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President’s Blog 2nd June 2020

President’s Blog 2nd June 2020
June 2, 2020 Hilary Evans

On Sunday we remembered Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit came to the disciples. This year we have experienced that special day for the church in an unfamiliar way. We are told in Acts that some were perplexed by what was happening. Others, we are told had ‘presence of mind to be bewildered’. The disciples were experiencing something they had never experienced before. We are experiencing something we have never experienced before as we journey through these days of restricted life.
As we move towards more freedom, there are many questions about timing, about vulnerability, about regaining the chance to meet and kiss and hug those close to us. There is hesitation and not a little concern. Yet, we must face each new day. So, a question is: how to respond at this time where there is anxiety?
The recent weeks turning to months have held challenges of various sorts, and has highlighted much that needs attention in our society. How, as caring, committed people do we help to improve the life experiences of everyone, right across the artificial divides of society?
Many peoples and cultures have experienced hard, challenging times, throughout human history. One example is the story of Moses and the people of Israel in the wilderness. The people there became anxious, worried, afraid of the future, disheartened. They wanted to go back to lives of slavery in Egypt. They must have felt bad. They murmured, they complained, they wanted ‘out’. Their leader, Moses, gathered most of the key people. All but two, who for reasons unknown to us, were not there. He prayed, and we are told that ‘he took of the Spirit’ and ‘… put the Spirit on seventy elders’.[Numbers 11:25] Surprisingly though, the two who were not there also received the Spirit at the same time. All began to prophecy, to express themselves in an exuberant way. Sadly, this did not last, but it was Moses desire that everyone received the full gifts of the Spirit. That, it seems to me is what God desires for each person. It is not less true than it was in Moses’ time.
Our task then is how to respond to todays challenges. The past week has brought to the fore uncomfortable truths of people against people. How do we find a way of responding which is driven by a fresh understanding of the gift to humanity at Pentecost? How can we speak in a new way to encourage better systems and relationships? We are all invited to listen, to hear, to act, to learn more of faith and how to share it, not as a remote possibility, but as a way of engaging with others, of using our faith to good, to work in the power of God day by day, in the present. Our first act needs to be prayer so that we start to hear the promise of Pentecost, allowing the Spirit to move us into further action to help others. We cannot afford to sit on the margins if we seek change in society, and we must accept that it will not be an easy path, but I believe we will only begin to see real change for a more just and more equal society if we let ourselves be guided into the areas of concern, become advocates of positive approaches and guided by God’s Spirit.