May Team letter from Revd Malcolm Doney

Posted on by Tania Birtwistle

Rise and shine


We’ve finally come out of hibernation, stretching and yawning. After the long, dark nights of winter, after the storms and the late snows, we’re surrounded by blossom and birdsong.


For me, springtime is when I begin to breathe again, to expand after months of being huddled up. All sorts of things look possible.


In the church community, this month, we mark two significant springlike moments: Ascension and Pentecost. The first celebrates the day when the risen Jesus finally departed the earth, and the second recalls the time when the Holy Spirit arrived, bringing an almost palpable sense of God’s continuing presence to Jesus’ followers.


In each case, it was a kind of rite of passage. Up until the ascension, Jesus’ friends and disciples had relied upon him being actually with them. They always had this parent-come-coach figure to turn to whenever things got difficult. “What do we do now?” they could ask.


Suddenly, they had to grow up, and start making decisions in their own right. Jesus, in his lifetime, had said “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Now, they had to make that way, that truth, that life, their own. This was the time when the stabilisers came off the bike.


That moment, when suddenly you’re pedalling by yourself, with no adult’s hand on the back of the saddle, is simultaneously scary and exciting. You can freewheel but also crash. It can be lonely all by yourself.


And that’s where the second rite of passage, Pentecost, comes in to play. If the Ascension was God saying, “Off you go”, Pentecost is God saying, “You’re not alone.” One of the promises Jesus made to his friends was, “Remember, I am with you even to the end of the world.”


As we wake up into spring, we can take on the world as grown-ups – living independent lives inspired by Jesus’ sense of compassion. And we do so, confident that his spirit is closer than breathing, an inner compulsion that stirs us to action. Time to wake up and smell the blossom.


Malcolm Doney