Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pentecost, commonly known as Whitsuntide

I had the opportunity between services to remind Pastor Stephen that today is Pentecost Sunday. The Anglicans refer to Pentecost as "Whitsuntide," which I'll define more clearly once I receive the weekly Beadle's Report from Alpine Anglican in my inbox. Hap's explanation will be much clearer than mine, plus we have all of "Whitsun Week" to celebrate anyway.

The Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (to be prayed daily throughout Whitsun Week):

O, God, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle reading is from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, starting at the first verse (from which I'm including only an abbreviated text):

When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance....

So today is the day in which we celebrate the coming of the "Comforter" which Jesus promised His disciples before His passion, death, and resurrection. And in those dark hours between Jesus' death and resurrection, I'm sure that His followers desperately needed comforting! Their hopes for a Messiah who would overthrow the oppressive Roman government seemed to be crushed. Their plans for an earthly kingdom, ruled by Christ, were gone.

The Gospel reading for today comes from the fourteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, starting at the fifteenth verse; I'll only include small portions of this long section just to show what Jesus stated concerning His Holy Spirit:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth....

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid....

So, on Pentecost, when the believers were gathered together in perfect unity [may it be so in Thy Church once again and forevermore, O Lord!], they received the "gift" of "comfort" that Jesus had promised to send them after He left His earthly life behind and ascended into heaven. Now we, too, can share in this gift of God's Holy Spirit as He indwells us, leads us, advises us, comforts us, and assures us of His great, perfect, and all-encompassing love for each and every one of us. In *NO* way do we deserve such a gracious gift, but He gives it to us despite our failings, our weaknesses, our waxing-and-waning faith.

He keeps His promises. He loves us. And we especially thank and praise Him on this day as we celebrate His gift to the early church and to each of us who believe.

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