Bible

The Road Home

Next Tuesday - October 26th - at St Thomas' Roman Catholic Church in Jersey there will be a very special event.

It's a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving, and it's an opportunity for all of us to remember those who have died and who meant something special to us and to celebrate their lives.

The service has been organised by a local Funeral Directors - Pitcher and Le Quesne - who have held similar events before, but of course in the past couple of years that's been impossible because of the COVID19  restrictions.

We know that since the pandemic began, so many of us have been unable to to remember loved ones in the way we may have wanted. Either we've had limited opportunities to say a proper 'farewell' or we've been unable to travel to pay our respects and to grieve with families members and friends. So next Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the lives that meant, and still mean, so much to us.

But the service is not just for folk who've lost someone in the pandemic ... it's open to everyone who wants to keep alive the memories of their dear ones, even if they passed away years ago.

PLQ-remembrance-facebook (2)The evening, which starts at 7pm, will be just an hour of poems, readings, prayers, music and ... we hope ... smiles along with the sadness.

Church and faith leaders will play their part, and we'll have the magnificent Malcolm L'Amy on the organ at St Thomas' ... which is in Val Plaisant in St Helier (if you don't know it ... it's the big Catholic Church!) 

But we'll also be joined by some amazing singers. 

Georgi Mottram is a Jersey-born soprano. She's already a Classic Brit Award Nominee who’s debut single shot to No.1 in the iTunes Official Classical Charts in May 2021. Georgi is a very special talent and we're so thrilled she'll be joining us.

The Aureole Choir will also be part of the evening. The choir (founder and director Nicki Kennedy) was set up during the early stages of lockdown in early 2020 to give people who love singing a chance to celebrate their love for music. They initially met online and recorded music to raise money for local charities but now have over 100 members of all ages who meet regularly to sing, have fun and fundraise. They also run weekly ‘sing-alongs’ (with requests) to boost morale among those living alone and in Jersey’s care homes. They're a great bunch of people, so talented and so committed!

Next Tuesday will be an evening, as I said, which will be reflective, but it will also be filled, we trust, with smiles and hope!

During and after the service there will be an opportunity to remember loved ones and leave messages in a ‘memorial garden' at the back of church and those who wish to do so are also invited to give a donation to the Royal British Legion Jersey Poppy Appeal. That appeal actually starts next week!

Now you might be wondering why I know so much about this?

Well, it's because I've been working on this for months with the managing director of Pitcher and Le Quesne, Paul Battrick, and St Thomas' Church ... helping to communicate, finding the artists and speakers, sourcing the poems and prayers etc and getting involved in a little bit of PR as well.

I have to say, it's one of the best 'jobs' I've had for a very long time. It feels like we are doing something which will make a big difference to people and maybe bring help and comfort in their sorrow and grief.  But hopefully it will also just be a general uplifting hour! It's made me really happy to be involved, but also it's given me much time for reflection myself, and moments when I've been moved by words and music and remembered MY loved ones, including my darling Dad, who have 'gone before'.

If you are in Jersey on Tuesday, we would love to see you! If you are not here in the island, please pray for us, that people will come and be blessed. It's a big church and we'd love to see many people... and we hope it will bless us all.

So, on this Sunday, to bring you all into the circle of love we hope will surround us on Tuesday evening, please click on the link below to see/hear a presentation that will be part of the Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving.

It will be the first of two musical offerings from the Aureole Choir  and it's actually one of the first projects they produced when Jersey was in lockdown in Spring 2020. The song and video (which is on YouTube as well as the Aureole Music website) raised money for local charities, and it brought music into our lives at a time when choirs could not meet, we could not sing even in church (and anyway churches were closed)  and we felt so bereft of the joys of music and performance.

Enjoy the beautiful Jersey landscapes and seascapes and images and people, and the even more beautifully talented islanders who joined together for this very special project.

See you on Tuesday! 

 

 


God in ....

For this Sunday I simply offer this prayer. 

From the Celtic tradition, it's a prayer which for many many centuries has been spoken - out loud and in the silence of a prayerful moment -  bringing comfort, challenge and inspiration. 

If you have  a moment or two today to think of the Divine and the Almighty ... may I humbly suggest that this might be a good place to start?

Have a blessed day!

God in


A Time for Everything

We've had a lovely weekend in Jersey, with lots of sunshine and the temperatures still warm. It's been glorious!

