Pentecost -“Let The Fire Fall”
–by Vickie Shepherd
“When the day of Pentecost had come, They were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound Like the rush of a violent wind. And it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, And a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, And began to speak in other languages, As the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Pentecost has traditionally been referred to as the birthday of the Church-but I would like to challenge that edict and present a new vision for Pentecost. A birthday would have to be the day on which the church was founded, or born, but clearly the day of our church’s birth was on the day that Jesus extended the invitation for Peter to be the founder or foundation of the Church. In Matthew 16 verse 18 Jesus addresses Peter :
“You are a rock and on this rock foundation I will build my Church, not even death will be able to over come it.” Nothing could be more accurate as this statement that Jesus made. Our Church has weathered many unseasonable storms and survived. So this still raises the question, what should this day of Pentecost be to our Church if it is not the birthday? I would like to propose that this is the day that Christ baptized our Church in the Holy Spirit, confirmation is one of the initiation sacraments, and Jesus gave our church His power in this initiation ceremony. When John the Baptist was asked if he was the messiah, he said: “No, I am the one who comes before Him, I am not even fit to tie his sandal strap. I baptize with water, but he will baptize with water and the Spirit.” (Paraphrased Mark 1:6-8)
Pentecost was a festival day for the Israelites, it was the Wheat Harvest Festival, and was held fifty days after the Passover. This is a festival and holyday that coincides with our Lent and Easter seasons as do many other feasts, holydays and days of religious observation in the Old Testament times. During Lent we spend our time in meditation and repentance to repair our broken relationships with God and others in our lives. The Israelites gave thanks to God who spared their lives and allowed them to be saved from certain death. He freed them from slavery, which is what we ask from God-to be freed from our old ways, which have kept us shrouded in darkness. When we accept the ways of the world around us, we are enclosed in a cocoon, which shuts out the light. Christ is the light that saves us from ourselves, he helps us to break out from the old life of enslavement to the master of deceit. Baptism washes our sinfulness away. The day on which our Church celebrates this harvest of souls is called Pentecost. Pentecost is fifty days after Easter; it is the day on which Jesus sent his Spirit like a wind from above to breathe fresh air throughout the church, to cleanse the stagnant atmosphere which had been trapped within the confines of the cocoon that had us trapped for so long.
After Jesus’ crucifixion all of the believers were gathered in the room where Jesus and his apostles had shared the Passover meal together just fifty days ago, (Mary, Jesus mother, was among the believers who had assembled). ” When all of a sudden a noise from above which sounded like a strong wind blowing ( see Genesis 1:1 ), and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw tongues of fire, which spread and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
It is awesome to think that Jesus had chosen this time to reveal to his mother and friends that he was alive and well. Mary must have been out of her mind with grief, Jesus chose to come to his mother first to give peace to her aching heart. Now he could be with her always. I can’t help but think that Mary had to feel the presence of her Son in a way that was so special and awesome that she would never feel the same again. Jesus had made it possible for His mother to be among those who were filled with God’s power that first day on which He “ministered” the very first Rite of Christian Initiation. Jesus the High Priest chose to baptize His Church and send a confirmation among the people, that his spirit will remain with us until He comes again in glory. He will then reign in His kingdom forever. The Trinity, once three distinct persons, will unify to become one being to govern over this kingdom which He has created and nurtured since the beginning of time.
What is our purpose at this time in our church? What is our baptismal call? We are called to mission, or action. I don’t mean as missionaries overseas, unless you feel that is your call for ministry from God. You should feel the movement of the Holy Spirit within you, or a desire to do his will. There is a time and place for you to do Gods work, it may not be at this particular time, but you will know when you are called. Something will feel right and God will find you in some way, you need to remember that God often works through others also. Pope John Paul II tells us that ministry will be carried out wherever the church exists.
When the Holy Spirit empowered the first Christians to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ to the world, they were given the determination and desire they needed to accomplish this goal. The Holy Spirit gave them the inspiration necessary for them to proclaim the Word of God and released within these new Christians, an energy they could access in order to defend that mission– they were ready to die for their friend and companion Jesus Christ.
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