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Bishop Richard's Weekly video Message - Transcript 16.05.2024

Video 200, May 16th, 2024 for Pentecost

Hello everyone and welcome to video no. 200.  I’m not quite sure where all the time has gone.

I’m recording this from our Pentecost prayer space in the Chapel here in the Palace.  Its still open until Pentecost Sunday and you’d be most welcome to pop in – its open all day.  You can book in online and participate remotely if you go to the diocesan website.

There are various stations which lead you into prayer on different aspects of the role and nature of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost is the celebration of his work which takes the things of Jesus and makes them real in our own experience.  The Holy Spirit at Pentecost took the disciples’ head knowledge and lived experience of Jesus and turned it into a life changing reality.  He continues to do this today.

The stations in this space prompt prayer and reflection around different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. One corner leads us into contemplation of the metaphor of the Spirit as oil.  This is picked up in a number of our services from baptism and confirmation, through to ordination and the anointing of the sick.  Each one symbolising God’s Spirit being at work in those life transitions.  My eye was caught by this can of WD 40 of all things. The slogan on the outside tells you what it does – stops squeaks, drives out moisture, cleans protects, loosens rusted parts and frees sticky mechanisms! All things that the Holy Spirit enables in our lives.

He stops squeaks, As Pauls says in Philippians 2: 14 followers of Jesus are to do everything without complaining!   He goes on in chapter 4: 11 to say that he has learned to be content in all circumstances.

He drives out moisture. Sometimes people complain we Anglican’s are a bit provisional, even wet about our convictions.  Part of that is a very good thing. We seek to provide a safe space for people to explore spiritual things, rather than insisting on signing up for everything from the word go. But we are wont to put our provisionality in the wrong place.  The early church didn’t seek to cast doubt on the resurrection but to proclaim it as historical, life changing fact. And Jesus promised in John 16: 13, that when He, the spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth”.

He cleans. Our Christian journey is a journey into deeper holiness as the old is forgiven, redeemed and cleansed and new life emerges.  As Paul says in his letter to Titus 3: 5, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

He protects.  Jesus prays extensively in his closing words in John’s Gospel for the powerful protection of the Holy Spirit on the early, very fragile church. Paul in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians 3:3 prays similarly, that God would strengthen us and protect us from the evil one. Jesus promised that he would never leave us or forsake us. The pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost is an endowment for all time, for all Christians everywhere. Whatever our circumstances he will never leave us alone, until Jesus one day returns. 

He loosens rusted parts.  In one of his first actions in Luke’s Gospel Jesus went into the Synagogue and read from the scroll of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”. Allowed free reign in our lives the Spirit can deliver from addiction, the effects of past hurts and set us free to be the people we were created to be, unencumbered by the burdens of sin done by us, and sin done to us.

And finally, he does indeed free sticky mechanisms, particularly relational ones. The church is a relational system like other human systems.  The work of the Holy Spirit is not just to individuals but seeks to change our relational dynamics in ways that create unity in diversity.  As Jesus prays in John 17: 22, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” When the Spirit truly gets to work in a community our differences become a place of creativity rather than conflict. Love manifests itself in setting aside our preferences for the good of others. And Jesus is more faithfully made known.

There you are a sermonette from a can of WD 40. WD stands for water dispersal; forty is the number of attempts required to get the mixture right. Not only is this stuff effective, but its creators were persistent as well.  Our Lord does not give up on us when we fail but is similarly persistent.

Have a very happy Pentecost.


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