Holy Trinity Church, Bramley

From the Vicar, the Rev'd Vicki Burrows

The Vicarage, 1 Birtley Rise, Bramley GU5 0HZ    Tel 01483 892109   vicki.burrows@me.com

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HOLY SPIRIT – THE COMFORTER

Words are slippery, fluid, unstable. We try to fix them, lest there should be any doubt about their meaning. That is probably why on solemn occasions we duplicate them in an attempt to pin the little brutes down. Look at the terms of the contract by which a couple vow ‘to have and to hold’ each other in wedlock, but not before the banns have been called inviting anyone to declare if he knows of ‘any cause or just impediment’ why the marriage should not take place. Then many years later (and one must hope very many years later) when ‘death doth them part’ the late lamented is found to have left ‘a last will and testament’.

To leave the terminology in the singular and unsupported by its partner might invite trouble in the future. Who is to say that those neat, tidy and, apparently well-behaved little words have, cause and will might not some  day scamper off, mix with bad company, pick up bad habits and quite alter their meaning, were they not kept in check by their companions hold, impediment and testament.

‘Comfort’ is a case in point. It used to be such a strong word, its sense linked to fortitude. When the bride and groom promise to comfort one another they are undertaking to strengthen each other in moments of weakness, not indulge each other. The Holy Spirit of God is sometimes called in the Bible ‘The Comforter’. 

At Whitsun the Church celebrates the occasion when the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles with such power that the room they were in shook as if a gale was blowing and flames of fire seemed to be flickering over their heads. Not a comfortable experience in the modern sense of the word.

Religion is often spoken of as a comfort.  And that is true. The Good Samaritan, who is Jesus Christ, pours oil on our wounds. But he also pours on vinegar. 

The disinfectant property of his healing love stings. Ours is not an easy calling. The language of Baptism speaks about dying and rising with Christ. Jesus himself talked about taking up our cross to follow him. Whitsun (Pentecost) teaches us that Our Lord is present in our lives through his Holy Spirit to strengthen our weak wills and embolden us so that we can live up to our baptismal promise.


Adrian Leak

From Nebuchadnezzar’s Marmalade Pot, 2017


Vicki is away 


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