Every year at the end of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, the body of Christ, the Church celebrates its birthday with the extraordinary occasion of the Day of Pentecost: Whitsunday. This feast both reminds and teaches how the people of God, across lines of all sorts, conditions, and languages, actually can be united in One God – through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel according to St. John the Divine (15:26-27; 16:4b-15), Jesus reminds his followers of what this coming and power of the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom of God, means: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
On the Day of Pentecost, the faithful were filled with burning hearts that would change history by celebrating the unifying and reconciling love of God. They were filled with new ways of being that would effect good change for the world. The God within and around each individual marked new beginnings and transformed lives, making each believer a missionary of the truth set forth by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Birthdays strike me as a picture-perfect chance to begin again one’s appreciation for and commitment to life. For Christians, our common birthday, Pentecost, suggests that we might embrace the Spirit within, and let it freely burn in order to inform and motivate how we live. May our Pentecost prayer become something like the words of the hymn, “Come down, O Love divine,” and may our lives become this song.
Come down, O Love divine” seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long, shall far outpass the power of human telling;
for none can guess its grace, till Love create a place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.
God’s blessings and peace as we try,
The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector