Saturday, September 11, 2021
Saturday, May 22, 2021
|An Eastern Orthodox icon of the Christian Pentecost. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world. (Source: Wikipedia)|
A re-post from the Archives as I attempt to keep up with my wonderful Brave Writer families and students in Literary Analysis: Shakespeare's Twelfth Night...
I just do not understand something. Why don't evangelical churches celebrate Pentecost? Because of COVID, we are still not yet attending church "live" but instead, I worship via Zoom with Blessed Trinity Anglican. Thus, I have no idea if this year was different and Pine Valley Community Church celebrated Pentecost during the church service. I hope so! It breaks my heart not to attend, but until we feel all clear with several of us having autoimmune challenges, I'll keep on Zooming.
Scripture tells us that the Gift Jesus promised His disciples has arrived at Pentecost: the Holy Spirit. We read Christ's promise in the 14th chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, beginning at the 15th verse:
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.... 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..." (ESV).
Then on the Feast of the Pentecost, with Jerusalem filled with Jews from around the known world, Christ fulfilled his promise fifty days after His Resurrection. We read in the second chapter of The Acts of the Apostles:
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.' 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine” (ESV).
Peter then preaches to the astounded visitors to Jerusalem (also in the second chapter of Acts), quoting the prophecy of Joel hundreds of years past as well as passages from the Psalms of David while also relating what he and the other disciples witnessed of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection as well as the many sightings of Christ following His resurrection from the dead until His ascension to the right hand of the Living God. Peter concludes:
"32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing" (Acts 2, ESV).And then we read the response of the crowd listening to Peter:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2, ESV).
The events of this Pentecost are simply incredible, and it is from this amazing Gift of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God, that the Gospel of Christ first began to spread and the Church began to form. Why evangelical churches do not regularly celebrate Pentecost is a mystery to me. It always lands on a Sunday and thus it can be easily celebrated with Scripture readings, with praise songs and hymns about the Holy Spirit, with sermons focused on the Holy Spirit, and perhaps even with baptisms since approximately 3,000 people were baptized and added to the Church on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection in Acts 2. Pentecost is a Biblical holy day, and we can celebrate it Biblically, too, with "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart[s]" (Ephesians 5:19, ESV).
In the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, one of the Collects (collective or public prayers) for Pentecost reads thus:
Almighty and most merciful God, grant, we beseech thee, that by the indwelling of thy Holy Spirit, we may be enlightened and strengthened for thy service ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.And the Book of Common Prayer 2011's Collect for Pentecost (also in the sidebar of this blog):
"O GOD, you teach the hearts of your faithful people by sending us the light of your Holy Spirit; By your Spirit, give us right judgment in all things, so that we may rejoice forever in his holy comfort; Through the victory of Christ Jesus our Savior, who lives and rules with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen." (References: John 14.26; Acts 2.1-4; Philippians 1.9-10; Acts 9.31)The Anglican Church has an interesting name for Pentecost: Whitsunday which comes from the white garments worn by those who are baptized this day, just as over 3,000 people were baptized on that first Pentecost in Acts 2. In the above hyperlink to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry of "Whitsunday," an interesting fact is given:
Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed, as there is in the case of Easter; the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast. This is not surprising, for the feast, originally of only one day's duration, fell on a Sunday; besides it was so closely bound up with Easter that it appears to be not much more than the termination of Paschal tide [Eastertide].
I close with this quotation on the importance of Pentecost:
Wishing you a blessed Pentecost,
Sunday, April 4, 2021
|The Resurrection of Christ and the Women in the Tomb (c. 1440-1442) by Fra Angelico|
The liturgical greeting for Eastertide is one that goes back centuries. But my favorite Resurrection Day hymn goes back only to the eighteenth century. Written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley the English church reformer, I miss singing this hymn today with great gusto and joy as it is being sung at churches around the world. These words and the soaring music truly expressed my Easter joy in a Risen Saviour!
1. Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
2. Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
3. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
4. Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
Last night's Holy Saturday Vigil was so powerful. Lighting the Pascal fire from flint and steel, then lighting the Pascal Candle which is embedded with five small nails representing the five wounds of Christ, then praying together before Father Acker and Alice processed into the darkened chapel singing "The Light of Christ! Thanks be to God!!" They stopped to sing this three times, each time lighting more candles; we at home on Zoom lit our candles, too. Then we prayed by candlelight as Father Acker sang the ancient Holy Saturday liturgy in plainsong--it's soooooo beautiful!!
|The Paschal Candle, with the Greek letters "Alpha" and "Omega", the year, and the nails representing the Five Wounds of Christ|
Then we read several long Scripture passages which tell our salvation history as God's people. We then re-affirmed our baptismal vows and celebrated the First Evensong of Eastertide!! With what joy did we greet the end of this amazing vigil, definitely my favorite service in the Anglican tradition. The candles, the incense, the Scripture passages, the vows, the prayers, and the joy of the Resurrection after the sorrow of Good Friday. Thanks be to God, indeed!!
