From Chris Wakelin, Chaplaincy Treasurer:
When I lived in Nottingham, the local “Churches Together in Beeston” group one year organised an ecumenical event for Pentecost weekend. On the Saturday morning various “spies” had been sent into the local shopping area disguised as gardeners, window-cleaners etc. If you thought you’d spotted one, you were supposed to go up to them and say “Would you like a bucket of water poured over you?”. If you were wrong, you got a very strange look (at the least), but if you were right they’d respond “Yes please, I’m on fire!” The title of the weekend was, of course, “On Fire” and was a celebration of the birthday of the Church – though, as I recall, the afternoon event was rained on rather heavily!
This reminds us that with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Christians really are supposed to be “on fire”. Like the disciples at Pentecost we are to be woken up, ready to do God’s will in the world. When we are energised by the Holy Spirit, we feel more fully alive, our fears disappear and our “hearts burn within us”, as the disciples on the road to Emmaus discovered. Of course, for most of us, it doesn’t necessarily stay that way. The insights of St Ignatius of Loyola that were shared with us in the Week of Guided Prayer were that we go through periods of “desolation” (where we feel listless, lukewarm, sad) as well as “consolation” (where we feel enthusiastic, joyful, peaceful), but that God only allows desolation for a loving purpose and it will pass. Then the “Enemy of Apathy” (I love that title for the Holy Spirit) will rouse us and set us “on fire” again. As the Taize chant we sang on Wednesday puts it: “Holy Spirit, come to us; kindle in us the fire of your love!”