Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday in Whitsunweek

The Collect:

Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

I won't type out the Epistle and Gospel readings for this second day of Whitsunweek, but here are the verses:

Epistle: The Acts of the Apostles 10:34-48
Gospel: St. John 3:16-21.

So why is Pentecost called Whitsunday in the Anglican Church? Let's talk a little about Pentecost itself first. It merely means "50," and refers to 50 days after the Passover. It was considered to be the Festival of First Fruits, the best that we can give to God. And on that day that the Jews were to dedicate their best gifts to God, He gave them a most amazing gift: Himself, dwelling within the believers of Christ.

Spring brings new life: new life in nature, with flowers and the birth of baby animals, and new life in Christ as well. From the Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity's excellent weekly Beadle's Report of May 27: "In ecclesiastical calendars Pentecost is the seventh Sunday after Easter and closes Eastertide.... in ancient times neophytes were baptized at this time. From the white garments of these converts comes "Whitsunday," an English name for Pentecost."

The Beadle continues, "In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898) {we are told] that the origin of the term flows from Wit or Wisdom Sunday, the day when the Apostles were filled with wisdom by the Holy Spirit."

So there are the two possible explanations behind the Anglican term "Whitsunday" for Pentecost. Either way, we give thanks to God for the gift of His Holy Spirit that leads, comforts, and indwells us.

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