The Good Friday liturgy was equally powerful, but it was filled with sorrow rather than the impending joy of the Vigil. To read the Passion of the Christ from the Gospel of Saint John aloud ... to be crying out "Crucify Him!! Crucify Him!!" with the crowd. My heart was so heavy as I imagined His suffering so greatly ... for us! For me! For those whom I love! For every person ever created on this earth and every person who will be created in the future! His Love is that big!! Alleluia!! Thanks be to God!!
|The Crucifixion with Saints by Fra Angelico (141-1442), fresco|
Saturday, February 20, 2021
|Deposition from the Cross by Fra Angelico|
Updated from the Archives...
While the art of the Pre-Raphaelites remains my favorite period of art, I cannot narrow down all of their talent to a single "favorite artist." And considering that my Master of Arts in English from Catholic University of San Diego was in Medieval Literature (with many courses taught by an amazing nun with a Harvard Ph.D.), it's not surprising that my favorite artist would also be from the medieval period.
Fra Angelico was born approximately the same year in which Chaucer died: 1400. Although he only lived fifty-some years, he produced an incredible body of artistic work.
Today the Church celebrates his Feast Day, and the following is from the "Saint of the Day" e-mail from AmericanCatholic.org:
|Monday, February 18, 2019|
Blessed John of Fiesole
|The Resurrection of the Christ by Fra Angelico|
So I hope that you will enjoy the work of this amazing medieval artist as much as I have and continue to do!
Friday, November 27, 2020
This post is quoted directly from Life for Leaders, written by Mark D. Roberts. To view this post on the website, please click here: Life for Leaders; Getting Ready for Advent.
Monday, November 2, 2020
I have stolen--um, I mean borrowed--this set of daily gratitude prompts from Maria Grace @ Random Bits of Fascination with the grand idea of trying to respond to each post during the month of November. Now seems to be an excellent time as we have sold our home of 19 years in our beloved little town of Pine Valley, California (population 1600 souls), and we are taking a HUGE leap o' faith as we wait to see where God will put us. The kids and I are hoping for Oregon since we have so many friends there, but it will need to be a special house in a special price range--in other words, pretty much a miracle. But God is indeed the One Who Does Miracles, so we are trusting Him for this miracle and for His clear direction if He wants us to go elsewhere. It may be a wild ride, friends!! :D
And as I was just jotting down quotations on gratitude from Ann Voskamp's amazing book on gratitude, One Thousand Gifts, it seems that God is working on me, developing a heart of gratitude rather than a heart of anxiety considering our move, the election, the pandemic, family relationships, etc.
So I will be responding to the first two questions above in this post:
1. What made you smile today?
I so enjoy laughing with my Bible study group from Blessed Trinity Anglican Church on Zoom. We meet each Monday evening to get an overview of a book of the Bible and discuss it, and so far we have discussed several books including Psalms, Genesis, Jonah, Philippians, Isaiah, and tonight was Colossians; next week we'll be discussing Esther.
Father Gregory always makes us laugh, and we can be as silly as we like. We almost always add the Zoom video effects, so I was wearing my halo, and Father Gregory and his grown daughter Ashley were wearing little green leaves sprouting out of their heads. We also use the responses, including the heart, the thumbs-up, the party blower, the applauding hands, the thumbs-up, the laughing-'til-you're-crying, etc. We had a wonderful time gaining an overview of Colossians, and I read my favorite verses from this "prison epistle" written by the Apostle Paul:
Colossians 3.12-17 (ESV):
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
These verses make me smile, too--they describe our life and our joy in Christ so perfectly!!
2. Who are you grateful for?
There are so many people I could list here: the members of my family, our priests/pastors (both current and former), my women's Bible study at Pine Valley Community Church, I am grateful for my friend, mentor, confidant, and former neighbor Judith. She is in her mid-80s but has the spirit and overflowing joy of her early 20s. (She says that she feels like she is in her teens, but she's a bit too wise for a teenager!😂) Judith has been my friend for about seventeen of our nineteen years in Pine Valley; our mutual friend Kitty introduced us, and we've been bopping over to one another's houses, texting and emailing, giving gifts and tech help and editing help and advice on poems and prose and being part of the same writers' workshop which meets monthly at our county library branch (and on Zoom during COVID).
