I hope you managed to read last months blog, if so you would have read my letter entitled Pentecost. The astute reader will notice this letter is entitled Pentecost 2. In essence that’s two letters dedicated to Pentecost for which I make no excuses. You see Pentecost is such an important event that its worth spending a bit more time looking at it and pondering on what it means for you and me today. This event was quite literally world changing, it was the birth of the church as we know it. When God gave us the gift of his indwelling, empowering presence to transform our lives, and my prayer for us as a church, is that we will be increasingly more open to the work of God through the Holy Spirit in our lives and that we will be open to a real encounter with His spirit through our worship and prayer life.
As I sit to write this letter, we have just woken to the dreadful news of the terrorist attack in Manchester. Social media is filled with people’s reaction to this terrible news and I was asked to spend some time this morning at the local secondary school to support pupils who may have been affected by the news. The big question is why? Why do these things happen? Followed quickly be another question that comes from the heart, what can we do about it?
Our hearts ache when we see these desperate and appalling images and its far too easy to blame God and I’ve lost count of the times people have asked ‘If God is love, how can he allow such things to happen?’ There are no answers I can give, simply to say, God in his love allowed Jesus to suffer beyond our imagining and God in his grace gave us the gift of freewill. A freedom to choose who we will follow and how we will act. It is love that means He doesn’t step in, it is love that kept His son hanging on the cross. It is God’s loving heart that will also be broken by the news today. So were left with the question, what can we do about it? Again, I don’t have the answers, but my thought process continually brings me back to Pentecost.
We would agree, that this world, is the most beautiful gift that God has entrusted to us, yet through our own free choice as humans we create such a mess. Our sinful nature will ensure that evil will continue – wherever there is mankind, there will be mess!
But Jesus came to bring in a new Kingdom, a new hope, that stretches beyond this mortal world. He gave the gift of his Spirit to help us, to strengthen us, to guide us and to sustain us. It’s only through the Holy Spirit living in our lives, that we are able to live for God. That we are changed by His presence in us, so that we might reach out with his love to those who need it. And oh how the world needs to hear the message of Gods love today!
So how do we respond? As Romans 12 reminds us we are not to repay evil with evil, instead, verse 21 says ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit in us, let us do all we can to make for peace in this world, let our hands be the hands of Jesus that bring his love into every situation, let our inward cry be to pray for God’s comfort to rest with all affected and ultimately that through God’s Holy Spirit working through God’s holy people that those whose hearts are cold and distant from God may be touched by Him and changed by his love. That through our actions, signs of God’s new kingdom will break through here on earth.
I close with a message from Rt. Rev David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, ‘Remember, Love wins’.