Is there anything quite like a golden English summer evening? I was fortunate enough to experience just such an evening recently on the evening before Pentecost. Here are a few musings about it …
The candles blaze gold on the horse-chestnuts in the evening sunlight. The cold, crisp air seems to make the colours more pure than on a warm day.
‘How can that be?’ I ask myself. ‘Why would temperature affect the clarity of light?’ And yet somehow it does -and I breathe in the cool air and release it in a sigh of contentment.
I am surrounded by gold. The bricks of the ancient homes glow pink, softened by the gentle light. The water in the village pond is daubed with a hundred, hundred flashes of sparkling light as the cold wind ruffles its surface.
The cricketers’ whites are tinged with colour – not from lack of using the correct washing powder – but from the golden light streaming from the sinking sun. There is a splatter of applause from the half dozen brave spectators hunched against the north wind at some feat of expertise on the field, and the dog, held tightly on its leash, dances with excitement at the sudden noise.
The churches stand, rock solid, their roots sunk deep into the soil. They have been here for generations. They have witnessed it all before: the light, the candles on the horse-chestnuts, the cries of the cricketers on the village green.
Now here, from our new vantage point, we can see half a dozen spires and towers that are scattered across the valley below. Each one is ablaze with light. And I whisper a silent prayer to God,
‘Do it again, Lord. This Pentecost, set your Church, your Bride, on fire with love and courage, to stand firm and strong; to speak out for you and for all those who have no voice. Let us, together and alone, blaze with your presence that the world may sit up and ask ‘What is it about these Christians?’ Let them seek you because of the flames you light this day. Do it again, Lord.’
And as the sun sinks and we begin our journey home we spot one more horse-chestnut. This one does not need the sun to set it glowing – for this one has coral flowers – coral candles flaming their glory for God – and I am reminded that God’s fire never goes out. At any time, anywhere, God is burning with love, sparkling with courage and his voice rings out loud and clear for those who have no voice.
Coral candles in golden sunlight light up his message to me.
‘I am here – and I will always be here. I am Creator and I will not desert my creation; I am Spirit, fire and light, and my message will never be silenced.’
And my heart sings with joy as the light fades and the darkness falls. God does not need golden evening light or coral candles, yet he gives them to us to remind us of his presence, his existence. He is here now forever.
Reassured by his blessing, I go home to sleep soundly, the sleep of peace. Tomorrow may bring fire, may demand courage; but God is here now and always, and his flame will blaze in those who follow him and set the world on fire.
Come Holy Spirit. Do it again, Lord.