Rector's Blog

A Message for Pentecost from the Rector, Rev’d Cannon Andrea Jones

Learning different languages is wonderful but it is rather embarrassing that here in the UK we are so bad at it: even here in Wales where we are a bilingual nation. Other nationalities seem to do it a lot better!  Language is important to communication and it can be a barrier as well as gateway and lead to misunderstanding and conflict. Think of the story of the tower of Babel.

At the Feast of Pentecost we recall events outlined in the Acts of the Apostles where miraculously the disciples were able to speak in all the different languages that were spoken in Jerusalem at that time; and it seems that first century Palestine, rather like Britain today was a multi-cultural nation, where there were loads of different languages being spoken.  And people were amazed to hear their own language.  But even then some people misunderstood – they accused the disciples of being drunk.

It would be wonderful if we could all understand each other’s languages. Even then there could still be misunderstanding because at the end of the day what really matters is communication.  And we live in a world where on the face of it; with mobile phones, social media and the internet, we are more connected than ever; we actually we do not have communion with each other. Instead we have information overload.  

As TS Eliot wrote – Where is the Life we have lost in living? 
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? 
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? 

And social media which in some ways might be thought to help us communicate doesn’t always do so.  It doesn’t encourage us to listen to others who might bring a different perspective to us.  Instead we tend to have friends on Facebook  or follow on Twitter those who think like us. Social media reinforces our prejudices.  Sometimes this can be harmless.  If you saw my Facebook page you would  think the whole world was obsessed with  Anthony Trollope, Miss Marple and the Anglican Church; but there is a darker side to this hidden community. We know it is often through the internet that young people have been radicalised and gone down very destructive paths in life.

In the Gospel of St John Chapter 20, which is often read in churches on Pentecost Sunday, we read that Jesus breathed on the disciples and the very energy  and life of God was given to them.  But no one can receive this amazing gift of the Holy Spirit and remain unchanged. Tremendous energy was released on the day of Pentecost and here today we also have access to the wonderful gifts of the Spirit. 

Now when I was in Manchester there were many Pentecostal Charismatic churches often housed in all manner of buildings – old garages, former chapels and warehouses.  They were full every week of people sharing in the gifts of the spirit – speaking in tongues and being given the gift of prophecy.   However, we do not all experience the Holy Spirit in that way.  But that does not mean that we do not open our hearts more fully to God and let the Holy Spirit in. As Christians we belong together because of the Spirit we share and that I believe means we need to look outwards. 

As Christians we have to look into each other’s eyes and see God there.  We especially have to do that when we meet someone who is different, might look different to us, sound different or who might not fit in our idea of what someone should be wearing or worshipping God.

If we allow spirit to speak to spirit real communication can happen and real understanding will flourish.  

To quote T S Eliot again: What life have you, if you have not life together? There is not life that is not in community. And no community not lived in praise of GOD.  Rev’d Canon Andrea Jones 28 May 2023