A recent gardening programme on television visited a garden in Alnwick, Northumberland, where viewers, I'm sure, took great delight in wonderful shots of trees covered in glorious white blossom. What an amazing sight it was, and one of many examples that Spring is very much in the air with all its rich promise of what's in store. Trees and shrubs that have looked rather drab and lifeless for a good number of months are being transformed into something of great beauty and wonder as a foretaste of the abundance that's to come.
Not only is the blossom a tremendous sight, but we were reminded by the gardener that, once the wind whips up, the blossom would drift to the ground and cover the whole garden in pure white - almost as if it's snowed - so it's not surprising that this glorious sight draws endless visitors to appreciate its wonder and beauty.
Blossom is not only special in its own right, but it's also a promise that, in the fullness of time, fruit will appear in abundance to ensure at the end of the season that there's a generous harvest for our enjoyment. It's all part and parcel of the mystery and wonder of creation that this beautiful yet delicate blossom is simply the first step in a process that will not be fully realised until much later in the year.
It's not surprising that this image can so easily speak to us and make connections to that first Pentecost when the Spirit of God, coming as a wind to whip round the believers, cleansing and inspiring them to be advocates to the power and presence of the Risen Lord. Only a short time previously, they had been lost and lifeless, without hope, direction and purpose. Suddenly, through the captivating power from above, their lives became transformed into something of great beauty and possibility, covering the city with excitement and wonder, offering a glimpse of what was and is to come in abundance, and drawing people to witness and take delight in this revitalised faith community.
Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit is terribly important, and very special in the Christian calendar, as we recall the effect that the Spirit has on those that profess Jesus as Saviour and Lord. But it's also a promise that, in the fullness of time, fruit will appear in abundance to ensure that at the end of all time, there will be a generous harvest as a blessing for all God's faithful people. It's all part and parcel of the mystery and wonder of creation, as well as God's involvement through his Son, that the gift of the Spirit is simply the first step in a process that will not be fully realised until the Kingdom of God is fully revealed.
In the meantime, the Apostle Paul speaks of the Spirit of God producing much fruit to encourage us in His Way and enable us, not only to be His people, but to contribute towards the harvest of the Kingdom. Such fruit is given in abundance to those who open their lives to receive of God's Spirit: love, joy, peace, tolerance, compassion, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-discipline (ref Galatians 5: 22). It is when such fruits of the Spirit finds expression that others are drawn to appreciate its wonder and beauty. As the song says: 'They will know we are Christians by our love (as well as all the other gifts of the Spirit).
Pentecost is a reminder that, with God's help and intervention through the Holy Spirit, we can truly witness to the Risen Lord as well as show signs of the Kingdom of God that is both present and to come.
May God's Spirit work within us to produce the kind of fruit needed for a rich harvest, as a promise of what's in store for us in that life everlasting, all to the greater glory of our God.