‘And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.’ (Acts 2:3)

A little earlier this year I was at a party attended by a group of pearly Kings and Queens. The Pearlies grew out of bustling street life of London’s East End at the end of the nineteenth century.  The street-traders had long decorated their clothes with pearl buttons, but it was taken to new heights by one Henry Croft, a tiny road-sweeper from St Pancras, who smothered a whole suit with dazzling patterns composed entirely of pearl buttons.

It takes a lot of effort to make the outfit of a Pearly outfit.  As well as the hours devoted to sewing on the buttons it is increasingly difficult, the women told me, to buy the big cartwheel hats.  It is certainly true that hats are not that common now outside big weddings and royal events. If you wear a hat you often stick out now and I have certainly had my leg pulled about my fondness for wearing my Baden-Powell hat or boater.

The sort of head gear worn by our bishops certainly isn’t mainstream.  They wear a seriously odd hat called a mitre.  It is a shield shaped hat that unkind critics have described as looking like a pretentious tea cosy or even the head of a glove puppet! In reality it is actually supposed to resemble the flames of the Holy Spirit, which rested upon each of Christ’s twelve apostles.

The Holy Spirit is the breath and the living presence of God which all Christians need.  A steam engine won’t go anywhere without steam and we won’t go anywhere as Christians without the power of God being with us. When a bishop wears his mitre he reminds us, as our local Christian leader that all that we do must be led by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we may experience the work of the Holy Spirit dramatically as the apostles did in flames, but usually it will be more subtle. The morning dew always arrives quietly and without fuss, but we certainly know it is there when the grass is made sweet and fresh.  It is just the same with the working of the Holy Spirit whose presence can work quietly in our lives.

Posted By: valerie

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