Shaken not Stirred

16th May 2024

How do you like your Martini?
Do you even drink Martini? I must say I don’t, and don’t think I ever have. However, a friend of mine from many years ago had a penchant for a good Martini. He gave precise instructions on everything from the number and type of olives (three and green) to the brand of vodka and the degree of dryness. He was very much like James Bond – he liked his Martini shaken, not stirred!

I was thinking about him this week (knowing it was Pentecost Sunday) and reflecting that when we experience the Holy Spirit in our lives, the encounter often leaves us both shaken and stirred!

In the passage from Acts we read of ‘violent wind, tongues of fire’ and the emotions of the apostles are described as being ‘bewildered, amazed, astonished and perplexing’. Calm, peaceful, relaxing and gentle aren’t part of the Pentecost story.

My experience is that often when the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives (either individually or corporately) it can be discomforting – we are taken outside our comfort zones and it can seem that everything is thrown up in the air as new things happen. When the Holy Spirit blows through our lives nothing remains untouched and the structures, norms and routines we have got used to can be swept away. The Spirit is described as a raging force in that it burns away all that obstructs God’s desires. It’s like trying to stand still during a powerful hurricane or storm – you can try but it just can’t be done.

Whilst we celebrate Pentecost Sunday we need to remind ourselves that this wasn’t a one-off, single event that happened just after Jesus’ ascension. If that were the case it would be an interesting historical moment to read about and nothing more. We can know the power and experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives today (and every day). It is something to be experienced rather than observed.

I encourage you to open yourselves to doing just that this Sunday as we gather and celebrate Pentecost – to invite the precious gift that Jesus promised to his disciples to be given again to each one of us afresh; that the weariness and staleness that we sometimes know, might be replaced with the deep joy that is one of the signs of the Holy Spirit. That we too, might be shaken and stirred!

Revd Paul Bradish