JOINT STATEMENT FROM BISHOP IAN ELLIS, CHURCH OF IRELAND BISHOP OF CLOGHER AND BISHOP LARRY DUFFY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CLOGHER TO MARK THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
‘All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability’
- Acts 2:4
One of the great marks of the first Pentecost was the ability the Holy Spirit gave the apostles to speak across barriers of language of the works of God. The Spirit today gives the people of God the same ability to speak as one across all kinds of barriers and boundaries. We rejoice today that we can speak together to both our church communities and beyond with a common message of hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We are however disappointed that for a second year we are unable to mark this great feast by coming together for our Ecumenical Service of Prayer, as we have done for almost 20 years. This service allows us to give thanks and praise together to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Please God, next year this might again be possible.
Speaking together about the goodness of God across barriers is an important expression of the language of hope. This is so important as we begin the journey of recovery from the impact of coronavirus. There has been much suffering; the loss of loved ones, illness, financial challenge and isolation. We all need to hear the healing and strengthening words of Christ ‘Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest’.
During the pandemic we quickly realised how important communication is when we were denied those simple non-verbal qualities of close contact and touch. We discovered how much we need the warmth of the love of our family and friends. The telephone and internet became our key means of keeping in touch and we thank God for these technological aids that kept us connected. Crucially, we learned how much we are indebted to medical staff, nurses, key workers and volunteers who have communicated dedication, care and love to the community through their skill and acts of kindness.
We must continue to communicate the language of love and hope across all barriers and boundaries. It would be so easy after this long period of restrictions to move to despair and lose hope. Yet we believe there are signs of new life all around us in the vaccination programme and the good response to public health guidance. Let us encourage one another to communicate the hope that by God’s help, our common life will slowly return, and together seek his grace to renew our lives.
So we pray that the Holy Spirit of Pentecost may inspire us so that we communicate in our words and deeds the hope we have in God. May we as Christian people, speak of our belief in the transforming power of God, and by his Spirit to work together for the rebuilding and re-energising of our churches and society.
May the Spirit of God fill us with all joy, hope and peace.
+Ian Ellis +Larry Duffy