Revd Donna Leigh.
PENTECOST SUNDAY MESSAGE. From our Minister Rev’d Donna Leigh
My husband and I were talking this morning, before the difficult decision to be made, which incidentally we have a chat about every morning ---what shall we have for breakfast?
For some peculiar reason, breakfast has become important in our household, it must be a good start or a boring
one. Boring is Weetabix or Cornflakes, good is anything with an egg involved, and that means a good start to
another strange day. When we experienced difficulties obtaining eggs, it was a national tragedy, as that also meant no baking any time soon!
For those of you who have come to know me over the last 5 years, baking is my way of relaxing and being creative. The sight of ingredients and cooking utensils fills me with joy, alongside the smells and the delights of eating wonderful cake. Imagine my stress and pain, at not being able to obtain flour/sugar and the eggs. My challenge was to locate flour, and then icing sugar. Please imagine my despair at the lack of these ingredients and accompanying stress levels rising!
My lovely hubby happened upon a shop which could be used for the BBC tv series “Open all hours “. He thought to himself, “I wonder “? Went in to hopefully ask if they had cake ingredients, and the shopkeeper led him into an Aladdin’s cave at the back of the shop filled with –yes flour and sugar ---praise the lord!
Our days are filled with joyous moments, such as the example I have just described. We all took for granted the
basic ingredients of our lives and I’m not just talking cakes here. I took for granted all the people in our church
communities, the laughter, the tears, the hugs ( I really miss the hugs by the way )the sounds of singing, communal prayer and above all joy at being the people of God, being together.
I expect you will all be able to relate to some of my outpourings, and after all this is over and we come together as
a community again, imagine the stories we will be sharing with each other, what we have learnt and how the fruits of the spirit will take on more meaning in our lives.
I firmly believe that Galatians chapter 5, verse 22 conveys such beauty within a time of sorrow and hardship and
will continue to do so for many months to come. I hope you will forgive my tongue in cheek account of my
meltdown regarding lack of SR flour when we have witnessed the loss of family members, seen the awesome work of NHS workers and the love shown the elderly and housebound in the voluntary work of so many. The fruits of the spirit are love, so much love seen throughout for so many.
Joy, yes joy. The simple pleasure of having a chat with your neighbour and getting together on Thursday evenings and clapping for the NHS heroes. Peace. During so much trauma and turmoil, for peace is internal that we can all have in the middle of suffering all around us.
Patience. My goodness have we learnt to be patient, such an important virtue and not easy to practise. To wait, trust and to endure, these are practises which arguably have been lacking in our communities in recent decades. We have lived in an age which has demanded instant results. The constant rushing, and suddenly it stopped.
Kindness. So much kindness in so many ways. The list is endless and let us hope it continues long after the
Pandemic is over. Faithfulness. This has been one of the most essential ingredients to keep our spirits up and
keep going each day. Gentleness. So much gentleness as seen on the COVID wards, on our tv sets, displayed by the nurse holding the phone to a patient who longs to see family members. The gentle holding of a hand. The gentle words expressing sorrow and love to a grieving person.
Self-control. Maybe the hardest gift, to control the urge to visit family and friends. The urge to say “open the church doors “and let us all come together at a time when we need it the most.
All of us, this Pentecost Sunday, have walked and are walking in the spirit of Jesus Christ and this has brought us all together in one spirit and as one church. Lord Jesus Christ, on Pentecost Day, you sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and empowered by the spirit, they went forth to preach the gospel to the world.
Grant that we, in this time of uncertainty and turmoil, experience that same power in our lives, so that we may
wherever we are, enjoy the peace and unity of your kingdom. Forever and ever, Amen
Plymouth & District
January to April 2020
Readings: Acts 2:1-21. Num. 11:24-30. Jn.7:37-39.
From Rev'd Simon Leigh (Superintendent Minister)
Two or three years ago Elburton Methodist Church used the film The King's Speech as a Lent devotional. The film depicts the terrible struggle King George VI had to overcome a stammer and a nervous affliction. Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, assisted him in finding a voice. It is perhaps something we all take for granted, but our voices tell a great deal about us. I can recall making a presentation a couple of years ago at the University of Durham and my voice went to pieces. A combination of nerves and the dreaded imposter complex rendered me a babbling wreck; finding a voice is so important and yet so often a very real trial. For George VI finding a voice was a vital necessity for him and this nation during World War 2.
Our reading from Numbers gives vent to a prophetic voice which Moses is keen not to stifle. The voice of the prophet is not an easy one to hear and the example of Samuel, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel makes it clear why. So often the prophetic voice is not received well because this is a voice which calls for repentance and for change.
This voice may tell us that those things which we hold dear, those practices we see as fit and proper are now not fit for purpose. The prophetic voice may call on a people, an individual or organisation to change, take stock and move in a new direction. Covid-19 has for me revealed that there are things about society, Church and relationships which need to be changed; venerated formulaic shibboleths have so often merely served to frustrate and fetter, now they must go and allow people, institutions, society to know a new dispensation.
The inauthentic 'they who wouldn't like it' which is shorthand for organisational paralysis, lethargy and individual despair requires challenging by that small quiet voice which cannot be silenced. Moses' wisdom in silencing Joshua so as to allow the prophetic voice to be heard speaks volumes to our generation.
The early church faced persecution. It is understandable how the first Apostles may have felt a certain sense of security in a holy huddle lockdown, behind closed doors. And yet, surely part of the message of Pentecost is that the early Church found its universal voice, whereby peoples of every nation, language and dialect could hear and understand the good news of Jesus Christ. Centuries later Samuel Pollard, a Bible Christian minister from Camelford, went to China preaching and living out the Gospel for the people of Guizhou.
He translated the Bible into their native Miao script. Just as those first Christians, Pollard of Shebbear and countless other Christians have found a voice and overcame the barriers of language and difference, so we too need to find our voice and enable others to find theirs. Charles Wesley sums it up thus:
So shall we pray and never cease,
so shall we thankfully confess
your wisdom, truth and power and love,
with joy unspeakable adore,
and bless and praise you evermore,
and serve you as your hosts above.
Till, added to that heavenly choir,
we raise our songs in triumph higher,
and praise you with a bolder voice,
out-soar the first-born seraph's flight
and sing with all the friends in light,
with everlasting love rejoice.
(Charles Wesley 1707-1788)
Singing the Faith 378.
May the Spirit of Pentecost permit you to find that bolder voice.