July Team Letter from Revd. Alan Perry

Posted on by Tania Birtwistle

The Season of the Spirit.

 

Acts 2:6  ‘at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each’.

 

I am often struck when I am on holiday how wonderful so many people’s skills are at speaking different languages.  Whether it is people on the front desk of a hotel, waiters, taxi drivers and many others; people seem able to switch from one language to another without any difficulty.

 

For the majority of English people this is a talent we sorely lack and we tend to be far worse than the majority of our European neighbours.

 

For eight years before I entered full time ministry I was the Headteacher of a secondary school that specialised in languages and every student had the opportunity to study up to three languages including Mandarin Chinese.  Even though it was very hard for the languages teachers to teach children of all abilities we all felt it was worthwhile and it gave every child a basic understanding of a language that would open doors to them that we could only imagine.

Sadly, the current political climate means that across British schools language learning is in decline, and so the gap between our European counterparts and ourselves is likely to remain significant.

 

In June we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, coming fifty days after Easter when the disciples received the Holy Spirit for the first time and one of the signs of the reception of this God given gift was the ability of the disciples to speak in a language that all could understand.  Some commentators have argued that the disciples spoke Latin, the lingua franca of the day and that is why the pilgrims in Jerusalem could each understand,  but I think this belittles the wonder and miraculous nature of the event that turned frightened men and women into a new religious movement that would spread throughout the known world and mark the birth of the Christian church.

 

The Season of Pentecost or the Coming of the Spirit (Trinity) which lasts up until the Feast of All Saints is a time to celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit that continues to bestow gifts on all who follow Jesus Christ and empowers the church to continue to exist and lead us all in to a greater understanding of the Truth (which might well surprise and unsettle us) in our own day. 

 

Reverend Alan Perry