On Friday morning I jumped in the shower and turned on the rechargable radio. But within 30 seconds of starting to scrub, the sound had disappeared. Because I hadn’t stopped to look at the display, I hadn’t seen the “Low Power” warning.
Have you noticed that on many smartphones, the little icon is green when you have lots of power, but turns amber and then red as your power is running out? There’s a lesson for us there. Today, I’m vested in red, the traditional colour of Pentecost in the Western Church. The red reminds us of the tongues of fire which fell upon Our Lady and the Apostles; it’s a colour associated with power. But in our age, it increasingly warns us of low power. Today, I’m looking out for red warnings of low power here in our parish community.
On the first two weekends in June, our Masses will include First Communions. If you’re a low-power Christian, you’ll decide that the disruption of having lots of guests is too much to bear, and you’ll go to Mass somewhere else. If you are a Christian filled with the power to love, you will make a personal decision to come, you will offer your seat to a guest if we are “standing room only”, and you will do whatever you can help the occasion go really well for all our children and all our guests.
On the first of July, we’ll have a special Mass where we’ll share the beauty of what we do on Sundays with people who don’t normally come to church. Who will those guests be? They will be the people you invite to come. If you are a low-power Christian, you will not want to invite anyone to come – you will be overwhelmed by objections.
- I’m not holy enough to share my faith
- I’m not qualified to share my faith with others.
- I’m too scared. People will judge me.
- I have no idea what to say. I might say the wrong thing.
If you are a Christian filled with the power to love, you will give invitation cards to your friends and members of your family, and you will encourage them to come.
My past experience tells me that many of us are in danger of being low power Christians. If I’d seen the warning signs on my radio, I could have done something about it. I could have charged it up. But we can do something even better than getting a re-charge – we can plug in to the mains!
If you tuned in to the Royal Wedding this weekend, you’ll have heard a sermon about the power of love. “There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.” Preacher* Michael Curry began by quoting words from Martin Luther King: “We must discover the redemptive power of love.” These are eminently suitable words for a wedding – but they are also words suitable for our church community at Pentecost.
What we are celebrating today is that God wanted to pour out on all members of the Church, the power to live with redeeming love – power to lift up and liberate everyone who walks through the door of this church, everyone who walks through the doors of our houses and everyone who walks through the doors of our lives. This is divine power. This is the love which transforms the world.
This sort of love has a price. It costs our time, it costs our comfort, and its costs our freedom. But God wants to help us pay the price. What is on offer to us is not merely an opportunity to “recharge our batteries”. What’s on offer is the infinite power of the Holy Spirit of God – an opportunity to plug in to the mains!
On one Jewish Feast of Pentecost, Jesus stood up in the Temple and said anyone who followed him would experience a spring of living water welling up within them.
On another Pentecost, just after Our Lord ascended into heaven, St Peter stood up and filled with the Holy Spirit preached a sermon that called 3,000 people to become followers of Christ.
That same power is available to us. In fact, God longs for us to ask for it. The Royal Preacher noted that human history is the story of how we have learned to make good use of fire – the fire of love! The fire of God’s love is not offered to us for our own comfort. The fire of God’s love is given so that we can bless others.
If you’ve been confirmed, you’ve already got a source of fire, you’re already plugged into the mains! But God still waits for you to throw the switch, to let that power flow through you. That’s why, in the Alpha course currently running, and in the Discovering Christ course we’ll be running in the autumn, there’s a retreat day devoted to the Holy Spirit, a day when you’re invited to open the floodgates to the divine fire which longs to love the world through you. St Catherine of Siena once said, “Christian, be who you are called to be and you will set the world on fire!”
Today is Pentecost. Today is our celebration of what God wants to do through you to bless others. There’s someone that God wants you to help on a First Communion Day in this church. There is someone in your life God wants you to bless with an invitation for 1st July. Power is on offer to you:
- God’s Spirit offers you inspiration. To whom will you give the invitation?
- God’s Spirit offers you wisdom. How will you make the invitation?
- God’s Spirit offers you courage. How soon will you make the invitation?
Today, make three decisions.
Decide to join the “Home Team” for First Communion.
Decide to Invite A Friend for July 1st.
Decide to ask God’s Spirit to give you the power to do these things without fear.
Tonight, I’m going to plug in my radio. I’m not willing to settle for low power. Are you?
* To give him his formal title, Archbishop Curry – but that raises the whole question of the validity of Anglican Orders. But I say this: while he’s questionably a bishop, he’s unquestionably a preacher!