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Anticipating Pentecost

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,  because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”
–Isaiah 61:1

It has been a few weeks since my last reflection. Study leave, combined with a very busy return to the office, and I suddenly found that I hadn’t written anything since May 11th! That’s a bit too long to wait, especially with everything that we have coming up in June and July. There is a lot we are anticipating, which is appropriate in this week leading up to Pentecost.

At the danger of excessively repeating myself, Pentecost is the most overlooked holy day in the Christian Calendar. Both Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, both feast days for minor Saints in the Roman Catholic calendar, get more airtime than Pentecost does. Then again, unlike Christmas or even Easter, Pentecost is far more difficult to market. How does one associate products with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Wind and fire aren’t exactly tangible commodities, and even then they were symbolic of the gifts of movement, and the spark of motivation and enthusiasm that God gave to the people to spread the story of Jesus. One does not need a lot of wisdom to know that giving children a gift of matches and a fan is probably not a good idea. So Pentecost languishes because we can’t rely on the external culture to help carry it in the same way that it still carries Christmas, and to a lesser extent, Easter.

Pentecost, like both wind and fire, are intangible themselves, and yet have very real results. They can be both destructive and creative forces. The early church, many ways was both: early Christians sought to break down the barriers that divided, and challenge the powers-that-be who had an interest in keeping things the same. They sought to include everyone, and the message of Jesus was able to cross over into any culture they encountered. There was a freedom that people in this time seldom experienced, and it was very welcome to people who had only known the rigid social structures. Pentecost was the event that convinced them that God had given them the energy to do it.

Happy Pentecost!

John

Upcoming Events

  • The Crusades: A Dark History
    • Session 5: The Third and Fourth Crusade and Beyond goes on Monday, June 5th at 7:15pm, John Crowdis continues to lead his latest seminar, exploring the historical military campaigns known as the Crusades from the late 11th Century to the mid-13th Centuries in Europe and the Middle East.
  • Spirituals Sunday!
    • Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 25th for our annual service of African-American Spirituals. More details to come!
  • Congregational Membership Classes
    • If you or someone you know would like to formalize membership with St. Matthew’s, I am running personalized membership classes as a way of exploring faith. I am making use of a United Church resource called “Jesus 24/7” which explores our faith using the New Creed that we say every week as a jumping off point. If you are interested, please email me, call me at the church, or speak with me directly on Sunday mornings.

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