Rev Jo’s Letter – May 2021

Change is in the air. Hairdressers and non-essential shops have re-opened, people are meeting in small groups, pubs are open as long as you sit outside and at last we are back to a nearly normal pattern of services in our churches. 

I’m about to change too, though you won’t notice much difference. When I came to the benefice in September 2019 it was as Interim Priest in Charge. On May 13th I shall become Priest in Charge. This licensing will take place by Zoom with just Bishop Donald and me in attendance, and my licence will doubtless arrive as an email attachment. 

This month we celebrate Pentecost, an event which brought a huge change to the early church and indeed to the world, as the Holy Spirit appeared to the Disciples. Pentecost was celebrated by the Jews on the 50th day after Passover and was their version of Harvest 

Festival. We read in Acts 2 how the Disciples were gathered together when suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

Pentecost celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s life, breath and energy at work in the world. It empowered the Apostles to become the Church and share the Gospel with the entire world. 

But what happened to them after this? Most met violent deaths for their faith: We know that Judas hanged himself after his betrayal of Jesus and that James the son of Zebedee was executed by Herod around 44 AD , but the stories of the remainder are not found in the Bible. 

Peter and Paul were probably martyred in Rome in 66AD, during the Christian persecution of Nero. Paul was Beheaded, Peter crucified. 

Andrew preached in Asia Minor and in Greece, where he too is said to have been crucified. Thomas was thought to be active in India, where the Marthoma Christians still revere him as their founder. Philip met his death in Asia Minor, Matthew and Bartholomew in Ethiopia, James the son of Alphaeus and Bartholomew in Syria, Simon Zelotes in Persia. Only John, the Beloved Disciple, died a natural death, on Patmos. 

How many of us would lay down our lives for the Gospel as they did? And how many of us would travel into the unknown to preach Christ Crucified? 

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, ignite in us your holy fire; strengthen your children with the gift of faith, revive your Church with the breath of love, and renew the face of the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

(The shorter Collect for Pentecost) 

With best wishes