Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: Speaking with One Voice

Pentecost (Whit Sunday)
31 May 2020
10.30 Morning Service

Revd Nicholas Mercer

Today is the Feast of Pentecost

It is known as Whit Sunday in the Anglican Church which is a variant of the word White Sunday

This was the reference to the white robes which the newly baptised wore after their baptisms

Baptisms which took place on this day in recognition of the Holy Spirit which descended on the disciples in Jerusalem

We heard the story, once again, this morning

The disciples were all together in one place when the Holy Spirit descended upon them

As a result, despite the different languages which were being spoken, everyone managed to understand one another

And those who received the Holy Spirit spoke about “God’s deeds of power”

As I was reading this story, once again, two aspects of the story stood out for me

The first was that the receipt of the Holy Spirit enabled people to understand each other, whatever language they spoke

The second was that the self-same Spirit empowered men and women to go out into the world and build God’s Kingdom here on earth

And, as with so many of the Easter stories it seems so relevant for our current times

It is an understatement to say that there has been political division in this country for many years

It is also clear that vast swathes of the country cannot understand the other

However, in the midst of this pandemic there seem to be some common voices emerging which all people do seem to understand

The first is that we have been abusing our planet

The renowned zoologist Dr Jane Goodall said of the pandemic

“The sad thing is we brought it on ourselves. We’ve been very disrespectful of the environment, very disrespectful of animals”.

Not only have we brought the pandemic on ourselves but if we are not very careful we will soon be facing another global crisis in the form of global warming

This pandemic has shown us the cost of failing to prepare and the damage that results if we ignore the science

May we find common voice to take radical action against climate change when this crisis has passed

Secondly, we need to address the appalling problem of social care in the United Kingdom

We have, all too often, treated the elderly with indifference and sometimes with neglect

We have not only failed to look after the elderly properly but failed to throw a protective ring around them during this pandemic

We could be accused of failing to value all human life equally

For the past decade we have wilfully ignored this burning problem

May we now find a common voice to look after and respect the elderly when this is all over

Thirdly, it is clear that we have undervalued many key workers in our society and particularly care workers

Care workers have been through the most horrific chapter and many are still battling to keep their residents and patients safe

Despite this, they are employed on shockingly poor contracts

They need, not only to be protected in the labour market, but properly rewarded for their labour

Care workers may not earn £26,000 per year but they are worth so, so much more

There are, no doubt, many more issues that need to be addressed but we do seem to forming a common voice regarding the ones I have mentioned above

If, in the spirit of Pentecost, we can understand each other better then we too can begin to speak with one voice

We must not let this crisis go to waste

And perhaps this pandemic can act as a catalyst in the same way as Pentecost?

It would be wonderful if, like those who were baptised on the original White Sundays, we could emerge after this crisis – robed in white like the newly baptised

And, like the first disciples, clothed anew, set out to build God’s Kingdom here on earth speaking with one voice