This comes with warmest greetings from me, Bishop Peter, to wish you joy and gladness in Christ at Pentecost. Our season of Eastertide concludes with the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, the account of which we read in the book of Acts, Chapter 2. The Lord has risen, He has ascended to Heaven to return to the Father, and now comes the gift of the Holy Spirit to enable the life of the Church and to strengthen the People of God.
The great truth of Pentecost is universality. As the Spirit comes, there are people from Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia (so including what today is Iraq and Turkey) as well as Egypt, Libya, Crete … it is the entire world of the eastern Mediterranean, with the wind of the Spirit very clearly prepared to carry the Gospel even further afield. In the remainder of the entire book of the Acts of the Apostles, this is precisely what we see happening: the Spirit blasts the Gospel outwards as a mighty wind. And the flames described as ‘tongues of fire’ become the ardent sermons and speeches of the first Christians – Peter, Stephen, Paul – as people are drawn to Christ.
The Holy Spirit is at work in exactly the same way today – in the mere fact that you are reading these words! The universality of Pentecost has brought the Gospel to you and to me, in your place and mine and in this moment. I recall how in St John’s Gospel, in Chapter 17, the Lord prays specifically not just for the disciples of His own time but for all Christians in all subsequent generations, including ourselves, and indeed those who will follow us. My prayer for you, and for me, is that the Holy Spirit will enable us to hear God’s word afresh, to receive it anew, to show it in our lives, and to carry it into the world. As we stand at a moment when we can begin to think about re-opening our churches and sharing together again in fellowship and joy, who knows what blessings the Spirit may bring in our own day!