy heart in their loss. We all know that feeling of loss.

As individuals and as a group they struggled. Like us today,there will be the time when they/we will understand and then they/we will speak plainly about the Father and the kingdom. It must have seemed to some of them that everything was coming together. Jesus spoke of the Spirit, that would be with them, they would be witnesses to the ends of the earth. And then they still could not believe what they saw, him lifted up to the heavens. Of course they believed in who he is. How strange that the deepest pain that can be felt could turn into the deepest joy. This Spirit he speaks of sent by him how could they be afraid?

So they waited. And then it all began. The universal nature of Pentecost is evident in the different languages listed. It is evident in the different gifts listed in 1st Corinthians. Not all gifts given to all people but rather given to individuals by the one Spirit. Gifts given to various people at various times as is fitting for that person’s service to God. Something very different are the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians. The fruits of the Spirit should be evident in all Christians at all times. It could be argued that the fruit of the Spirit is more important than the gifts, it is certainly more universal.

The challenge of the Spirit of Pentecost is to make real the universal nature of what God is doing in Christ. A realisation that, just as the good things of the faith cannot be restricted to any one group of people, neither can the good things of this earth be denied to all.  They are not for some to enjoy at the expense of others. They are for all, as Christ is for all. Love has to be seen in action. The Spirit of Pentecost is free moving, disturbing barrier-breaking and challenging. The Spirit of Pentecost is an inspiring spirit that emanates from the very life and nature of God as lived by Jesus.  So we ask, ‘Is Holly Holy?’ surely all good things done in faith for the well-being of others, even if not done perfectly, as we too are not perfect, when blessed by the Holy Spirit of God becomes Holy.

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