The Holy Spirit and the Church

This is the first time in my ordained life that an Annual Meeting has taken place on the Feast of Pentecost. The main reason for this novelty is that the rules of the Church of England have changed. Previously the Annual Meetings needed to happen before the end of April. That was always a rather difficult thing to accomplish in view of the fact that Easter more often than not falls within the month of April. It is a mercy, then, that the legislation now gives us an extra month.

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The coincidence of our Annual Meetings with the Feast of Pentecost carries a weight beyond the practical benefits of having a bit more time, though. To discuss the governance and finances of our church life, to elect our officers and thank everyone who has worked so hard in the past year on this day of all days provides a helpful reminder that it is the Holy Spirit of God who makes the church the church.

Without God’s Holy Spirit, St Nicholas Church would be just another club. It would be, in other words, a group of approximately like-minded people with similar interests and a shared set of activities that united them. There’s nothing wrong with clubs. But the church is not a club. It is, in the words of the Bible, the body of Christ. To expand on that idea very slightly, it is the place where the reality of God’s life is encountered in the world.

That is an extraordinary thing to ask of any group of people – to be the people in whom God’s life can be met. If we were to try to achieve that without God’s help, we would fail. If we imagined we had achieved it on our own, we would be guilty of a terrible sin. The only thing that can make it possible even in the smallest degree is the Holy Spirit. That is why I say that it is the Holy Spirit that makes the church the church.

It can be easy to miss this truth when our eyes are on the Agenda and our minds are on the elections and reports that lie ahead of us. Somehow these do not feel like the most spiritual of activities. But we need to approach them just as prayerfully, just as humbly and reflectively, as we approach our worship and every other aspect of our life of faith.

So let’s take the opportunity of this coincidence to renew our prayer that we will be guided and strengthened by God the Holy Spirit in all that we do, including these meetings.

May God bless you all,