This Sunday, June 9 is the the Day of Pentecost (Greek: "Fiftieth Day") It is a principal festival of the church year, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples fifty days after Easter. The reading this Sunday from Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1-21) recounts this event.
In Judaism, the fiftieth day after Passover was celebrated as an agricultural festival, known as the feast of Weeks (Exodus 43:22; Deuteronomy 16:9-10). The Christian Pentecost was celebrated by the late fourth century. Pentecost is the final day of the Easter season. The festival commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit and the Baptism of 3,000 converts.*
Take a few moments and watch biblical storyteller Elizabeth Adkisson telling the story of Pentecost on this video:
As you listened to the stroy, what did you notice? What part did fire play in the telling? Both unity and diversity are evident in this stroy. What examples of unity did you hear? What about diversity? Does the presence of diversty leave no room for unit (or, the other way around)? Do we see one as an obstacle to the other?
I've been thinking about the image of fire recently. Fire can be both the most terrify thing and the most comfortable. What is your expereince of fire?
In the 4th century, St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, wrote the following in one of his sermons:
It is the divine way to be seen, or to be described, under the appearance of fire. Moses had seen fire in the bush. The bush was on fire, yet it was not burnt. So the Lord might show us by this mystery that Christ would come to cast light on the thorns of our body, that he would baptize in the Holy Spirit and in fire, and that he would give us grace and destroy our sins. And Gideon, when he was about to defeat the Midianites, commanded his three hundred men to carry burning torches in their pitchers. Our bodies are pitchers, formed from the clay of the earth, that burn with the fire of spiritual grace and bear witness with the voice of confession to the passion of the Lord Jesus. Also in the Acts of the Apostles the Holy Spirit descended upon the faithful in the image of fire. This is a fire which, as with gold, makes what is good better and devours sin as stubble. As the Spirit is the light of the divine countenance, so also is the Spirit the fire that burns before the face of God.—Ambrose [Ambrose, in Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, II, p. 13.]
The Day of Pentecost
June 9, 2019
Reception of New Members
Reception of New Members
Prayer of the Day
God our creator, the resurrection of your Son
offers life to all the peoples of earth.
By your Holy Spirit, kindle in us the fire of your love,
empowering our lives for service and our tongues for praise,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Readings and Psalm
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
John 14:8-17 [25-27]
* Ralph R. Van Loon and S. Anita Stauffer, Worship Wordbook: A Practical Guide for Parish Worship. (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1995), page 67.