Welcome to the month of June. The Sun is warming, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the garden is growing. Coming swiftly after Ascension Day, 26th May, officially the 40th day of Easter (or 39 days after Easter Sunday), the month of June reminds us that we are nearly half way through 2022.
June is an important month for the church and community for two important reasons. The first Sunday of June is the Principal Feast, the Day of Pentecost. The first weekend of June (3-6 June) is also the national bank holiday in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Pentecostal Sunday, 5th June
We celebrate Pentecostal Sunday, 5th June, in memory of those who, gathered together, suddenly heard a sound from heaven nearly 2,000 years ago like a strong wind which filled their house resulting in tongues like fire resting on them. The Bible narrative’s language from the second chapter of Acts reflects stories of God’s appearance and affirms the earlier message of John the Baptist – that Jesus would baptise with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
Filled with the Spirit, the group of disciples began to speak in other languages. Peter then comes forward and, standing with the 11 disciples, addressed the crowd by saying the interpretation of the other languages were a fulfilment of God’s promise, described in the Old Testament’s Prophet Joel of the renewal of all flesh by the Spirit (or our Advocate).
The same spirit, which empowered the disciples of Christ empowers us. Our fears are banished and blessings are dispersed in our heart. Christians become risk takers as their faith in God grows in order to become positive examples, good neighbours with growing self-awareness. Yes, some of us do have our challenges, struggles and life can sometimes be imperfect. However, we persevere by faith knowing that “Joy will come in the morning”, so we maintain our trust in God.
So, for example, which Christian had the boldness to go to prison in China for 20 years rather than reject the gospel? Who shared the gospel with primitive Alaskan tribes (and built schools and resource them with cows from Liberia)? Why was it so important to re-intern the body of King Richard III several years ago in Leicester Cathedral after all this time? Was it safe to build Christian children’s homes in South Africa?
Nearer home, was it right for our Parish to introduce the Tuesday Club (in collaboration with Age UK) and Thursday Club for all village residents? Were our regular weekend initiatives for Soup and Roll and Cream Teas worth the effort? Should we maintain weekly Friday evening prayers for all village residents across the Parish? And who can forget the Diocese of Oxford’s response to Ukrainian families! The answer to these questions must be a ‘yes’ as an outcome of ‘inner witness’ of Christ becoming an ‘external witness’.
Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (3rd to 6th June)
The four days beginning 3rd June marks the national Platinum Jubilee celebration of Queen Elizabeth II for achieving 70 years of faith and service. A time for communities to come together with parties, singing the new anthem whilst involving everyone of all ages in acts of service. We come together as a Parish community in the Parish Room (8.00pm) the day before on 2ndJune via St Michael’s Churchyard for the lighting of the Beacon. This is followed by two special Parish Thanksgiving Services on Sunday 5th June: All Saints Church, Middle Claydon @ 9.30am and St Michael’s Church, Steeple Claydon @ 11am.
We appreciate Queen Elizabeth II, who is a Monarch, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and most photographed person on the planet. She is a senior citizen who works over 40 hours a week and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Queen’s remarkable life and service to nation and Commonwealth has made her one of the most admired people in the world. I had the privilege of personally meeting the Queen at the “Royal Celebration of Youth” event, 8th December 1985, Harrogate Conference Centre, and what a great opportunity.
As Supreme Governor, Queen Elizabeth II is passionate about her faith in public pronouncements and life priorities like the following: “Many will have been inspired by Jesus’ simple but powerful teaching: love god and love thy neighbour as thyself – in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose”.
It is interesting to note the common features in the Pentecostal narrative nearly 2,000 years ago and Queen Elizabeth II’s quote. Our faith remains at the core of such outcomes, which keeps on giving in the lives and stories of all from the Queen to all across our villages, county and nation. We should all be proud of that as we have a story to tell or share. I hope you are able to join in in these Thanksgiving celebrations as well as other services in June.
Stay blessed with love
Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons