Homily preached by Revd Karen Charman for BCP Holy Communion at All Saints’, Cuddesdon, on Sunday 2nd May 2021
May I speak in the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
It seems strange, in this Easter season, to find ourselves, with our BCP Gospel reading, back on Maundy Thursday, in that section of John’s Gospel known as the Farewell Discourses, as Jesus bids farewell to his friends before his arrest and crucifixion.
But perhaps it is appropriate, and beneficial, to return to the farewell discourses during the Easter Season, and as Ascension Day approaches. The Farewell Discourses are – or, at least, this extract from the Farewell Discourses is – perhaps – as appropriate as we look towards Ascensiontide as it was in Lent.
“I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you …”
That Comforter is, as you know, the Holy Spirit, who will fall upon the disciples so dramatically, and with such exciting results, at Pentecost. This is, also, the Spirit of truth, who will guide the disciples, and the church, into all truth.
I often feel that the Holy Spirit is – in some churches – treated as the poor relation or, perhaps, the black sheep, of the Holy Trinity. In some churches, believers dare not speak too frequently, or too boldly, of the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not dare pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We might not be sure that we want the Holy Spirit to come – in all his – or her – power, like a mighty wind or a burning flame – to disrupt our orderly worship and our comfortable, cosy, Christianity.
I wonder, do you dare to pray, with me, “Come, Holy Spirit. Come, Spirit of truth. Come and set our hearts on fire with love for you. Come and pour out your gifts upon us, then send us out into the streets, the pub, the country paths to glorify your name?”
Let’s sit for a few minutes and either pray that the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will fall upon us anew or, if you prefer, use the silence to listen for the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and hear what word the Spirit has to say to you, today. Where might the Spirit be leading, or calling, you?