Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued this joint pastoral letter for Pentecost with Bishop Susan C. Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The two churches share a full communion agreement that includes joint mission work and a joint national meeting in July 2013. This letter is designed to be read in parishes on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.
Beloved in Christ,
Almost two-thousand years ago an anxious group of disciples gathered in a room in Jerusalem. Although they had had a series of extraordinary encounters with their risen Lord, they were hesitant to share those experiences with others.
Then came a moment of liberation. On the day of Pentecost the Spirit that Jesus promised swept through the house where they were staying and the power of the Most High came upon them. Their fears were banished and their hopes renewed. Despite the ridicule and the opposition of others, the disciples began to share the good news of God in Christ.
Moving outwards from Jerusalem, the early Christian disciples quickly incorporated many others into this new movement. The Spirit began to speak through them in the many languages of the ancient world and, through the witness of Christians throughout the centuries, continues to speak in the many languages and diverse cultures of our world.
You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes,
from the bondage of sorrow the captives dream dreams;
our women see visions, our men clear their eyes,
with bold new decisions, your people arise.
("Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness" by James Manley)
As we prepare for the fi rst Joint Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, we know that there are some who, like our ancestors in the faith, may be just a little dispirited as we face the challenges of our times. But just as surely as God's Spirit inspired the fi rst generation of believers, that same Spirit
is working in us to give us the words to speak to one another and to those who are seeking something-dare we say, "Someone"-to believe in.
Our coming "Together for the Love of the World" will be a visible sign of the Spirit working in and among us. It will be time to take counsel together for the common good of both our churches and for the common good of our world. It will be a time to set our fears aside and arise with "bold new decisions."
As we wish you blessings for Pentecost we ask your prayers for the Joint Assembly. May the Spirit preside in our midst and lead us in a yet deeper and broader common witness to the gospel of Christ.
The Most Rev. Fred J. Hiltz
Anglican Church of Canada
Bishop Susan C. Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Click here to download this letter as a PDF.