A reflection for Pentecost Sunday: The Spirit of Abundance
The Very Revd David Hoyle writes about the Holy Spirit for the Day of Pentecost
Years ago I used to interview students who wanted a place at university. Every one of them had a CV as long as your arm - captain of inter-house needlepoint, convener of the Framlingham ferret fanciers, in their holidays they had taught English in Sao Luis. To be impressive you must have achievements. So, it is odd, that there is one, strangely anonymous, member of the Trinity.
God the Father, we know,
almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
God the Son, similarly has history (it is, indeed, exactly what he has)
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead and buried…
The Spirit, however, can sound like the poor relation of the Trinity,
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints…
In the Roman Catholic Catechism it suggests that the Spirit never speaks of itself. It is very unusual never to speak of yourself, but it is what the Spirit does. Like a thief in the night you cannot see the Spirit but you can see where (s)he has been. Which is why Jesus said:
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. John 14:17
I am the Dean of Westminster and Westminster (in better times) is a complicated place. At any given moment you might have twenty children in blazers practicing Bairstow in D over there, while here are two earnest tourists discussing the difference between an arch and an ambo. Up there the organist is practicing a phrase from Messaien for the fourteenth time and here, in front of you, is someone in floods of tears because their love affair has gone wrong
We tidy that up at our peril, because much of it is the work of the Spirit. When the thief in the night passes through (s)he leaves behind one thing - disorder. Where the Spirit has been what you get is abundance and variety. Read Genesis and you will find that the Spirit gives abundance. Genesis starts with a formless deep and the Spirit which brings out of the deep this, which is different from that, and then something else. It is the same Spirit that has the apostles speaking in all those different tongues at Pentecost.
The point about life in the Spirit is that it is rich and abundant and we should learn to enjoy that. More importantly we should learn to trust it. Because, in the Spirit it holds together - it does not fall apart. The great challenge is not that we should all end up the same, the challenge is that we should be different and enjoy it. The day of Pentecost is the day that we celebrate the fact that God gives us variety, gives us your extraordinary cathedral and my extraordinary Abbey. Gives us the gifts, the imagination and the language to love both. In the Spirit we can forgive, explain, argue and be reconciled, we can co-operate, sympathise and love. The day of Pentecost is the day of variety and the opportunity to see that this is where the Spirit has been.
The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle MBE, Dean of Westminster.