On Saturday 30th May, a virtual Pentecost Communion service between the United Reformed Church (URC) and the Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz (Protestant churches of the Palatinate region of Germany), was held via Zoom.
The service was led by the Revd Philip Brooks, URC Secretary for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, and Pfarrer Martin Henninger, Minister of the Lutherkirche in Frankenthal, who is also the Convener of the Friends of the URC of the Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz, a partnership that pre-dates the URC, going back to 1957.
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The General Secretary of the URC, the Revd John Proctor, gave the following address:
Pentecost is about God reaching out to the world, and good news reaching into people’s lives. Pentecost is about the breath of God blowing strong and the grace of God spreading wide.
A sound came from heaven. They were all filled. God is reaching out.
People from every nation under heaven. We hear them in our own languages. Fresh good news is reaching into human living.
What was spoken by the prophet, now coming into view. Word becoming visible. Promise taking shape in the story of earth.
God’s Spirit poured out, on sons and daughters, on the young and the old. A torrent of grace flowing across God’s world.
Whoever calls on the name of the Lord … without boundary or limit or quota. A beckoning, inviting, empowering message.
God is reaching out … in the name of Jesus … like a mighty wind … across the earth … in generous and abundant strength and power and love … gathering people of all kinds in hope and promise. God is reaching out.
Pentecost is a message with wide horizons, with a broad reach, with a confident, hopeful, outgoing perspective. Can we think like this, believe like this, act like this, in these present days of restriction, division, social distancing and fear? Maybe we can.
A few weeks ago was the 75th anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, church leader and Christian martyr in Germany, a person of great courage and faith. A few days before his last Pentecost, in 1944, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from prison to his fiancée Maria:
“… I want this Pentecost to be blessed for us both. Blessing – when God is near and God is active – is something you can see and feel. Blessing reaches out to other people – it wants to be passed on. People who are blessed are themselves a blessing … There is nothing greater, is there, than being a blessing for others? Not just a helper, a companion, a friend, but a blessing. That is much more … That is what we want to pray for. That is how we want to celebrate Pentecost.”
Even in days of division, restriction, fear and threat, Pentecost is a season of blessing. God blessing the world with the Spirit. The church receiving that blessing and passing it on. God reaching out into the world, and good news reaching into people’s lives.
May you be blessed at Pentecost. May you be a blessing in God’s world.