Do you ever wonder what happened to ‘Whitsun’? Younger readers may never have heard of it; older ones may suddenly realise they haven’t heard about it for a while. Well it still exists!
For those who don’t know, it is the 50th day after Easter Day and it is the day when the Christian Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit on to and into Jesus’ disciples. There used to be a public holiday as there is for Christmas and for Easter – the Monday after the Whit Sunday.
Well I guess two things really happened. One is that the Bank Holiday got separated from the day itself. Maybe it was inconvenient to have a Bank Holiday that moved around as much as Easter does. Anyway, the other thing that happened is that the Church changed the name back to the more original “Pentecost”. But it remains the day when the Church celebrates God giving the Holy Spirit to his followers.
Why is this still important? We live in a world where lots of people are searching for happiness and trying all kinds of ways to achieve it, often by the use of drugs: nicotine, alcohol, cannabis or harder drugs.
While many of us enjoy a glass of wine and find it relaxing we know that all of these can have negative consequences. Some people try a variety of self-help techniques which may be ineffective. But the experience of Christians down the centuries is of a deep joy that comes from coming to know God through the Spirit. The irony of that is that we aren’t happy because God takes away all our problems. Often when we come to know God more deeply we may find we are being called to take more on for God or to tackle other people’s problems but we may also then find that this brings us a new sense of pleasure or even joy that we are working with God to make the world a better place and have gained a new sense of purpose.
The day of Pentecost may have passed you by again this year but happily we can pray for God to give us the Spirit on any day of any year. May you all find the inner peace, sense of purpose and deep joy that the Spirit brings.