Reflection for the Day of Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is the 50th day after Easter, a time when the Holy Spirit came to the first disciples and when Peter addressed the crowd drawn by what was happening. The event in Acts is a great contrast to what happens in the Gospel of John when Jesus appears to his frightened followers on the day of resurrection, simply breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus also gives them power to forgive sin, an amazing advance for his fallible followers who so often misunderstood, denied and forsaken him.

By contrast, rather than the breath of the Holy Spirit, the noise of a rushing, mighty wind is heard in Acts, a noise so loud it fills the entire house where the disciples are. Tongues, as of fire, confer the Holy Spirit on the disciples who begin to speak in a different language which can be understood by the crowds from many nations who have gathered outside, amazed that they can each understand what is being said.

The effect on the disciples is immediate – they leave their safe place and Peter’s sermon to the crowd testifies that, “Everyone who believes in the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The work of the church has begun!

The account in John’s Gospel spends only four verses in describing the coming of the Holy Spirit with the rest of chapter two being given to Peter’s address. There is no time to ponder what has happened – but now, rather than the disciples who are bewildered, disbelieving and astounded, it’s the crowd that struggles to understand and even thinks the disciples may be drunk. The gift of the Holy Spirit means that the disciples have become witnesses as Jesus had said. They know how much they have been forgiven and now they have the power to forgive others – Peter’s sermon urges those who listen to him to repent and John tells us that many wonders and signs happened, with people sharing their possessions and their food as a new way of life began.

And so it is for us because, whether we have a Christian faith or not, we also have power. Power to make a difference to our own lives and the lives of others. Power to forgive when we could condemn. Power to find common ground rather than look for separation. Or not, as illustrated by the power issues being played out in the ongoing dispute about presenters on ITV’s This Morning.

Melangell, as a woman of her day, didn’t have power – or did she? Being born into a wealthy family conferred status and leaving her family, choosing so different a way of life and living on her own shows a determined mind set, one that took action for change rather than just longed for things to be different. Melangell certainly showed the soft power so often talked about in political circles in the face of possibly escalating conflict with Prince Brochwel and both draw the best from each other as the valley becomes a place of sanctuary, healing and hospitality through Brochwel’s generosity in giving Melangell this part of the valley to build a church and, as sisters join her, a community is established of which she becomes abbess. Power in so many forms making a difference to lives then and today –  the power of love, the power of Pentecost and the breath of life itself.

Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit, the gift of love, and the power to make a difference for good in our generation as did Melangell and Brochwel in theirs.

With my prayers; pob bendith,
Christine, Guardian.