“..suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven “ this is the feast of Pentecost..50 days since Our Lord emerged from the lockdown of the tomb..10 days since the disciples emerged from 40 days in a locked & bolted Upper Room, afraid of the Jews we are told, but in reality afraid of a future out of/after lockdown..6wks, it had become safe familiar different, & in spite of internal tensions & fallouts, they were self-isolating as a family unit.. & then..then..the Risen Christ left them holding the baton, holding full responsibility now for the future of the faith community He had died for.. ..they found themselves..found their real selves..on the streets, out of their man-shed, & into real life in a gale force wind called the Holy Spirit..
..like crows in our valley last weekend in gale force winds; two options ..hide in a tree & take shelter until it all calms down again, before they go out to crow again..or fly up into the teeth of it, as it takes breath away, up into the force of it, soaring like an eagle with views & a feeling you need to taste to realise..& life & faith will never ever be same again & for the better.. & pray where are you in this Pentecost moment?..in a lockdown, still sheltering from the wind & covid?..or out for some fresh air & lung fulls of grace truth & love..coming to land tonight, exhausted excited elated.. ..big choices, great opportunities .. a crow?..or a crow becoming an eagle? “send forth your Spirit O Lord..& we shall recreate the face of the earth..”
“..heal our wounds, our strength renew, on our dryness pour thy dew, wash the stains of guilt away..” ; Lord have mercy “..bend the stubborn heart & will, melt the frozen warm the chill..” ; Christ have mercy “..guide the steps [ my steps ] that go astray..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
I wonder if that gospel sounded familiar? it was shared with us 5wks ago on Low Sunday a week after Easter Day, when we got Pt 1 & Pt 2..Pt 2 is section we remember all too well, the familiar story of doubting Thomas; Pt 1 come historically on Easter evg, the day of the Resurrection, when Jesus appeared to his 10 disciples, less Judas & Thomas, & then, 8 days later, he came back a second time when Thomas had come back from his lonely self-isolation; first disciples 8days in lockdown, a lockdown extended by early Church to 50days..& now our lockdown 70days so far.. & albeit Our Lord gifted them/breathed on them/into them breath & power of Holy Spirit in two doses, Easter evg then 8days later, it took another 7wks for the re-invigorated disciples to emerge & begin real life to the full for first time..indwelling/empowered by the Holy Spirit..from Greek “pneuma” feminine dimension of Trinity, the womb space of divine, from which God gives birth to his most inner life, intimacy from deep within His being, he breathes out pure life & pure love onto us/into us..”pneuma” breath; pneumonia is the absence of breath..potentially fatal..the baby photo of all family photos, is of a new Mum holding cradling her new born baby, immense pride relief thanksgiving, feeling the breath of her new born on her arm, life & love from & in life & love, warm hearts, warm bodies taking in lung-fulls of air, warming it deep within their being, then breathing it out to warm the world with their contented presence.. ..so too our faith, as we breath in loving presence of Holy Spirit, the breath of God filling our hearts with divine love, a love/grace we season into our words prayer & action, to help re-create the face of the earth & the life of our families..like bread making, smallest ingredient makes all difference to taste of the loaf..yeast..knead the grains in, turning the dough time & time again, to mix in fistfuls of fresh air as you breathe life into it, then patiently leave it to one side in warm consistent place to let it prove..proof aeration where the mix gradually rises containing breath of the divine, soon to homebaked with flavour all of its own..the family loaf..”give us this day our daily bread”..2yrs ago I went into St Benedict’s PS into Yr 5&6 to find they were looking at role models “who is your role model Fr Bede?” a leading question in need of an immediate wise response “Mary Berry” I said; knew her but wanted to know why?..explained she was a very good cook, judging others cooking on Bake Off; what I liked about her was that had a lovely way of praising cook who’d got it wrong, she always found something to praise them for..she seemed like an ideal grandma..the children beamed in delight..a Holy Spirit moment be sure..then into Yr 3&4 to same question, & after Mass following Sunday, parents coming out to tell me all about Mary Berry, recreating the faces & hearts of children teachers parents & parish through a grain of yeast..”peace be with you”..& the childrens answers these last 2wks to my questions on Noah’s Ark you have been reading in Outreach; one child in Mr Jakob’s class replying to my question “if you could take one animal into your Ark with you which would you choose & why?” wrote “I would like to take a dog because they are really kind & I like them. Actually”, clearly after a second thought a Holy Spirit moment, they said “I would take the two animals, one kind & one the mean one, because the kind one is an example to the mean one, to be kind to others.” “peace be with you..as the Father sent me so am I sending you” a few grains of yeast sprinkled in an email to our children, mixed with story of Noah, his lockdown & now our lockdown, & look & listen to what emerges..bread with a taste to die for, freshly baked in what looks to some from outside to be an ordinary family..at home in School & in our Parish..well think look pray & listen; ”Good with some Outstanding features” now under influence of the Holy Spirit.. few days ago I visited Desert Island Discs to listen to Kirsty Young interviewing Mary Berry in 2012..in this extraordinary time when we are living in family lockdown, & on Pentecost Sunday, with its spirituality of intimacy, where we are reminded of our blessed relationship with, & indeed in, the Trinity through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there is much familiar family expressions & connections for us to acknowledge & celebrate in her story..she talks of baking with her children making her a better mother; “even my famous sponge cake can sink if I open the oven door at the wrong time”. She remembers her own childhood family meals when “we would all sit round the table, & with tummy’s full, the children would start to tell their stories. Plan it once a week she advises, a great way of communicating” [ we might see it/you as the Body of Christ, taken blessed broken shared at family meal table in your homes, in anticipation of the time we gather again for our family meal round our altar in Our Lady & St Benedict’s & Our Lady & the Holy Angels ]. She told of her son William who died in car crash age 19. He had come home from University the night before, borrowed the car to go for “the Times” with his sister Annabel. He didn’t come back. Baking became a therapy, keeping her busy, bringing the family together, keeping him, & always, very much part of the family. At Funeral played his favourite song “Sailing” by Rod Stewart, which Mary included as a piece in her Desert Island Discs. [ & last Sunday, having prayed & shaped this homily earlier in the day, I was typing it up on Sunday afternoon, listening to R2 Johnnie Walker, & as I typed in this story of Mary’s of “Sailing”, who should Johnnie Walker play on request at that very moment, 340pm, but Rod Stewart with “Sailing”..what do you make of that I wonder? ] She spoke warmly of the Great British Bake Off, all amateur bakers, all genuine, no dramatic music, very English, nice & proper trying to do a good job, a baking lesson in disguise. The cardinal sin was for her, the famous “soggy bottoms”; avoid it by “baking blind, nice thin pastry, dry it out then put ingredients in.” on the finished article, “size didn’t matter, nor imperfections, as long as it tasted good”. I hope you have seen & appreciated many of the facets of your life & faith in family, both at home & in our parish, the gifts of the Holy Spirit alive well & at work & in person, breathed into our daily ongoing journey, only & always “together”, towards the due north we call God.. ..& if one of your Herdwicks at home asks you from a distance “what has Fr Bede been talking about in his homily this weekend?” tell them “soggy bottoms”!..& share a beamer of a smile..another gift of the Holy Spirit, a breath of fresh air!.. “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love, send forth your Spirit & they, we & you, will recreate the face of the earth”, & our valley.. [ Pentecost Sunday ; Jn 20;19-23 ]