Judith tells the truth gently, but she tells the truth. She has such insight--truly she's a prophetic spirit--and I find her advice and help so grounded, Biblical and TRUE. She's an incredibly modest woman as well as an extremely talented one; not only is she a gifted poet and writer of prose, but she is also a musician and an artist. Talk about a real triple-threat!! But Judith is as far from a threat as a human could possibly be. She is infused with joy even when having a rough Lupus day; her eyes sparkle with mischief, and she is a woman truly "after God's own heart" as she speaks His Truth while His Love flows from her every pore. Her lovely face is so animated with her love for our Savior that she can't help but inspire all whom she speaks to, whether they are Believers or not. And her compassion, her righteous anger, her love for people, and especially her passion for saving God's Creation inspire all who hear her speak on these vital topics.
Before I met Judith and Kitty, I had never met strong Christians who were Democrats, and, at first, I wondered how they could support the other political party. Now, nearly two decades older and a bit wiser, I can see why, and I have joined them in desiring to be compassionate, to help the poor and the helpless precisely as Jesus commands, to seek common ground with people rather than dividing them with any wedge that can be found.
|Our Writers' Workshop writing together on a NaNoWriMo "Write-In" |
at the Pine Valley Library; Judith is second from the right.
So many more reasons exist for why I am thankful for Judith, so consider this post a mere beginning!!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Have a lovely week, everyone!! I am buried in grading preliminary drafts of MLA research essays, so I will post more when I'm done with class. Until then, enjoy this quotation from my Commonplace Book!!
Soli Deo Gloria,
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
It seems a lifetime ago, yet it seems so immediate that it could have been yesterday. We were so removed from the actual events of September 11, here on the West Coast, awakened by my father's phone call after pulling into our family's mountain cabin with four sleeping kids at 2:00 AM just a few hours previously. We had finished packing up our city home of ten years, picked up the kids from my parents' beach house, and drove an hour east, past the small mountain town that we were moving to, and arrived at my family's 500 square foot cabin to stay until we could move into our new-to-us mountain home.
We had only "rabbit ears" on the small TV in the cabin, so most of the news was blurry and static-laden. I remember being half-asleep all day, trying to watch the news, setting up my laptop on the kitchen table but only able to be online for half an hour at a time in order to keep the phone lines free to talk to family, the realtors, etc. All while taking care of four kids ages 18 months to nine years old. The little guy was still nursing, and I was trying to homeschool the older two kids while the preschooler created mayhem.
Because I was so news-deprived, I tend to spend each anniversary of September 11 watching crystal-clear videos of the events in New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. But the first anniversary was the most powerful because I could finally see, with astonishing clarity, the videos and photos of all that I couldn't see on September 11, 2001, and for several weeks afterward, as our escrow was delayed because of the New York banks needing time to start back to work again.
But what really caught my attention was a moment in which the US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins (whom I would meet in 2013 at the Writers' Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University), read aloud his poetic tribute on the first anniversary of September 11. "The Names." It struck me viscerally, even more than U2's "Beautiful Day" and "Walk On" (two of my favorite songs by my favorite band) at the Superbowl halftime show a few months after the tragedy.
The thing I love about Billy Collins' work is that he is supremely unpretentious. With his poetic talent and his academic cred, with his position as our nation's Poet Laureate for two years, he could easily be as pretentious as all-get-out. But he's not. He is (no past tense here!!) our nation's poet. He speaks the language of the everyday American, with a hint of sarcasm, with a twinkle in his eye. But not with this poem. Here he is, reading "The Names" again, at the request of PBS:
If you would like to read more about Billy Collins and his poetry, check out his page on The Academy of American Poets at poets.org: Billy Collins. (To read some of his poems, click the bar beneath his photo.)
Thanks for allowing me to remember those dark days, but not very dark as I was a continent away, in a wee mountain cabin with four small children, trying to find out what the heck was happening on this beautiful autumn day, a day of change as we moved from one house to another nineteen years ago. I knew that what was happening was big and scary, even through the static fuzz of the 12-inch TV screwed into the wall seven feet from the floor.
But Billy Collins made it real the next year, made it actual. Made it tangible. And I can't thank him enough.