Maybe it’s my northern roots but I always love Pentecost Sunday. Whit Sunday as it used to be known was always celebrated in style in Sheffield and the old folk would often reminisce about church outings on a charabanc wearing new clothes (often white and therefore hopelessly impractical). Coming together as a church family for outings and events shaped my early understanding of church and has therefore coloured my own ideas now in Christian ministry. Being visible family, holding visible unity, these things matter to me deeply.
When we gather as a church we do not have to establish relationships with each other, and all that can entail with insecurities, social jostling and judgements. Rather we join a relationship, a conversation that has been going on for a long time and to which we add our contribution. At Pentecost the disciples were amazed that they could literally understand every language of the known world. There was no need to “learn” the language of the Spirit – it was a given to all who desired it. It is just the same for us now. Christians do not have to learn a language to join the conversation, to form a relationship both with those seated beside them and with God.
I know that it might feel like there is a whole lot of Christian jargon out there – and yes of course as with any subject there are technical terms and forms of words that have a particular meaning and style, but there is no pre-requisite to know this before you can come through the church door. And let’s face it all of our language is inadequate to really speak and talk of God. We need just as much now as ever the Holy Spirit who we are told “intercedes with sighs too deep for words” on our behalf.
What a glorious gift. What a glorious time to be gathered as Christians, united, visible and family.