Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: The possibility of the exceptional happening to us

Eastbourne has a rich heritage as far as its churches are concerned, plenty of variety, each with its own personality and style of worship. More than sixty of them in and around the town, so not always possible in fact to know how and why each came into being.

Pat Gibbs tells us about St Luke’s, Stone Cross, where she has served on the ministry team for the past three years.

St Luke’s was built in 1924, but was closed in 1976 through lack of use and was left derelict with large ‘Danger – Keep Out’ signs. During the 1980s, with new housing estates being built in the locality, it was decided to re-open the church, the service of re-dedication taking place in June 1988. The late Ian Gow, former MP for Eastbourne, was warden and his wife Jane the organist.

The Parish Centre was built and opened in 2002.”

History is all very well, but what is happening there now?

“St Luke’s is a thriving place of worship: a success story which proves that where the Holy Spirit is present the unexpected can happen.”

So the Holy Spirit comes into the picture. What does Pat think about that?

“I often feel that we treat Him as the poor relation of the Trinity! We give due reverence to God the Father and to Jesus the Son, which is right and proper, but the Holy Spirit, this ghostly, ephemeral character, what can we make of Him?

“We refer to Him often enough. We speak of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit when we repeat the Grace and we say in the Creed that we believe in Him, so what is the importance, the work of the Holy Spirit?”

Pat admits to becoming excited when she reads the John’s Gospel account of the Spirit of Truth who will teach us all things. “He transforms people’s lives. Remember those first disciples who were a disorganised and frightened bunch of individuals? They had been jealous, quarrelsome and unreliable before the resurrection of Jesus and they weren’t much better afterwards! But with the coming of the Holy Spirit all that changed. They worked together as a team at last. They worked and prayed as one body. St Paul says, ‘Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit given by God which lives in you?” (See 1 Corinthians 6, 19.)

Have we really grasped the significance of this fact? We are talking about the Son of God, the power of the risen Jesus residing in us. Either we can allow it to happen by throwing our lives open to the mighty rushing wind of God’s Spirit, or we can prevent it from happening by battening down the hatches to protect ourselves from this disturbing and revolutionary force.”

Pat is totally down-to-earth as she describes what the Holy Spirit is able to accomplish in the lives of God’s people. “We are told in Ephesians, chapter 5 that the Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits are the effects

of the presence of God. Whenever we see them we may be sure that the Spirit is present. The Christian experience is in a very large part getting on cheerfully with the ordinary, the routine, but without ever giving up on the possibility of the exceptional, the life-changing.

“So whatever we are doing this week, in employment, on holiday, doing the garden, looking after the family, or just trying to muddle through, we call on God the Holy Spirit to bless us with His dynamic power and so enable us to live creatively in His service.”