Sermon for Whitsun by Revd Peter Holman

Whitsunday 31 May 2020 John 14, v. 23-31
Dear Christian Community,
Imagine a large room with a round table in the middle. A white cloth covers the table
and on it stands a tall, white candle. Around the table people are gathered; they are
sitting in circles, several circles, one behind the other, fanning out. There are some
four or six aisles or walkways between the chairs, raying out from the centre of the
There is silence in that room, a focused, inward stillness, an expectation. Everyone is
looking at the candle flame. In a way it is the centre of the world. The light shining
there comes from somewhere else and seems to spread out like the rays of the sun. In
their minds eyes, the gathered faithful think of absent friends elsewhere in the world:
loved ones, family far away, people they have known in their lives; even those no
longer alive in our world. Through the power of the light and the thoughts everyone,
near and far, who is being thought of, is somehow present, linked through human
consciousness and love to the candle at the centre of the world.
There are many languages in the world, quite a number of them represented in that
room. Quietly, one by one, the people speak. Some sing holy words from ancient
scriptures, others recite a poem in their mother tongue, still others offer a greeting in a
tongue significant to them. The words seem to be drawn down the aisles. So many
languages. Everyone present is touched. Because we all understand the language of
the heart, the voice of the spirit of our homeland.
A warm feeling of deep understanding grows within, a glow that seems to stream
between our head and our heart. We experience ourselves not only as individual
people sitting there, each with his or her particular destiny and life-path, but as a
group, a whole, a community. We are a community of human beings who feel
something powerful flowing through us and among us and out of us. We feel so much
bigger suddenly, as though we could take on the world. We feel a strength and
courage in our heart that tells us we are capable of more than we thought. Because we
are gathered all together, we are a vessel through which the Whitsun flame and breath
can move strongly. We have an urge, a duty to take this spiritual substance out into
the world, to share it in whatever ways we find.
As we sit there in the circle with the Whitsun flame in our midst, we know that the One
the Father sent is there. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He who said “I have
overcome the world” has come over us. The One who said “This Peace with the world
can be with you also, because I give it to you” is there, breathing this Peace be with
you over us. There is nothing warmer, more comforting than His breath, nothing that
can give us more courage. He will dwell with is for ever.
Just as on the Ascension mountain with His disciples, we can feel how all are gathered
closely together. We don`t quite know how this can be this year, for we are still
disassembled. But in all truth we are gathered around His altar in His name. The power
of human thought and heart-warmth given us from on high are tools by which we are
in reality assembled for Whitsun. May His courage and His Word dwell in our hearts, so
that we may experience this and go out with joy and boldness to change the world.
Yea, so be it

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