I’m reporting to you from the frontline of Ordination training! Here at the coalface of academic studies, where a mountain of theological books threaten to tumble down and bury me forever and where the essay deadlines chase each other like white horses on the storm-tossed sea, is a both risky and hilarious place to be in your early fifties. Who would have thought that this would be where I find myself? Not me, that’s for sure. What an adventure! But this is what can happen, if you let yourself in deep enough with God. There could be upheaval. Things could change; sometimes in small increments, but sometimes in really large ways. Because the Holy Spirit loves change!
As we are now coming to Pentecost, we must try to take in just how much change the Spirit brought when she* came and fell on the apostles. ( *I say “she”, you may have been brought up to say “he”, but really of course, the Holy Spirit has no gender. Just saying…) As she settled on each one of them, they changed from ordinary men and women, confused and bewildered by their experiences of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, into bold and assured speakers and doers of God’s work. These were ordinary people; fishers and carpenters, housewives and former prostitutes. No one had been much to school, although some of them could probably read and write. And now in an instance they could speak foreign languages and so communicate God’s truth to all people, Israelites and foreigners alike.
The change that we need in our lives may not be a sudden ability to speak in foreign tongues. It may be a change of direction, or a renewed interest in the things of God: Charity, fellowship, prayer, reading God’s word, singing! We can read in the Acts of the Apostles that these are all things that the first Christians did in a really serious way as a response to the Holy Spirit. We could do worse than to try and emulate them.
As the rest of you are not studying theology, I know this may be “Greek” to you, but one thing that the Holy Spirit brought to the disciples was koinonia (κοινονια). This is a Greek word meaning “fellowship” , especially of the Christian kind. We cannot be Christians by ourselves, we must find a group of people to be in relationship with, if we are to flourish. It is often by meeting others that we start to change.
We are facing a lot of change ourselves here in the G7. What, with Sheila leaving and Mark being licensed as a Reader this summer, with Jack entering his third year of curacy and the Single Parish hopefully finally coming into being, albeit as a Benefice, so much is happening. As I myself am starting to see the point at which I am going to leave you too (next summer, to be precise), I would love to see koinonia grow amongst you. An Interregnum can be a time of intensified fellowship, with many people finding a renewed drive to get engaged in service in and for the church. It may feel like a period of uncertainty, but it could also be seen as an adventure! And whatever else happens, we will of course always be friends!
With every blessing,