Thursday, May 28, 2015
The service of Pentecost as renewal and hope for a spirited tomorrow
Come Holy Spirit, dwell inside us
Come Holy Spirit, renew us
Come Holy Spirit, make us a channel for your grace
Come Holy Spirit, may we accomplish the unthinkable
The service of Pentecost gives us the opportunity to renew the power of the Holy Spirit inside us. We have gained the Holy Spirit through the commitment of baptism. The bending of our knees is an acknowledge of our short comings and sinful nature and an invitation to God through the Holy Spirit to work inside us. Such opportunities are less in life.
The sprinkling of water is a cool breeze and energy of faith that splashes onto us the commitment to work hard for God and be blessed by God in return. The fact is that God never forsakes us. Jesus tells his disciples that when he leaves them, the Holy Spirit will come to guide and lead them. As the father God inspired him, he will inspire the Holy Spirit to guide us. He informs the disciples in St. John 14:1-3 that he will ensure a space for them in his father’s house. The one who works for God will never be let alone to wither away but will be send springs of grace to grow and become whole. No matter what, I am there for you, says the Lord God!
Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit also reminds us from St. John 15:15 that Jesus comes to the point of accepting his disciples and followers as his friends and as his equals in ministry. It is a call to them of their responsibility rather than a feeling of accomplishment of their elevation. He tells them that him calling them his friends also means that from now on they share the responsibility of working for the kingdom of God. Jesus says that this kingdom cares for the poor, nourishes the sick, looks after the elderly, accepts the outcasts, stands with the wrongly accused, and offers good governance for all which leads to just and equal prosperity for all. Jesus just does not elevate them but puts the glorious burden of ministerial responsibility on them. In St. John 15:13 Jesus says that no one has greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. Ministry is a calling to see others as our friends and to go the extra mile for them, unto the point of even laying down our life for them.
Pentecost reminds us of team work and unity. There obviously cannot be various Holy Spirits and various views of the one Holy Spirit. What that means is that any difference of opinion of or about the Holy Spirit means a difference of opinion of people on how they see and experience the Holy Spirit and one another. So the service of Pentecost reminds us that we have to work together overcoming our differences. This cannot happen overnight but this is also not impossible. Responsibilities should be equally divided and given in a way that no one feels left out and the gifts of all are used. A call for unity is not to crush the spirit of diversity but to say that God in the form of the trinity is united and it is humans who bring about division. God cannot be divided from God’s own front but is divided by the narrow understanding of human beings.
The bending of knees and prostration during the service is an act of humility and repentance. It is to say that we are willing to unite under the wings of God. It is painful and difficult but it leads eventually to a wonderful unity which will do away with the pain and difficulties involved in kneeling. Accepting our differences and the fact that our difference of opinion is also a difference in understanding of one true reality is indeed painful but not wrong. The kneeling process makes us accept the pain and the knowledge that the pain will become happiness soon. It is indeed happiness that makes us arise in one accord and receive the droplets of water symbolizing the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is a great happiness of having being accepted into a single fold of children, women and men. In St. Mark 1:40 a leper comes, kneels before Jesus and says that “if you choose, you can make me clean.” Kneeling is a very inherent act of accepting from our very high positions that we are after all children of God and not beyond God.
The incident at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 were confusion springs upon an over confident people, and the occasion of the Pentecost in Acts 2 when each understood in their own language what the disciples spoke, are contrasting in their approach. In the first case the people have figured out everything and they forget that an ambition of a few does not stand for the many. In the second instance the people do not know each other but are brought together by the Holy Spirit. One does not know where the spirit goes and how it leads. We bow before the Holy Spirit to be blessed with showers of blessing which become legible and understood by multiple sections of people.
The Pentecost is thus a time of renewal of our commitment to be filled by the Holy Spirit, to stir us to action always making us bow before God. Being accountable to no one and living a life beyond and above everything cannot make us members of a community who cares for one another. The Holy Spirit gives peace, assurance, guidance and happiness. The Holy Spirit also gives the strength to bow down and rise in expectation and hope that God is present inside us and whenever we bow before God, we will be raised from the ashes.
The service of Pentecost thus becomes a cool wind in the midst of testing times, problems, expectations, doubts and half truths. It is a washing of the body and soul. A sign that whatever has happened in our lives, we have God in the presence of the Holy Spirit to carry on with strength and hope. When the representative of God announces “Stand up by the power of God”, it is a nudge and a help to now get up and be assured that God is with us.
As is said in one of the prayers during the service of Pentecost “We pray You, 0 God, the comforter Spirit, by this sweet incense, beseeching the abundance of Your incomprehensible richness, that even now You be pleased to renew unto us Your divine gifts, and to rest upon us as You did upon the holy disciples in the Upper Room, divide among us Your heavenly presents, fill us with Your divine wisdom and with the doctrines of Your divine mysteries, make us temples for the dwelling of Your glory, grant us to drink to the full of the abundance of Your grace, satisfy us with the sublime richness of Your bright light, grant to us that we live to You and yield ourselves to You that we may, in purity and holiness, worship You, 0 God, the Comforter Spirit. Through You and by You we worship the hidden God, from whom You proceed, and the Son of Whom You take, now and forever. Amen”