A sermon given at Choral Evensong on the Day of Pentecost by The Right Reverend Chris McLeod, Dean

Text: ‘would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them’ (Numbers 11: 30).

I think it was 1986, and quite a few us from around the province went to listen to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu preach at St Peter’s Cathedral. Susan and I were members of St Hilary’s, Morphett Vale and the parish had organised a bus to take us all in. The Cathedral was full, so we sat with many others outside, and heard the service and sermon through a PA system. I remember very little from the sermon, but I do remember Desmond Tutu’s description of humanity as ‘The Rainbow people of God’. It struck me then, and now, as a wonderful description of the rich beauty and diversity of God’s people coming together to form a glorious multi-coloured rainbow.

I think I heard him talk, as well, about Pentecost as being the reversal of the ‘Tower of Babel’ (Genesis 11: 1 – 9). You will remember that God confused the people’s languages for building a tower to reach the heavens. At Pentecost this was reversed as each heard in their own language about ‘God’s deeds of power’ (Acts 2: 11). Whilst people heard God’s message in their own language, they did not lose their own language, nor their own identity. They remained who they were – Parthians, Medes, Elamites, etc. The Holy Spirit came to bring the people together while acknowledging their rich diversity.

We are at the end of the ‘Week of Reconciliation’, which seeks to bring conciliation between Indigenous and other Australians. Being reminded that the Holy Spirit brings unity in diversity is important for reconciliation. We are all different; we all have our own histories; we all have our own identities; we all have our own cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Many of us can trace our own genetic makeups back to a rich diversity of ancestors. We are all, in some way, in our very selves, ‘The Rainbow people of God’. Acknowledging this helps us to reconcile with each other. ‘One size fits all’ has never fit all, because we are just not like that. Human beings are beautifully diverse. Reconciliation does not mean being all the same, but it acknowledges the coming together of people of the rainbow. This is one gift, not the only one, but a very important one, that the Holy Spirit brings to the world and to the church. As the church we can celebrate this unity in diversity as an example for others to follow.

As we are reminded of this rich diversity that makes up not only the Church, but the world, we can acknowledge her majesty the Queen’s 70th anniversary as sovereign. Queen Elizabeth has overseen 70 years of rapid change. She, as far as I can tell, has shown respectful servant leadership of the rich diversity of nations that make up the Commonwealth. This comes from her quiet yet evident Christian faith. We could also say Queen Elizabeth was open to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit in her own life. Queen Elizabeth has modelled in her own life the power that the Christian faith has in shaping leadership that seeks to serve.


Lord God, bring us together as one,
reconciled with you and reconciled with each other.
You made us in your likeness,
you gave us your Son Jesus Christ.
He has given us forgiveness from sin.

Lord God, bring us together as one,
different in culture,
but given new life in Jesus Christ,
together as your body, your Church, your people.

Lord God, bring us together as one,
reconciled, healed, forgiven,
sharing you with others as you have called us to do.
In Jesus Christ, let us be together as one.
Amen                                                                         (Bishop Arthur Malcolm)