Free Church Chaplain, Revd Mark Rowland, reflects on the events of Pentecost and its meaning to us today.
Sunday May 23rd is Pentecost when many Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. It is the story of a new beginning and a transformation of Jesus’ disciples to become those people who would be the pioneers of the church. The Biblical story tells us of a great crowd of people gathered from many different nations. Each one hears in their own language as the apostles tell them the good news about Jesus. God speaks so people can understand… people from all sorts of places and all kinds and conditions of life… we can all be part of something that is greater than we can imagine. This is a story than can be about everyone
On Monday 24th, the Methodist Church which I’m part of, celebrates Wesley Day. John Wesley, was our founder and it remembers a day in 1738 where he was pretty down and feeling himself a failure. He goes unwillingly to a meeting where someone reads from Martin Luther’s preface to the book of Romans in the Bible… and as it’s being read feels his heart ‘strangely warmed’ and an assurance of God’s love. This experience gives him an impetus that he carries through the rest of his ministry. It represents a new start for him; he is not a failure and while his struggles don’t vanish overnight he feels the strength to carry on.
Why do we keep telling these old stories? I think that the stories we tell shape us and the communities we seek to make. They help us to hold a vision of the world as we hope for it to be – even when the reality we’re living through might be a long way away from that. For me one of the things about being a person of faith is to hold on to these stories, to tell them and to re-tell them, and to interpret them for today to seek challenge and hope.
What are the stories you hold on to? What are the stories you would want to tell and retell? What kind of world do they point to? I long for a world where we celebrate the value of everyone, where no one is written off as a failure and where we can always make a new start. Telling these stories is a small way I try to work towards that.