How often have you picked yourself up and started again?
How many times have you been (re)born? Most of us have at least once in our lives had an experience where we feel that we have had a new start, a new beginning or a new opportunity. It may have been our wedding day or our profession day. It may have been that moment when things turned out after all. The person I offended was prepared to forgive me. Perhaps it was the time I was able to get a second chance at a job interview. Maybe it was a new start in a relationship that was fading. A fresh start. Being born again. It is a good feeling.
In a sense each Pentecost is a fresh start and a new beginning. We celebrate it as the birth of the Church, if you like. That wonderful scene from the Acts of the Apostles gives us images of a new start doesn’t it? We read of a great gathering of people of diverse nationalities and languages all being unified by the one message which they all seem to hear in their own tongue. The proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus creates a new community. Those who gather in his name and around his story create a new community of faith. Faith that he is still alive and active among us. Faith that our own future is one of hope, light and life.
And we can each be born again in different ways. Is that why there are seven (at least) gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gifts us in different ways as is our need and the need of the Church. We celebrate the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit on this day: wisdom, courage, right judgement (good counsel), understanding, wonder and awe before God, knowledge, and reverence. Anyone of us could have an experience of being ‘reborn’ as we recognise and accept one or another of these gifts in our lives.
Perhaps today we could steady ourselves and quietly ask the Lord for a refresh in one of the gifts of the Spirit. On this Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the birth of the Church could each of us begin by calling on the grace of the Spirit in one area that we need to be renewed in our faith and our witness. Wisdom, courage, right judgement (counsel), understanding, wonder and awe before God, knowledge, reverence. We could be born again in any of those couldn’t we? What is it that you need, want or desire today? Perhaps we could pray the following prayer to help us.
You have blessed this ancient land
with many gifts, especially its people.
We thank you for the gift of Pentecost,
a time to start afresh from Christ.
You invite us to contemplate the face of Jesus your Son,
that we may experience a new wave of life,
and that the light of Christ may burn more brightly in our lives.
Attune our hearts and minds
to the presence of your Holy Spirit,
that our Church may be transformed,
our relationships be healed,
and our nation grow in compassion and justice.
With the intercession of St Mary MacKillop,
who showed us new ways of living the Gospel,
we make our prayer
through Christ our Lord.