But last night, for the first time, it felt like there was a nip in the air ... and what with the leaves beginning to turn, it really feels like summer is turning to autumn.

I'm reminded at times like this that each season of the year brings with it challenges and joys. Autumn, or Fall, brings harvest and a reminder of what the world has to offer, so long as we take care of it. 

Autumn is also a time of preparation for winter, when we maybe hunker down a bit ... well I do anyway. A time to maybe not rush around quite so much as I have in the summer. A time to appreciate home.

Every season of the year, every time of our lives, brings with it responsibilities,  demands on our time, periods of rest and recuperation, work and life, family and fun. As we grow older, I am finding, life takes on new perspectives. The dreams I had as a young person are now no longer so 'essential'. The sky won't fall in if I don't get all I want! I no longer worry much about what people think of me. I find myself becoming aware of the need to use the time left to me wisely, rather than worrying about things I cannot change. 

Time is a precious thing. Every day I learn a little more about that. And although I still yearn for a bit of 'adventure' in life, these days good health and good friends, love and security are the things I find myself cherishing  ...

Oh ... and a good night's sleep! 

In the Bible, in the Old Testament, in the book of Ecclesiastes, there are some words which talk about there being 'A Time for Everything' ... it pertains not just to people but also to nations and nature. It reminds us to use time wisely. As I said before, to cherish the moments we have been given. 

The words are encouraging, and challenging, and worth reflecting on. And at the beginning of a new week, it's worth thinking about.

I love the poetry of passages like this ... glorious!

Not sure what 'season' this is for you ... but as you read this maybe you'd like to think about your dreams and wishes and wants, priorities and the passage of time.

Be blessed!

There is a seasonA Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

(Ecclesiastes Ch 3: verses 1-8)

 


Not Lost in Translation

Do you speak more than one language?

Maybe you're multi-lingual or, like me, English is my 'mother tongue' and I only speak a smattering of other languages.

A little French - that's about it. I have a few words of Kiswahili, learned when I was a child in Africa. I can say 'good morning' and 'thanks' in a few other languages but not much more than that! I can't converse in any other that the English language. 

Although many people do speak English across the world, for which I'm very grateful, there are times when we go places and we find ourselves in need of help ... we may need a 'translator'. These days there are apps on our 'phones and tech devices that can help us to translate what is being said, but also there are those clever people who make their living translating from one language to another - helping others to communicate.

Today, believe it or not, is International Translation Day  - a day for recognising translation professionals.

But  why today - September 30th?

Well, today is a celebration of St. Jerome,  who is considered the patron saint of translators.

ThursdayJerome lived in the early part of the first century - born it's thought around AD342 or AD 347. He died on this day - September 30th - in the year AD420.

Jerome was a Christian priest, theologian and historian. He is best  known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate) but he also wrote other commentaries on the whole Bible. He was also known for his teachings on the Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centres such as Rome in his time.  Interesting point -  he often focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This came about because he was close to several female 'ascetics' from affluent families. 

His contribution to Christianity is so appreciated that Jerome is recognised as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.

Today is Jerome's 'feast day' and also ... since 2017 ... a date set aside by the United Nations as the day when we recognise the role of professional translation and translators in connecting nations.  Apart from encouraging us all to celebrate their contribution, the United Nations today also stages an annual St. Jerome Translation Contest for translations in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and German.

I first saw translators in action when I lived in Africa - people translating sermons in church services without notes, just responding to what was being said from the pulpit! I've also seen translators work at conferences and that's amazing. They have to be so quick-thinking and alert, and the ability to listen to one language and simultaneously translate into another is a wonderful skill.

Helping others to communicate, to break down the barriers between nations and peoples, is an important contribution not just to relationships between individuals but also to peace and understanding in the world. 

Sometimes we think, arrogantly, that those who don't understand or speak OUR language must be somehow lacking. And I'm not just talking about French, Spanish, English ... or Swahili or any other 'lingo'! We expect them to be like us, act like us, fit in to our agenda - to 'speak our language' in lots of respects. And that means we may miss out on the diversity of difference. When we don't try to understand where people are coming from, let alone their actual words,  that's a shame.

