Church must reflect the diversity of the world - Archbishop

The Archbishop of York has used his Pentecost Sunday sermon to call on the Church to reflect the diversity of the world.

The sermon was delivered as part of the Church of England's national online service taking place on the final day of Thy Kingdom Come - the global ecumenical prayer movement that takes place each year at Pentecost.

Speaking from York Minster, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said, "God doesn't reverse the astonishing human variety of language and culture. God blesses it.

"We shouldn't really be surprised. You only need to glance out of the window to see that God delights in variety.

"We human beings – each and every one of us - are made in God's image – with all our differences. What Jesus has done in his dying and rising is make that into a new community, the Church, which is like a body, made up of lots of different, but equally important, members. It's the birthday of that Church that we celebrate today.

"By enabling us to speak about the Christian story in every language and every culture, the Holy Spirit not only affirms that all this variety is from God, but helps us understand and appreciate and serve the world in all its variety and difference.

"The Church should reflect this diversity and help every person to hear the message of the gospel in their own language. No one should be excluded."

The Archbishop made an appeal to Christians to accept and learn from the differences they see in others, saying this is how the Church could grow.

"Because the Church is a body where every part is valued and necessary, when some people are cut off or excluded - or where some don't even have an opportunity to hear the invitation of the gospel or are driven away by our failings - the whole body suffers," he said. 

"But when other people are invited in – as happened on the first Pentecost - the Church is expanded: not just in size, but in beauty and variety; and we even learn more about the beauty of God.

"For the God we worship is the one God who is known in the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit: unity and diversity together.

"We are told that the coming of the Holy Spirit was like a rushing wind. You can't see the wind, but you can certainly see its effects. So with the Holy Spirit.

"We can't see it, but when we learn to love each other and love God and appreciate our differences and live together in love, then God's Holy Spirit is at work."

The service was joined by special guest, CBeebies presenter Gemma Hunt, who gave a reading from John 15, in which Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. 

In a pre-recorded message, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said the Holy Spirit was "so central to our faith" and prayed for a "strengthening" in the Church's "effort to announce the Gospel in word and in deed".