Whit is early this year. Whit Sunday is May 15th and Whit Friday five days later. Look out for all the arrangements for the Whit Friday walks in the magazine and on the church noticeboards.
It is easy to forget with all our local traditions that the Whit Festival lies at the heart of the church. The first Whit was the day that the church was born. The coming of the Holy Spirit gave God’s power to people in a new way enabling them to continue the work of mission that Jesus handed over to them at the end of his earthly life; a mission not only in Palestine but one that ultimately spread through much of the then known world.
Over the last 200 years Christians from many traditions have divided up the work of mission into home and overseas. Overseas Mission was when we sent missionaries to far flung parts of the world. Home Mission was the work of God that we did in this country. Things have changed and are still changing in how we understand the church’s mission. At District Synod in April, representatives were reminded that we live in an interconnected world. Great Britain is now a very diverse society with peoples and traditions from many parts of the world. Events that happen elsewhere in the world can sometimes produce a reaction in British towns because of family links. The nature of the church’s mission has changed too. While part of it is still supporting Christians overseas in their work, the ways we share Jesus’ Good News to people are evolving. Wherever we meet with people of faith including those from other world’s religions, (in this country or around the world) there is much need for listening and understanding where they come from before we talk about Jesus.
God’s mission is ongoing work and at the end of May we have a great opportunity for reaching out to others at Uppermill Methodist Church, with the visit of the Knitted Bible. This exhibition with its knitted illustrations of Bible stories provides many good openings for speaking to others about our faith.
One final thought; the first Christians had a readiness to talk to anyone anywhere about Jesus. That same enthusiasm was shared by those who responded to John Wesley’s preaching in the eighteenth century. Do we still have that same enthusiasm and readiness? The late John Taylor, former bishop of Winchester, described the Holy Spirit working in the life of the church in this way:
The true church exists by being the inexhaustible fuel of the Holy Spirit's mission in the world.
Do we as a church want to embrace that role?
With best wishes