Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost 2010

There are many things that are quite puzzling about Christianity to those on the outside looking in. This is especially true when we refer to the classic and historic Christianity that we practice in the Anglican-Catholic tradition. We do strange things like process while carrying books, crosses, & incense; we light candles, and all of this while our clergy & altar servers dress as if we were already in the heavens. If this were not enough, we say words that were written thousands of years ago, & we sing songs that span the 2000 (to 3500) year history of the church. And we even celebrate days on a calendar that no one in our country seems to know anything about.

Today, is Pentecost Sunday, & it is a day that belongs to another rhythm of time; a rhythm that can best be described as the by ebb & flow of God’s redemption. This feast day goes back to even before the birth of Christianity; it has its origins in the 15th century BC, when it was given the Hebrew name, the “festival of weeks.”

We are told about the institution of this feast in the book of Leviticus, 23: 9-16. This feast day had several redemptive events related to it:

1st, it marked the end of the gathering of the harvest season, thus this day was intended to be a the day of the in-gathering- symbolizing the ultimate harvest.

2nd, this feast day marked the day that the Israelites received the Ten Commandments from God. The table of commandments served as the constitution of Israel, the day of Pentecost marked the birthday of Israel.

3rd, it also marked fifty days after the Passover, that day when the angel of death passed over all of the Israelite homes that were covered by the blood of a lamb, bringing life out of death.

So, as you can see, this day of Pentecost was filled with layers of meaning: understanding this, the Greek translators of the Old Testament emphasized the time of the event in their naming of the feast. Since it occurs 50 days after the Passover they called the feast “Pentecost,” which literally means ‘fiftieth”. Nevertheless, it was not until the event recorded in Acts chapter 2, that we find the full meaning of Pentecost revealed. There we find the true gathering of God’s gifts, the people from the entire known world; the formation of the new Israel of God, the church, and the gift of life, the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit coming to dwell inside of humans. The picture painted nearly 1500 years earlier took on flesh. From this day forward there would be a new race of god-men walking the earth. No longer merely sons of Adam, but now sons of God.( Fr. Carlos Miranda, an excerpt from the Homily for Pentecost, 2010)

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