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The Bishop of Hereford.

Dear Friends,

May marks the end of the Easter season and the beginning of what is affectionately known as ‘ordinary time’ in the Church calendar. The pivot happens at the feast of Pentecost on May 19th this year. Every Sunday is always a celebration of the resurrection, so it’s hard to see what is ordinary about it. The events of the Christ’s death and resurrection are the turning point of history. It is a world-shattering event that means life can never be the same again. The book of Acts tells us how the disciples’ lives were turned upside down by it. In their grief at the loss of Jesus a number were considering returning to their previous occupations. Once they encountered the risen Lord, they decided to change the world instead!

However, it was not just historical events which changed things. It was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Christian faith has always been a supernatural one. In the struggles to fill rotas, find volunteers, maintain buildings and serve our communities we can easily forget this. If the Christian life was just a set of rules to obey, religious acts to observe and an institution to maintain, it would not have lasted very long

Trusting in the Holy Spirit to empower and lead is less safe than seeking to control events ourselves. Periodically in the history of the Church the Holy Spirit has broken through in ways that have upended our conventional way of doing things. It happened in the Wesleyan revival of the 18th century, numerous mini revivals in the church (of which some happened in our diocese) and in the great outpouring in Azusa Street in 1906 that gave birth to Pentecostalism. This is now the third largest stream in the Church today. In many ways it is hard to see how our current institutional predicament can be served by strategic thinking alone. I am praying for another (likely messy!) outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Diocese of Hereford. Only the Holy Spirit can give us the courage we need for the evangelistic challenge. Only the Holy Spirit can turn the hearts of those currently indifferent to Christian things to help see their need for the Lord. So, ‘Come Holy Spirit and kindle the hearts of your people with the fire of your love’. Today, we need that more than ever