Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Christian Church!

Today marks the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, called Pentecost--the day the Christian Church was baptized in the Holy Spirit and sent forth to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world that needs Him so much. People flocked to Him, seeking His peace, His love, His strength, His compassion, His holy Fire, His simplicity, His grace. And we still need Him--in fact, now more than ever. And Pentecost marks the day that Christ sent the promised Comforter to blanket us in His Holy Spirit and set our hearts afire.

One can read the origins of Pentecost at John Armstrong's blog right here: Feast of Pentecost.

On this day, after many weeks of overstrain and overwork, of being up half the night working, my body has finally waved the white flag and surrendered. I have abused it beyond its strength, so today I remain at home while the rest of the family heads out the door for church, trying to let my body rest while pain rockets. I still have work to do for my online Shakespeare class at Brave Writer today, but at least I graded the last essay for my Literary Analysis course yesterday and am now officially finished with that class.

So while I worship quietly at home on this wintry day, with snow threatening our little mountain valley this late into May (very strange weather for Southern California!) and icy winds gusting, chilling to the very bone, I pray from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

O GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to 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 Anglicans call Pentecost "Whitsunday" from the white robes worn for the baptisms traditionally performed on this day.

And the readings of the Epistle and Gospel I'll translate into the English Standard Version for ease of reading--I know not everyone adores the more archaic language of The Great Bible of 1540 used in the 1928 BCP:

The Epistle: The Second Chapter of The Acts of the Apostles, beginning at the First Verse (1-11):
2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

The Gospel: The Fourteenth Chapter of the Gospel According to Saint John, beginning at the Fifteenth Verse (15-31):

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.
Wishing the Church of Christ a very Happy Birthday and many, many more to come,

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