You make the winds your messenger and flames of fire your servants. -Psalm 104:4
In his study of mysticism, The Idea of the Holy, Rudolf Otto describes both a sense of awe and a sense of dread when encountering the numinous. Like wind and fire in nature provoking situations of danger or comfort, wind and fire in scripture symbolize Divine Presence evoking awe and terror, fascination and comfort. I think it is impossible to approach Pentecost without a sense of dread.The purpose of Christian initiation is new birth. It take us from Advent to Pentecost Day to practice all the modes of consciousness and wisdom and difficulty that prepares us for this day of rebirth by wind and fire.Apostolos means “sent”.We are “sent” with the Good News to the “ends of the earth” as Apostles of Good News.But Good News is real change, and change is dangerous, and often not received well.
What fire purifies you with awe and fascination and dread? The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest its voice, but thou knowest not whence it cometh and whether it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit. Where are you sent? This week’s posting offer prompts on the church (one), divine union with God (two), and thoughts on going forth into the world (three and “the last word”). -Suzanne
Pentecost, Illustrator of Petites Heures de Jean de Berry, 14th century
the beginning of the church
The Jewish day of Pentecost celebrated the giving of the law on Mt.Sinai.The story in the book of Exodus of the giving of the law is marked by characteristic Baal imagery:God appears on top of a mountain, with thunder, lightning, cloud, and earthquake.Exodus 19:19 says that when Moses talked to God, “God would answer him in thunder.”So in Acts 2 God arrives in “a sound like the rush of a violent wind,” and fire appears, not on the top of a holy mountain, but on the top of each believer’s head.
–Gail Ramshaw, Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary p.423
The beginning of Christendom is, strictly, at a point out of time.A metaphysical trigonometry finds it among the spiritual Secrets, at the meeting of two heavenward lines, one drawn from Bethany along the Ascent of Messias, the other from Jerusalem against the Descent of the Paraclete.That measurement, the measurement of eternity in operation, of the bright cloud and the rushing wind, is, in effect, theology.
The history of Christendom is the history of an operation.It is an operation of the Holy Ghost towards Christ, under the conditions of our humanity; and it was our humanity which gave the signal, as it were, for that operation.The visible beginning of the Church is at Pentecost, but that is only a result of is actual beginning – and ending – in heaven.
-Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church (quoted from Love’s Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness)
Collect for Pentecost Day O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in its holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Effortlessly, Love flows from God into man, Like a bird Who rivers the air Without moving her wings. Thus we move in His world, One in body and soul, Though outwardly separate in form. As the Source strikes the note, Humanity sings-- The Holy Spirit is our harpist, And all strings Which are touched in Love Must sound."
- Mechtild of Magdeburg 1207-1297 trans. Jane Hirshfield
Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of Holy Spirit, Alleluia, Alleluia -Dismissal after the Eucharist
The Last Word A prayer for going forth
Lord Take me where you want me to go, Let me meet who you want me to meet Tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way. -The Rev. Mychal Judge O.F.M. d. 9/11/2001