The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee seems to have been a long time in coming. We started to discuss special services months ago and were assured that the Church of England would be issuing material, but I have to say that what it finally produced was decidedly uninspiring for such a momentous occasion. Nevertheless we have all put services together using the C of E material and our own ingenuity and I hope you will feel we have a done a good job if you are minded to come along and celebrate 70 years of impeccable regal poise and immensely hard work. Our Queen is surely an example to all world leaders, elected or otherwise.
It’s rather a shame that the Jubilee weekend is also Pentecost,—the day on which we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide and inspire us. It has some very good hymns and I shall miss them: Hail thee festival day, Come down O love divine, and so on.
But even if we miss celebrating the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Sprit is still with us. It infused the small community of Jesus-followers with the core mission that would define the Christian church ever after: to share the message of Jesus Christ with the entire world.
In the weeks following Christ’s death and resurrection, many of his followers were trying to make sense of the incredible events they had witnessed, and were probably wondering what God wanted them to do now that Jesus had carried out his mission. At Pentecost, God made this clear—they were to share the news of the Resurrection with others, not just with the Jewish communities in which they lived; the multi-lingual nature of this miracle made it plain that the Gospel message was not confined to one community, nation, ethnicity, or language. Pentecost is when the Christian church was empowered to evangelise.
The mission given to Christians at Pentecost still stands, thousands of years later. We are to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the world—and as we do so, we can rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit. An American preacher, William Sloane Coffin, wrote this: Christians have no business thinking that the good life consists mainly in not doing bad things. We have no business thinking that to do evil in this world you have to be a Bengal tiger, when, in fact, it is enough to be a tame tabby—a nice person but not a good one. In short, Pentecost makes it clear that nothing is so fatal to Christianity as indifference.
Evangelism may not be what we feel comfortable doing, but when the Spirit is with us we can do anything.