June 2019

Dear Friends,

Have you seen the film “Mary Poppins Returns”? I had been looking forward to watching it as the original “Mary Poppins” with Julie Andrews was one of my favourite childhood films. I have seen it so often that I could probably, even now, not only sing-along with all the songs but also join in with most of the dialogue!

However, my excitement turned to disappointment when I recently saw the film because although the storyline is different to the original, it is also very similar to it. And while the actors are excellent, and there are some good new songs, I found myself constantly comparing it to the original and for me it was a poor imitation. I’m sure a new generation of children will find it as wonderful as I found the original – but I wish that the writers would have made the story much more different from the original. (Though there was a surprise cameo role for one of the Mary Poppins originals!)

June 9th is the Christian festival of Pentecost – a festival we don’t always pay enough attention to, especially when we compare it to the way we celebrate Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. We often approach it in either one of two ways as we compare it the event recorded in Acts chapter 2. Either we wish God would do the same again: if only we were there, if only we could recreate the outpouring what happened 2000 years ago - have a re-run of the original version. Or, we are fearful of the Holy Spirit, because we cannot imagine the presence of God coming to us in such a seemingly powerful and mysterious way – so we don’t pay any attention to it and settle for less than all the fullness of God.

But the God we serve is a God who is always doing a new thing. There are echoes of what has gone before as we recognise God’s hand at work in all he is doing today. But we experience God’s presence and God’s power in our own way, according to our own needs, and in the context of the world as it is today. And when we encounter God, it is never a poor imitation of someone else’s experience, but unique to us and no less powerful as God reveals all God is to us. Many others receive the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (and have done down through the centuries) – but never is it the same way twice.

What stands out for me in the account of Pentecost in Acts 2 is that the Holy Spirit is a gift that God promises to us all – and that includes us, God’s people here and now, AS WELL AS those who are far off from God in our own communities (v.38-39).

It has nothing to do with recreating a past event – but has everything to do with stepping into the fullness of God, his love for us, and the future he has for us. It has nothing to do with fear because “perfect love casts out fear” (I John 4:18) – but has everything to do with discovering the depths of the God who “first loved us” (I John 4:19). Will we who receive the promise of God today have the boldness to step out and speak up in the name of Jesus so that others will turn to the one who loves us and offers life and forgiveness to all who turn to him?

Happy Pentecost!

Rev Rachel Deigh   Mission & Ministry Team Leader