Greetings from the Rector.
“Conversations at the Crossroads”. This has been the title for the Nine Days of Prayer as we have journeyed together between Ascension Day and Pentecost. Based on Jesus’ final command to his disciples before he ascended into heaven – “Jesus ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1: 4) – we have gathered together each day in the different churches around the benefice and listened and worshipped and prayed. We started on Friday evening in Little Chart Church with worship followed by an opportunity to visit various prayer stations: a quiet space to reflect on the bible reading, a space for reflection and prayer on the refugee crisis, a large sheet of paper on which to write our prayers, a creative corner in which to weave, sew, knit and pray, a chance to light a floating candle or release pebbles into water as we prayed. There was a sense of expectation as we prayed “Come Holy Spirit: meet us at our crossroads”. On Monday evening, we gathered quietly in the early evening in Pluckley Church for a service of Compline and at midday in Charing Heath on Thursday and for Morning Prayer in Egerton on Friday. At other times, we used the weekly services to reflect on the Novena theme and pray “Come Holy Spirit and meet us at the crossroads. We found without fail that when we prayed ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, He came. Why should we be surprised? Using the beautiful pictures in the booklets and the text that accompanied them, insights tumbled out into our conversations. By the end of the nine days of prayer, we were all aware that God, through the Holy Spirit, had met us at our crossroads and was gently guiding us to towards the way forward.
And then … Pentecost. Jesus had told them “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” And they did, and the Christian community that could have been snuffed out by the opposing forces of state and other religions after the crucifixion of Jesus, was re-ignited. They were filled with a new desire and new courage to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. They delighted in meeting together for their worship was vibrant, hopeful and alive. They met together in each other’s houses to eat, to talk, to pray and such was their love for one another they shared all their possessions and looked to the needs of the poor and disposed. And every day, their numbers grew.
It is not difficult to see ourselves in the pre-Pentecost situation of these disciples. Jesus had gone from them. They were bereft, confused and directionless. Looking around us we see a world that has in some ways lost its direction and, more to the point, no longer recognises its need for God. The voice of the Church of England which, at one time in our not so distant history, was invited to speak out strongly in debates on world and state concerns has now been subdued to little more than a whisper. Day by day we hear reports of the persecution of Christians at the hands of IS and thousands upon thousands of people are being displaced from countries where religious oppression is threatening their existence.
Here we are, not just at one crossroads, but at a multi-junction intersection and if we are to find the courage and the strength to move forward on the right road we must pray daily “Come, Holy Spirit. Meet us at our crossroads”.
Greetings from the Rector.