The Whit Monday Bank Holiday was given a new name in 1978; the Spring Bank Holiday. It was fixed as the last Monday in May, having previously moved in tandem with Easter.
I still enjoy this bank holiday, but it’s a shame that we have lost the association with Whitsun. That is an ancient, distinctive English name for what is otherwise known as Pentecost.
The lost association matters because there is a capacity we need to recover in the Whitsun story of the gift of the Holy Spirit, to the apostles of Jesus Christ, via the dramatic tongues of fire. It lies in the use and transforming power of a common language.
The language of sorrow is commonly understood in tears; the language of joy in a smile, and of peace in our own hands.
The gift of the Holy Spirit has the effect of empowering Christians to communicate our faith in ways that cross the boundaries of language, time and culture.
The love of God speaks through the tears of Jesus which we remember from Good Friday , recognition in his face, and hands that reach across the lines of discrimination and fear.
In his humanity he shows us the divine mercy – God’s love.
The Whitsun gift of the Holy Spirit reminds us that the power of this language is within our reach.
A national course for enquirers of the Christian Faith known as Alpha has helped millions of people around the world find out more about Jesus, and ask big questions about life, faith and everything. They have recently released a new series of films which provide a powerful way to explore faith with interviews and stories from around the world. You can watch them at www.alpha.org/watch
The Bible calls on Christians to specifically ‘remember the prisoners.’ Prison fellowship seeks to do this in a number of ways, and is active in both Ford and Lewes prison. In Lewes they help facilitate courses, run study groups, and write letters to prisoners. You can find out more about their work through the churches together in Lewes website.
Issues of migration
On Friday May 20th at 7.30pm, St Mary’s Church in Petworth is hosting Peter Marsden of Concordis International who has previously worked with Canon Andrew White, ‘Vicar of Baghdad.’ Peter will be speaking on ’Mass migration-an appropriate response?’ and all the issues around migration on such a vast scale. Refreshments will be served and no booking necessary.