The fruit of the spirit

Bishop Mark Sowerby
Bishop Mark Sowerby

The forthcoming Late May Bank Holiday used to be associated with Whitsuntide and we all got 'Whit Monday' off.

Whitsunday, or Pentecost, when the Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, is a moveable feast; its date varies inconveniently from year to year with Easter.

The law took control of bank holiday dates in 1971 so that we always have the bank holiday at the end of May.

Well, you can take control of the holiday, but you can never take control of the Holy Spirit.

Traditionally the Spirit of God has been symbolised by flames, wind, oil or a dove.....all of which are notoriously difficult to manage or to limit.

Flame speaks of burning passion and compulsion and it spreads.

Wind is power and energy. Oil gets everywhere, loosening, penetrating and smoothing and the dove flies free.

It may be Christians who celebrate the invisible God at work in their lives, but they have no monopoly of the Spirit of God whom they believe to be at work throughout the world.

The passion that burns within people working for justice; the compassion of those serving people whose lives have become stuck or limited by one thing or another; the patience of those who negotiate peace between the estranged. To me, this is all evidence of the Spirit at work, in people who do not recognise it as well as those who do.

There’s a strong tradition of judging books not by their covers but by their content, of puddings by their flavour, the authenticity of something by its fruit.

The Spirit is not tied up by the Church or by activities done in its name and the Good Samaritan was a complete outsider.

Don’t be surprised if Christians even see something of the Spirit of God at work in your life.

The ‘fruits’ of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

We are praying to see more of this growing amongst all people, everywhere.

Thy Kingdom Come at Chichester Cathedral:

Churches are invited to the beacon event for Thy Kingdom Come, this Sunday (May 20) 7pm at Chichester Cathedral. There will be music, worship, prayer and stories of God at work throughout the diocese. Free booking is available through the Diocese website www.chichester.anglican.org as well as videos and other information during this time of prayer for God’s Kingdom to Come.

Archdeaconry Pilgrimages as part of Year of Prayer:

A Pilgrimage programme has been planned for the Diocesan Year of Prayer 2018 to cover every area of Sussex. As part of this, there will be Pilgrimages from each of the four Archdeaconries.

9 June: Archdeaconry of Chichester led by Bishop Mark and Archdeacon Douglas.

14 July: Archdeaconry of Horsham led by Bishop Mark and Archdeacon Fiona.

21 July: Archdeaconry of Brighton and Lewes led by Bishop Richard and Archdeacon Martin.

15 September: Archdeaconry of Hastings led by Bishop Richard and Archdeacon Edward.

Guidelines, transport and service details are available on the Diocese website.

New Priests to be ordained:

New Priests will be ordained into the Church of England on Saturday 19 May (2.30pm) at three simultaneous services taken by the bishops of Chichester, Horsham and Lewes. Congregations from across the Diocese of Chichester will join families and friends of the candidates as the women and men, all currently deacons in the Church, are ordained priest. Candidates will be ordained by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner at a service in St Saviour Eastbourne, whilst across the town at All Saints, the Bishop of Lewes will also be welcoming new priests to serve in the Diocese. At St Mary Storrington, a similar service will take place for other candidates who will be ordained by the Bishop of Horsham, Mark Sowerby. The Diocese of Chichester is currently encouraging more candidates to consider a calling to the priesthood and the Bishop of Chichester has designated next year, 2019, as the Year of Vocation.