Pigeons and Pentecost



This morning (28/5/17) we met in the park under a wonderful weeping beech tree just by the river. It was particularly lovely to welcome old friends and so our opening litany of thanksgiving (see previous post) was especially meaningful in giving thanks for reunions. The birdsong that accompanied our worship was just amazing! Because we are apart next Sunday we celebrated Pentecost a week early!

In preparation for Pentecost check out http://proost.us/safespacePentecost.mov

After viewing the above we were each given a copy of Chris Goan’s brilliant meditation: Holy Spirit Mojo to inspire a time of personal prayer in the park.

There are rumours-

Like smoke signals blurred in the wind

They say

He is here

Not in metaphor

Not whipped up in the collective madness of charismatics

Not just politely suggested by the high drama of religious ritual-

Here, now

Should I hide?

I could never meet his eye

Knowing that the hidden parts of me will be

Wide open

How do I prepare?

I have no fine things-

No fine words

My shield of sophistication

Is broken

I am soft flesh laid bare

I am a fanfare to repeated failure

I am herald only to this



But the Creator wears no stately form

Wants no majesty-

walks gently

And has a humble heart

And is-



Stop making things so complicated

Start from where you are

Not where you would like to be

Not where others say you should be

But right now

I just want to warm your heart

It is not for you to cut a way into the undergrowth

Or make a road into the rocky places

Rather let us just walk

And see where this will lead us

All around you is beauty

See it

Smell it

Feel it

Look for softness in your heart-

There I am

Look for tenderness

And it will be my Spirit

Calling you to community

You are wrapped up in me

And I am bound up in you

We are held together by soft bindings

Like tender shoot and stake

Like earth and gentle rain

Like flowers and sun

Like universe and stars

Like ocean and rolling wave

Like fields and each blade of grass

Like trees and rustling leaves

There is only now

Rest in the moment and be thankful.


In each of the four gospels, the Spirit of God shows up at Jesus’ baptism in the form of a dove. But those glossy images of the Holy Spirit descending from the heavens as a pristine white bird may not be quite how it was. And maybe as Christian symbols go, it all seems a bit bland anyway.

The bird at Jesus’ baptism was more likely a rock dove, a species much more prevalent in Palestine. These birds are grey with an iridescent green and violet neck. Yes – you’ve guessed it… a pigeon. A pigeon? Though most of us have separate categories for pigeons (dirty) and doves (pure), ornithologists will tell you the names are interchangeable.

That means the symbol for the Holy Spirit is just a hair’s breadth away from a symbol of urban trashiness.  Pigeons are ubiquitous; they’re everywhere, forever leaving droppings on our pavements and windowsills, toddling around doing -not -very-much and even as I write this, I can hear one coo-ing on the roof. (Someone somewhere will have researched the average distance we always are from a pigeon.)

What if the spirit of God descends not like an angelic, pure-as- the driven snow dove, but like a pigeon; somehow always underfoot, routinely ignored, often disdained but in the very thick of life? What does that tell us about the nature of the Spirit and how do we respond?


Your Spirit;
present from the beginning
of beginnings,
present in the message
of the prophets,
present in provision
for your people,
present in the life
and words of Jesus,
present in the Cross
and crucifixion,
present in the church
that you empower.
Your Spirit;
within us, around us, behind and ahead of us
today and always



Steve wrote us a Pentecost liturgy for Bread and Wine


There are advantages to being 1,984 years old. I have always had some advantages even when they weren’t apparent. “The Bride of Christ” is what they called me. Really! And I was barely out of nappies then.
I have carried that with me though – in the difficult times. I have had to. Remember those dear Copts will you?
People ask what the secret is to a long life. I think they’re expecting me to keel over tomorrow. I always reply, “Taking a little wine” and they laugh! Not realising, I suppose, that the blood is that which gives everlasting life. Wine and a little bread.
I suppose that age lends a certain perspective. Highs and lows – leaven leavens unevenly. Some ground is stony. But we march still. Eyes fixed on the Bridegroom – he who laid down his life for us.
So take now the bread – for you it might be us, the body or his body. Let it nurture.
So take now the wine – for you it might be Happy Birthday wine, the wine of renewal and resurrection.
And so in our 1,985th year, let’s now go out with hope as our guide and with faith our firm foundation. May you and yours be entwined in the Trinitarian God. Amen.