Friday, May 21, 2010
The Sad Exile of Pentecost
Sunday is Pentecost but you would hardly know it where I live. First of all most of the churches are non-liturgical so they do not follow a calendar which might tell them what to name the day. Second, so many things have displaced the feasts, festivals, and commemorations of the liturgical calendar, that some find it hard to remember the Biblical day in the face of graduations honored and other things from the secular calendar. Finally, as we approach Memorial Day we are ready to proclaim it finally summer and with summer, a vacation from things churchly. So if it where not enough to fight the things happening on the calendars at the end of the school year and the wedding season, we also have the onset of the very time of year when vacation, vacation home, and time off becomes a higher priority than the things of the Lord's House. This is a sad day because Pentecost is so strongly tied to Easter (just as Ascension) and it is like leaving in the midst of the meal to duck out before the promise of the Father in Jesus' name is fulfilled among God's people -- the climactic end of the festival side of the Church Year.
When we gather on Sunday, we will hear part of the Acts 2 lesson in languages from Arabic to Danish to German and several more. After the languages each have their turn at verses 14-20, then all voices will speak together in English: "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' This small little change in the way we read the lessons gives the hearer the image of how God has spoken the one Word that breaks through every division and barrier.
In addition we will receive new members and have an adult confirmation in the Pentecost liturgy so that we see with our eyes the effect of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth and embolden God's people for witness, proclaiming Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins in His name to all the ends of the earth.
Two ten foot banners on either side wall of the chancel, the powerful red of the color of the day, and even a red cope, all help to give Pentecost the attention it deserves... This is how the day informs the practice, how the lectionary provides a clue to what we might do in the liturgy to reflect what the pericopes say. I would urge Lutheran parishes to focus on Pentecost and to restore this special day to its rightful place in the calendar and in the life of God's people.
The hymns vary from the wonderful "Holy Spirit, the Dove Sent from Heaven" which has a sound rather new to most Lutherans to the "Come Down, O Love Divine" with its prayerful bidding of the Spirit to visit and complete His work in the life of the Christian...
A blessed Pentecost!
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I find it equally sad that the there will be much preaching focused on finding a purpose, building a better marriage/kids/workplace, and the like instead of the call from Peter's sermon on the first Pentecost: repentance and faith in Christ.
I had the misfortune of attending one of those churches for a while. We were having some family issues and one of us felt another church could help us better. Where, in fact, we just didn't like to hear the truth coming from our own church.
Reluctantly (deep sigh/roll of the eyes) I gave in and agreed to attend this certain Lutheran church. Every week we had a nice little video with members acting out daily life issues and problems in the home. I was open minded, and thought ok. Now, let's hear how God would like us to handle this. Instead we had "sermons", as they refered to them as, on how to be better person. Look in the mirror, and so on were our "sermons". Great lessons, but never a mention of God anywhere. All of this was to be done on our own. We were never directed to God in any way. If it wasn't for the an occasional hymn every week that might mention God, (yes...this WAS a traditional service) I'd have sworn I was in the center court at the mall listening to a 'life enhancing presentation.'
What ever happened to Christ being the rock we build our lives on anyway? That certainly wasn't even preached.
One Pentecost sermon could certainly start any marriage/kids/workplace problems off in a better direction. Having the Holy Spirit inspire our hearts, soul and minds. That's the first place to start.
Six weeks, and never a mention of God. Some rather nice, happy, and undeniable Christian acts. But without Christ.
Attention mall worshiper's:.... "Is there a Holy Spirit in the house?"
Veni, Creator Spiritus:
Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Thy blessed unction from above,
Is comfort, life, and fire of love,
Enable with perpetual light
The dulness of our blinded sight.
Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far our foes, give peace at home;
Where thou art guide, no ill can come.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both to be but One;
That, through the ages all along,
This may be our eternal song;
Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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