So today, as we celebrate those brilliant people who help to actually translate conferences, and meetings and correspondence so that everyone is aware of what others are saying and thinking and imagining,  let's also ask ourselves whether we are making the most of our personal communications and interactions with others. Are we deliberately not attempting to understand others? Or is it just we're not paying enough attention or can't be bothered to put in the effort to see another person's viewpoint? 

If we are in danger of our relationships getting 'lost in translation',  let's determine to be better communicators, to work harder to understand other people's viewpoints.

Language is very important. Let's use our words wisely and understand the impact negative sentiments may have on another person. Positive words and actions can make us and others feel great and that sort of positivity is contagious. 

And if you do fancy learning another language ... well, why not give that a go as well?

What language might you learn?

Now that's a question.

 

 

 

 


Do Small Things with Great Love

There are some people who are just iconic. Legendary! 

I'm sure you can think of a few ... for me they may include Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Neil Armstrong  ... that's an eclectic mix but you know what I'm talking about.

People who are not just famous for what they did, what they wrote or who they were but also because they are ... or were ... just outstanding members of the human race. Yes, they are part of the history books or will be in the future, but it's more than that.

Not all iconic people have lived 'good' lives ...sometimes they are notorious for leaving behind a dark legacy ... let's think of Jack the Ripper for instance or similar serial killers ... these are people who become legends for all the wrong reasons.

But MY list of people who I consider to be 'icons' don't include those guys ... I'm more interested in those who made a real difference to their times and cultures, and those who  left or who will leave a real legacy of positivity.

One of those at the top of my LEGENDS list is a woman who in her time lived a very humble life but who made an incredible impact on the world ... not just on the people around her but also those who looked to her as an example of love and faith.

Today I celebrate the birth and life of Mother Teresa - Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

Born on this day - August 26th - in the year 1910, in Albania, Mary Teresa Bojaxhiu would grow up to be a world icon ... but actually she lived a very quiet and compassionate existence which was all about OTHERS. An indication of her religious life and the importance of it to her is the fact that ... so I read ... Mother Teresa actually considered August 27th to be her 'true birthday' because that was the day she was baptised into the Roman Catholic faith, aged just one day.

Please click on the link to her name above to find out more about this amazing woman, but I just want to say that very early in life she became fascinated by the stories of the lives of missionaries, especially in India, and by the age of 12 she became determined to commit herself to a religious life.

In 1928 at the age of 18 she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham in Ireland, with the intention of learning English to help her with her aim of becoming a missionary ... English was the language of instruction of the Sisters of Loreto in India.

Just a year later she arrived in India where she trained as a nun ( actually in Darjeeling, in the lower Himalayas). Here she learned Bengali and taught at a school. When she took her religious vows in May 1931, she chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries.

Her life and mission and Christian ministry would be India. By 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation that by 2012 had over 4,500 nuns and was active in 133 countries.  The congregation and order runs homes for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. In addition, they also run orphanages and schools, soup kitchens, mobile clinics and dispensaries and children's and family counselling programmes.

Vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience define the lives of the nuns, but to this is added a fourth profession of faith - to  give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor."

Even though I'm not a Roman Catholic, growing up I was aware of Mother Teresa and the work she did, especially in the city of Calcutta (now renamed Kolkata) in West Bengal in India.  For me she was always the epitome of love. She worked with the 'poorest of the poor', advocated on their behalf and loved them unconditionally.

Mother Teresa

There are many quotes attributed to Mother Teresa.

She apparently once said '

"By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus."

She gave her entire life really to service in the name of Jesus Christ.  Her own needs and desires and wishes cast aside to enable her to think of others before herself and  just love.

And I think one of my favourite Mother Teresa quotes is this one ... .

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."

When you look at the words, the depth of meaning grows over time.

We might all want to 'change the world' ... some of those on my list of Icons at the start of this blog did just that!

But that wasn't what Mother Teresa was about. She was just walking one day at a time, looking for the need around her, helping where she could. Just making small differences which, in the end, would change lives.

The discarded babies she saved from dying on the streets, the people she and her nuns fed every day, the families counselled and cared for, the hands of people dying from AIDS or leprosy held in love, the many many thousands who still, today, receive free medical treatment courtesy of the Missionaries of Charity, the children saved from conflict and natural disasters - yes she did leave India from time to time to help in other situations.

Each person's life altered, made more comfortable. Hope given. Friendship and love shared. 

