“Is there something special about Pentecost?” I was asked this when I told people that Pentecost, June 9th was when I was retiring. I celebrated my seventieth birthday last November and look forward to a change of pace in retirement, but at my request the Bishop agreed to extend my licence until Pentecost. My answer is that there is something very special indeed about Pentecost, it is the third major festival of the church’s year and the birthday of the church. Pentecost which comes ten days after the Ascension and fifty days after Easter is the time to celebrate God’s overwhelming gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ who empowers us to be the people God made us to be. In our modern world much emphasis is given to individual rights, being in control and doing it ‘my way’ but as Christian people we are aware that in our calling to be part of God’s mission to the world around us, we need to be filled with God’s Spirit, we cannot do it alone. As we cannot live without God’s help, we cannot live without other people, we are interdependent, each of us part of the body of Christ. This image of a body helps us to see how each person’s different gifts and skills make up a whole in the life of the Christian community. All have a part to play, those in the prime of life, young people and those who are getting older. The Holy Spirit is often portrayed as a gentle dove, but the Spirit of God can be as a rushing wind or tongues of flame unsettling us, ending complacency and stirring us to do something new, maybe something we had never thought we could do. I wait to see what challenges lie ahead in retirement, but what will make the biggest difference to those around us are the fruits of the Spirit shown in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control which need Spirit filled lives and not only at Pentecost.

Rev'd Jane Culliford, Vicar, St Andrew's Church West Stafford.