Letter from Rev Angela Overton-Benge
In the church calendar we have left Eastertide behind and we are now in the season of Trini-ty. Eastertide begins with Easter Sunday and the pure joy of the resurrection. It comes to an end with first the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, followed ten days later by the giving of the Holy Spirit. This day we now call the feast of Pentecost but for most of my childhood it was called WhitSunday or Whitsun. I remember being kitted out with new shoes and socks and perhaps a dress, bought with the Co-op dividend money. In many places there were Whit Walks or Marches, which were great occasions in a local calendar for many communities, may I say mainly in the North of England.
However, whatever the name, it truly is a great occasion in the church as we celebrate the Holy Spirit being made fully manifest in the world. I once read of the idea that the giving of the Holy Spirit was like the atom bomb falling on the world, but this time it is an explosion of love and power. The Holy Spirit was given to enable the churches to fulfil their purpose of spreading the good news of God to all the world, bringing light and joy to all.
As I was thinking of these things, I was also thinking of the year or more we have had of be-ing in fear of the covid virus. We have been locked away in our own separate homes or in isolated bubbles to prevent us from spreading the virus to one another. Paradoxically to hu-man instincts, this was to show respect, kindness and good neighbourliness to one another. As we all know, being apart from each other helped halt the spread. How very different this is from a gospel that is meant to be preached, not just in churches, but in every Christian's everyday life as we meet one another in love. I know many have tried to find innovative ways of reaching out to people so they know they have not been forgotten. Social media, Zoom, Face Time, and the simple telephone have been a boon to many of us, including one time I even did my washing up whilst I talked to a friend via the internet. Nevertheless, one has to admit that there is nothing quite like seeing someone face to face and just talking, and hopefully one day giving them a hug.
This of course may soon be a possibility due to the wonderful work of scientists and the medical profession. Through the hard work and intelligence of many, we may be seeing a chink of light at the end of the tunnel because of the vaccine. As society is opening up wed-dings have begun and baptisms are being booked, if both events have not already taken place. One gets the feeling that there is a little hope in everyone's heart.
However, we also still have to be careful with each other and of the way we gather together. For hidden behind those closed doors that are gradually opening, there may be a lot of pain. Each of us have suffered a certain amount of low level stress and for some of us it has been far from low level, but real pain. Others of us of course have had the covidvirus itself and it may take some time to fully recover. For many, it will take some persuading that it is okay to come out of their homes.
This is where the many colours of the Gospel message of love will need to come into their own. God's message of love comes in many packages, and although it can come in a full burst of excitement like the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, it can also be delivered quietly and gently. Much like Jesus when he encountered the woman who came with a haemorrhage too ashamed to reveal herself. She came to him timidly. He called her my daughter. Or Nicodemus who came to him by night, and Jesus told him of the way to eternal life.
As we hopefully regain our freedom, and some of us move about with confidence, let us not forget or leave behind those who will find it difficult. Perhaps we will also have to find gentle ways of reconnecting with each other. The young seem to find it much easier, in fact they are eager to meet with friends, whilst others will be more reticent. However, whoever we meet, let us pray that we are careful with each other. Let us fully rejoice with those who re-joice but also help in the healing when others find life difficult.
As I said in the beginning, we are now in the season of Trinity. It reminds us that God is Fa-ther, Son and Holy Spirit. He is one God, but reflecting a whole character, in community with each other. We may be very different people to the various people that we know, for in-stance partner, parent, close friends. Yet however we encounter our Lord, God will come, perhaps gently, always beautifully, and many times joyfully into our lives. God never pushes in where he is not wanted, yet is always ready to be there when someone calls.
As we adjust, and keep on adjusting, to whatever befalls us, let us pray we remain compas-sionate and ever responding to the cries and joys around us. Let us not lose sight of our compassionate God who is ever ready to be near the broken hearted, and yet also rejoices with those who want to sing for joy.
God bless Angela