That's beyond measure!

And then there's her legacy of devotion and Christian faith. THAT is also something that can't be measured.

So today, as we celebrate the life of Mother Teresa, perhaps we can remember this one thing.

No action done in love is wasted. We might not change laws or move mountains, or even receive rewards,  but today ... if we do just one act of love for another ... we might just change their circumstances, make it easier, give them hope and surround them with the knowledge of love! 

 


You May Choose

There's a saying that goes something like this ... 

'Once you see something, you can't unsee it" 

It's usually used to describe that feeling when you see something that maybe is rather unattractive or makes you feel a bit strange and 'iffy'. Once the image is imprinted on your memory, you can't forget it.

But today I'm thinking about that phrase in a slightly different way.

It was on this day - August 24th - in the year 1759 that a child called William Wilberforce came into the world. 

He would grow up to achieve something that would literally change the world for millions of people in his time and beyond.

William Wilberforce  was a British philanthropist and politician. A year after becoming an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Yorkshire in the north of England, he became an evangelical Christian, which led to major changes in his lifestyle and the beginning of a lifelong passion for reform. Although he had been interested in the faith as child, in 1785 he committed his life to God and so began a journey which would eventually result in his becoming a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

At the time religious enthusiasm was viewed rather sceptically in 'polite' society. Many people went to church on a Sunday but their Christian faith didn't really go much further than that. Many would never have considered that what they did on a Sunday should affect the rest of their lives. Indeed many of those who were involved in the Atlantic slave trade - those who either directly owned slaves or indirectly benefitted from the slave trade in goods like sugar - would have considered themselves as 'Christians'.

Slavery was not a new phenomenon. Throughout human history there is evidence that people have been involved in enslaving others to do their dirty work, and to enrich themselves. If you 'own' a slave you don't have to pay them, and you can treat them any way you like.  Ancient civilisations are known to have had slaves... apart from anything, it was an excellent way to control others and to dominant your society and culture.

The British became involved in the slave trade during the 16th century. By 1783, the triangular trade route that took British-made goods to Africa to buy slaves, transported the enslaved to the West Indies, and then brought slave-grown products like sugar, tobacco, and cotton to Britain, represented about 80 percent of Great Britain's foreign income. It was big business, British ships dominated the slave trade, supplying other colonies ... not just British but also French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese ...and at its peak British slave traders carried forty thousand enslaved men, women and children across the Atlantic in horrific conditions. In fact, of the estimated 11 million Africans transported into slavery at the height of the trade, about 1.4 million died during the voyage. Appalling!

The British campaign to abolish the slave trade really began in earnest in the 1780s with the establishment of the Quakers' anti-slavery committees, and their presentation to Parliament of the first slave trade petition in 1783.  It was in that year that Wilberforce, while dining with his old Cambridge University  friend Gerard Edwards, met Rev. James Ramsay, a ship's surgeon who had become a clergyman on the island of St Christopher (later St Kitts) in the Leeward Islands, and a medical supervisor of the plantations there.

Ramsay shared what he had seen of the conditions endured by slaves at sea and on the plantations.  Where many people thought the British were bringing Christianity and moral improvement overseas, they realised that it was just the opposite when they heard Ramsay's accounts especially of the way that depraved plantation owners cruelly treated their slaves, fellow human beings.

It took a few more years and more fact gathering and conversations with many powerful men, including a future Prime Minister of Great Britain, William Grenville but eventually Wilberforce committed himself to the anti-slavery movement.

Wilberforce's involvement in the abolition movement was motivated by a desire to put his Christian principles into action and to serve God in public life. As he read his Bible, prayed, discerned what God might be saying to him, and mixed with other fervent Christians, he came to the conclusion that faith needed to be with him every moment of the day. He was convinced of the importance of religion, morality and education and he believed faith should affect not just his thinking and personal life and behaviour but even his political work and ambition.

As well as the anti-slavery movement, William Wilberforce got involved in lots of moral campaigns including the Society for the Suppression of Vice, British missionary work in India,  the foundation of the Church Mission Society, and even the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He also supported the creation of a free colony in Sierra Leone in Western Africa. In fact, he was often accused of ignoring injustice at home in England while campaigning for enslaved people outside of his own county.

It was in May 1789 that William Wilberforce delivered his first major speech against the slave trade but it would be many years before he would see slavery abolished.

