I get by with a little help from my friends – so goes a line from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds from the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album. (I will leave aside speculation of the meaning of the first letters of the song title).
I always think it is a good song for Pentecost/Whitsun which this year is the very last Sunday in May (28th). The combination of Niki our editor’s efficiency with the timing of our kind magazine distributors means many of us our likely to get our June mag before that Sunday. (Thank you to all concerned!)
Pentecost is about us getting a little help. Indeed, on the first Pentecost when the disciples were sitting around fearful, dazed and confused, what the Holy Sprit seems to have done is give them help to get out there, live as Jesus’ had told them and pass on the good news.
I sometimes wish I had the language to pass on the good news. The Christian faith is not about believing 101 very odd things before breakfast. It believes the world and universe is not here by chance – the force and energy behind it, which we call God, is one of love. Jesus shows that not only in word, but in how he lives and dies. And we are to show that love in our lives.
Which is where, if you are anything like me, a little bit of help is needed! Because actually, and in truth, I am often not very good at it. I have a natural inclination to put myself, my views, my needs first. That is true of almost all of us. And it explains a lot why society seems so challenging and difficult – because all our individual wanting our needs met, means we are always fighting over the resources available. I have a wry smile on my face often when around my intergenerational and large family: those who are wealthy tend to decry the level of tax they pay; those who are not, feel the wealthy should pay more tax. It is very rarely the other way round – and when those two views meet, all is not peace and tranquility!
So, I need help in trying to put others first, to be loving, forgiving, gracious and charitable. And in my experience that is what the Holy Spirit can be about – helping me to grow in those things. This is not claiming a magic box of tricks and part of the journey is getting it wrong and trying again. But I do feel reflecting on the love Jesus shows, and with the Spirit helping me know about God’s love and forgiveness and challenging me in the right sense, then at least I can try and go in the right direction.
Early June has my favourite saint’s day, who can help with this: St Barnabas is remembered on 11th June. He is known as the son of encouragement – because when the early church was struggling and sometimes arguing, he was usually to be found, brining people back to listen to one another and just working hard and loyally for the faith. And I too need encouragement – as we all do, trying to live good, decent lives and keep body and soul together. And as I get older and bits seem to fall off, I need more encouragement. The church should always be a place where people find understanding and encouragement in the trials of life, (and I am always deeply shocked when the church falls short of that). And I hope that is people’s experience – encouragement, care, support and love – in our churches here.