I have remarked before in these ministers’ letters on the strangeness of writing something one month which will not be read for another month. As I write we are approaching Pentecost Sunday – the birthday of the church – the marking of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit coming into the world.
Of course the Spirit of God has always been a part of us and a part of our story, right from the beginning of scripture where we read that the Spirit, or Breath, of God brooded over the waters. In the story of creation this image is one of bringing life. So too at Pentecost we remember the story of the coming of the Spirit upon those disciples who had known Jesus. But if we do not do more than mark it, if we do not celebrate the life-giving Spirit of God and pray that we too may be touched and inspired, lifted and transformed, then we have lost the meaning behind remembering. It is not an event just to remember from the past. It is about a relationship. Divine spirit meets human spirit and finds a union that brings life.
As you read this, Pentecost will be well behind us and we will be approaching Midsummer, usually celebrated on 21st June. It is the longest day – that is the longest hours of daylight – in the northern hemisphere. It is named the summer solstice because it is the time when the sun is at its highest in relation to the angle of the earth at the equator.
The Celtic community mark Midsummer as a time of thanksgiving for the earth which has been given to us by God to care for and nurture and nourish. Midsummer points us to the story of creation when God spoke the earth into being by the breath of the Spirit, and formed the earth and all that is part of it. God saw that it was good.
My friend Annie Heppenstall (author of The Healer’s Tree, and Reclaiming the Sealskin) and I used to run a series of meditations through the year based in the Celtic tradition of valuing sacred space, the sanctity of earthiness, and their place in our spiritual development. The meditations were named “Holy Ground”, a recognition that in all our endeavours and journeying to follow Jesus, the ground we walk upon is holy because of the presence of God.
How different would our journey be, how different would our world be, if people walked gently and with awe in the world that God has created for us and has given to us to tend - all things that grow, the soil from which they grow, the air we breathe, and the people who share it.
Annie writes: “To tend the earth with love, so that all thrives in a joyous wheeling of the seasons, is part of our human calling.”(The Healer’s Tree, p56, Wild Goose publications, 2011).
As we approach this marking of the year and watch the sun high in the sky, may we remember the Christ who is the light of the world, present at Creation, and the Spirit who continues to breathe life into us. Let’s be open to Spirit meeting our spirit, blowing away the staleness, tending our woundedness, and transforming how we live; so that the places we walk in the world are once again seen as sacred places in which God dwells.