‘Stepping Up’ – 5th June 2022 – The Day of Pentecost Eucharist and The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

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22 06 05 The Day of Pentecost Eucharist

The Readings

Acts 2.1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

John 14.8-17, 25-27

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

The Sermon
By Katherine Boyd

Well here we are, finally at Pentecost. Is it just me or does it seem like an incredibly long time since the start of Lent? Perhaps this is largely because so much has happened over the last three months; the war in Ukraine resulting from the Russian invasion of that country, many thousands of people fleeing and becoming refugees, many others doing their best to offer them help and sanctuary, shortages of oil, gas, food and other commodities contributing massively to the cost of living crisis we are currently enduring. We’ve also had “Partygate” and “Beergate” and the subsequent enquiries, recriminations and repercussions, the continuing twists and turns of the ongoing pandemic and on a happier note the preparations and celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. All these issues and others I haven’t got time to include here have bounced us around relentlessly and probably left us struggling to know what to make of it all and in many cases wondering how we’re going to cope. Yes, a lot has been going on!
By the time they got to what we now know as Pentecost, a lot had been going on in the lives of Jesus’ disciples, to put it mildly. Perhaps a better description of their experiences would be dramatic, turbulent and traumatic. In order to try to appreciate how they may have been feeling I’d like us to imagine ourselves into their shoes so to speak. They were ordinary people who had met Jesus and been completely captivated by him. They had given up everything of their lives including their families and livelihoods in order to follow him. Just hold that thought for a moment and really take it in. They had left their families. They had seen Jesus’ works and listened to his teachings which were utterly different to those of other religious leaders. They had believed in him and invested everything of themselves in being his disciples. And then they had seen his betrayal and the horror of his humiliating death leaving them feeling bereft. What was it all for?Then everything changes massively again with Jesus’ resurrection, which at first the Disciples struggled to accept until they actually saw him for themselves. This brings us to the place in the story we’ve just heard in John’s Gospel where Jesus is about to leave them again, at least physically. Up to this point they have had him there with them as their mentor and been used to relying on him for wisdom, guidance and strength. They have been followers but now they are about to step up to the role of being leaders. How would we feel if we were them? Anxious, fearful, wondering whether we’re up to the incredible mission entrusted to us??? It’s hard to even comprehend isn’t it!
To bring the concept of personal challenge a little closer to home, I wonder whether any of you saw the recent TV drama series “This is going to hurt” which was based on the diaries of an NHS junior hospital doctor, Adam Kay? Through the episodes we get to see how ill equipped and unsupported he often felt to deal with some of the situations he was presented with on a daily basis. The opening line was something like “Welcome to the NHS, where you’re frequently sailing the ship alone, a ship that’s massive and on fire but no one has had the time to teach you how to sail“. As an ex nurse myself I remember plenty of occasions when I and my nursing and medical colleagues could identify with that sentiment. You have the title but you don’t necessarily feel like the expert you fear people might expect you to be. When my niece got her medical degree and first started work on the wards people would ask her words to the effect of “what are your instructions doctor”? She kept thinking “who’s this doctor person they’re talking to? Oh, it’s me”. I think this kind of anxiety can be there for many of us when begin a new job or role or take on something unfamiliar. We worry whether we’re up to it, we worry about being an imposter because we don’t know as much as others might expect us to know. It can be daunting and very stressful.
Perhaps this is how the disciples were feeling, especially coming after Jesus and his work and ministry. How could they ever be good enough?Jesus had done as much as he could to prepare them but, as with all of us, eventually they had to step out on their own. If Jesus had stayed with them, would they ever have developed into the people they became or have the ministries they had that eventually spread Christianity throughout the world? Perhaps it took them a while to see themselves as the leaders they needed to be but they kept going and growing into their roles and we are able to see what they became and what they achieved. It’s almost unbelievable. How we see ourselves plays a big part in what we become and what we do but conversely it can hold us back if we are unable or unwilling to visualise ourselves in a particular role. It can be tempting to want to stay in our comfort zone with what is familiar and where we feel safe and secure; believe me I know the feeling, but if we never challenge ourselves or accept the challenges life presents us with, will we ever become the people we have the potential to be or to use the gifts God has given us?
Again I ask you to imagine yourself into someone else’s shoes. As we celebrate her Platinum Jubilee this weekend imagine how the Queen may have felt when she was informed of her beloved father’s untimely death and that she was now the regent. She would have known that someday the role was going to be hers but not at that time and under those circumstances. As she said in an interview some years later, “I didn’t have an apprenticeship “. But she did take on the role of queen and head of state and ever since, she has seen it as her duty to faithfully carry it out. The current celebrations show how much she is loved and respected and appreciated in many parts of the world for having done so.
Occasionally circumstances mean that we get flung in at the deep end with something we are unprepared for; as happened only this week when Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York had to stand in for the Archbishop of Canterbury and preach at the Thanksgiving service at St Paul’s. He described it as “slightly terrifying but a great honour”. More often than not though we get the chance to grow gradually into a role and by the time it becomes fully ours we at least have some practice and familiarity with it enabling us to see ourselves in it. However, taking that final step up can still be daunting and take a lot of courage, but having taken it we can begin to grow in knowledge, experience and confidence and when we look back we can see just how far we have come. I remember at the start of my Reader training someone telling me that where God calls he also equips and at each stage of what I’ve been doing, I’ve found this to be true. So if you feel that you are being called to some service, be it great or small either in the church or in the wider world I would encourage you to step up and accept it. God gives us all gifts so try not to be shy about using yours. Don’t hide your light under the proverbial bushel. Speaking as one of the team who grapple with producing the rota, believe me when I say, we need you.
The value of people stepping up can’t be overstated. The Disciples stepped up when Jesus called them to continue the work he had started even though they didn’t feel ready. The Queen stepped up to be our regent even though she didn’t feel ready. Millions of people all over the world and throughout time have stepped up when they were needed so let us be inspired and encouraged by their examples and trust that through the Holy Spirit, God will provide us with all that we need for the tasks before us.


The Prayers
Prepared by David Clark.

We pray for God to fill us with his Spirit.
Generous God,
we thank you for the power of your Holy Spirit.
We ask that we may be strengthened to serve you better.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the wisdom of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to make us wise to understand your will.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the peace of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to keep us confident of your love wherever you call us.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the healing of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to bring reconciliation and wholeness
where there is division, sickness and sorrow.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the gifts of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to equip us for the work which you have given us.
Particularly today we give you thanks
for your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
and for the example of loving and faithful service
which she has shown among us.
Help us to follow her example of dedication
and to commit our lives to you and to one another,
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the fruit of your Holy Spirit.
We ask you to reveal in our lives the love of Jesus.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

We thank you for the breath of your Holy Spirit,
given us by the risen Lord.
We ask you to keep the whole Church, living and departed,
in the joy of eternal life.
Lord, come to bless us
All   and fill us with your Spirit.

Generous God,
you sent your Holy Spirit upon your Messiah at the river Jordan,
and upon the disciples in the upper room:
in your mercy fill us with your Spirit,
Merciful Father,
All  accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.