On the Day of Pentecost followers of Jesus were meeting together and they recognised and responded to the presence of the Holy Spirit. The events described in Acts chapter 2 are powerful and dramatic but at the heart of the story is response to the love of God revealed in Christ and it is a response shared by people from many different nations.
How appropriate then, that we expect Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas and others of many faiths to meet for prayer with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Sunday. The invitation is simply and profoundly to pray together.
Methodists will be celebrating Pentecost on Sunday. We will be praying together and with ecumenical partners and we will be praying individually. Please pray for peace in Israel/Palestine and for peace in other troubled areas of the world. Peace goes hand in hand with justice and justice and peace rely on the willingness of people to respect and listen attentively to one another. True peace and justice are the gift of God to those ready to receive it but being ready to receive the gift is not easy where conflict is deep seated and people are traumatised.
We do not yet know exactly when the prayers in the Vatican will take place, that is not important. But how powerful it will be if, on Sunday, people from many nations pray for peace. To help me in my prayers I will turn to Alan Gaunt's hymn which begins with these words:
We pray for peace,
but not the easy peace
built on complacency
and not the truth of God.
We pray for real peace,
the peace God's love alone can seal.
(Singing the Faith 719, Hymns and Psalms 413)