In March 1796 he was crushed when the Anti-Slave Trade Bill was first narrowly defeated in the British Parliament and it wasn't until February 1807 that the bill finally made it through and was passed into law the following month.

But that wasn't the end of it.

That just stopped the slave TRADE. It was not until July 26th 1833, just three days before William Wilberforce's death at the age of 73, that the British parliament passed the bill which abolished slavery in the British Empire - the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. He had been retired for about eight years but continued campaigning until the end.

Now back to my opening thought. Once you have seen something you can't 'unsee it'.

Wilberforce quoteWilliam Wilberforce said something similar about injustice, brutality,  exploitation, prejudice and the suppression of human rights.

'You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know'

We can live our lives oblivious to the difficulties that others are subjected to including the conditions of those still living in what we call 'modern slavery'. Yes, there are still those living enslaved lives including in the sex trade, in agriculture and forced labour of other kinds. Millions upon millions across the globe still live under these restrictions and often the conditions are appalling as they are unable to come and go, and are often treated very badly by those who make money out of them.

What Wilberforce was saying was that ... although we may remain unaware of such things because they don't affect us personally ... once we ARE aware of them, we can't remain oblivious! 

People like Wilberforce and many campaigners even today believe that once we are aware, our conscience or maybe even our faith, impels us to action. We can't just go back into our 'not knowing' mindset. We can't 'unsee' what we now know to be true.

These days we like things to happen quickly, but as William Wilberforce discovered, righting a wrong might take many years. We might have to work a lifetime to see those injustices made right, but once we are aware of what needs doing, our resolve should remain strong. 

And once we see injustice happening, we can't 'unsee' it. 

But ultimately, the question is ... are we doing anything about it?

 

 

 

 

 


In His Hands

Life is a Roller Coaster - there's a pop song which expresses that sentiment isn't there? 

And it's true! 

Ups and down, valleys and mountain tops. And life can change very quickly. One minute things are going along nicely, then something can happen which changes not just the present but the future - illness, bereavement, new opportunities, unexpected meetings. 

I've been thinking a lot about that recently. 

Sometimes the change is of our own making, and we can plan the transition from one phase to another, but at other times life is beyond our control.  

Stuff Happens.

It's Sunday so I'm having a spiritual thought or ten, and I'm encouraged by the fact that whatever life might throw at me I believe I'm not on my own.  My Christian faith reassures me that wherever life might take me, God is there, even if I don't always take notice of him. Even if he allows us to go through challenges, he doesn't desert us. And when we have joys beyond compare, he's also always there!

I'm in His Hands!

There's a great song which I think I have been singing all my life. It's popular in The Salvation Army church and the words are profound and encouraging.

Originally written by an American Salvation Army leader and musician, (Commissioner) Stanley E. Ditmer and the words are so deep and yet the message is also simple...

I'm in His handsI shall not fear though darkened clouds may gather round me;
The God I serve is one who cares and understands;
Although the storms I face would threaten to confound me,
Of this I am assured: I’m in His hands.

I’m in His hands, I’m in His hands;
Whate’er the future holds, I’m in His hands;
The days I cannot see have all been planned for me;
His way is best, you see; I’m in His hands.

What though I cannot know the way that lies before me,
I still can trust and freely follow His commands;
My faith is firm since He it is who watches o’er me;
Of this I’m confident: I’m in His hands.

In days gone by my Lord has always proved sufficient,
When I have yielded to the law of love’s demands;
Why should I doubt that He would evermore be present
To make His will my own? I’m in His hands!

The song is in the Salvation Army Song Book (Hymn Book) and in recent years another brilliant songwriter and musician, Phil Laeger., has  re-imagined 'I'm in His Hands'  to another tune, using just the chorus which repeats that phrase and reassurance over and over. The interesting thing is that although it's a new tune, those who know the original melody to Commissioner Ditmer's classis song  will hear that tune coming through in the third rendition. 

This is a piece of music which I've listened to often in recent years, especially as my life has taken different and unexpected twists and turns. Life hasn't quite worked out as I might have planned but then I've been given opportunities which I might never have had if I had got all my 'dreams' and 'wishes'.

I don't know where in your Life's Journey you are today ... but I share this with you, simply hoping that it will bring you encouragement, comfort, inspiration and peace.

Happy Sunday! And Be Blessed!

 


Peace Presence & Perspective

It's the final day of July.

So today I'm taking a little time to look back at the month which is about to close and to give thanks for all the experiences I've had in the past 30 days and the lessons I've learned.

And I'm looking ahead in faith to August. I'm excited!

I found this prayer online and I think it's appropriate for today.

Whatever it is you are needing guidance for right now, I trust you will receive it.

Whatever it is you pray for, I pray you will feel God's presence and assurance that you are not alone.

If you need Peace and Perspective in life, I trust you will find it.

And that you will see and feel God in all you do.

Be Blessed!

MONTH-END-PRAYER


All that You Do

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we were all just a bit nicer and a bit kinder to each other? 

A little less self centred, a little more considerate of others?

If you've been reading this blog for the past few days you'll know that I'm a bit thoughtful at the moment ... and I've been thinking about the world we create.

Kindness is a big thing for me and in fact I'm beginning to work on a project about that with a friend - more about that later.

But today, as I continue to think about my impact on the world, my influence and the world I want to live in and to leave for others, I turn to the Bible for ultimate wisdom.

In the New Testament in one of Paul's letter to the Corinthians he says this ... 

Do everything in love ! Love without stopping!

Those words come from different translations of 1 Corinthians Chapter 16 verse 14, respectively the New International Version and The Message.

In the old King James Version it's put like this ...

Let all that you do be done with love.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all did even a little bit of that. 

What a perfect thought for a Sunday especially.

 

In love


Send the Fire!

Today is Pentecost in the Christian church!

Happy birthday 1Which means it's quite appropriate for me to shout to the rooftops ...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

... especially to all those Christians out there! 

I know what some of you are asking - Why 'Happy Birthday'? 

Well it's because this is the day that we recognise the 'birth' of the church, that movement which started when the handful of  followers of Jesus Christ way back 2,000 years ago received the courage and momentum to take His message to the world. It's a BIT more complicated and theological than that ... but that's the gist of it. Please feel free to do more reading if you want!

Pentecost is celebrated on the 50th day, the seventh Sunday, after Easter, when Christians believe that Jesus came back to life, even though his followers and many many more people had seen him die, hung on a cross outside of the city of Jerusalem on the day we now call 'Good Friday'.

After that first Easter Day when Jesus was resurrected, his disciples, his 'Apostles', saw him many times over a period of weeks, not as a ghost but as a real life walking around breathing human being. He appeared to them among other things to encourage them that even though he would not physically be with them in the future, God would still be with them through his Holy Spirit. This meant that even though Jesus was no longer on earth, his message of love and compassion and reconciliation with God and our fellow human beings, would continue.

Jesus finally 'ascended' back to heaven - that momentous occasion is marked on Ascension Day - and ten days later, the disciples were back in Jerusalem celebrating the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Shavout), when they experienced something extraordinary, supernatural and empowering.

The fire of the Holy Spirit fell on them ... this is described in the New Testament of the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1–31).

This is what the Bible says happened...

Pentecost fireWhen the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit ... 

This coming of the Holy Spirit gave Jesus' followers not just the encouragement and courage, but also the power, and some of the skills they would need to take his message out, beyond what we now call The Holy Land, and into the wider world. It really was the moment when the 'Church' as we know it began.

THAT'S why Pentecost ... the coming of the Holy Spirit ... marks the Birthday of the Church!

Down the centuries, the Holy Spirit has inspired many many many millions of followers of Jesus to share his Gospel of love and compassion, and to make a difference in the world.

The events of Pentecost have also inspired many songs and hymns which not only tell of the coming of the Holy Spirit to our world, but also celebrate the changes that can happen in individual lives and communities when the Spirit of God moves among us. Those songs include one penned by the co-founder of The Salvation Army, William Booth,  who was a bit of a poet apart from anything else, which is a favourite for Salvation Army worship meetings, and not just on Pentecost.

The song was originally set to a different tune which is still sung in The Salvation Army but it was re-worked by a composer/song writer called Lex Loizides and has become a popular hymn across the wider Christian church and is sung especially on this Sunday.

So, to celebrate Pentecost, let's just enjoy this fabulous song ... here it is sung by the masses of people attending a Stoneleigh Christian Conference.

If you know it please do sing along.

Enjoy! and Be Blessed!