Sunday, May 27, 2012


Grace and peace and abundant blessings on this great festival day, on our new Church Calendar very appropriately the Last Sunday of Easter season, 50th Day of what we are calling now the Great 50 Days, and in some meaningful ways I suppose we might think of it as the Feast of the Inauguration of the Kingdom of God.

 The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus has ascended to the Right Hand of the Father and is seated now on the Great Throne to Rule Heaven and Earth, the Judge of Nations and Peoples, and as the Holy Spirit, Comforter and Advocate, overflows in eternal glory from the Father and the Son and fills the whole of creation.

The Feast of the Inauguration of the Kingdom of God, above space and beyond time, promised and hoped for from ancient days, eternally future and eternally present.  And the Birthday of the Church, as we’ve seen that sudden almost volcanic eruption in the reading from Acts this morning; suddenly the Church on the move, inspired, energized, proclaiming the Gospel and living the Gospel, the Members Incorporate in the Mystical Body of God’s Son.  The Heirs through hope of God’s Everlasting Kingdom.  Your birthday and my birthday. 

In the ancient Church a baptismal day second only to Easter itself, and the English name “Whitsunday” from “White Sunday,” the color of the robes and vestments of baptismal celebration.  And in more recent color schemes a day for Red paraments, to signify the flame of the Holy Spirit, burning brightly in the life of the Church from that first Pentecost Day onward.  And also the color we use in Church for Holy Days associated with the lives of the Holy Martyrs.  Those whose very lives from St. Stephen in Jerusalem and our own Patron St. Andrew on his X-shaped cross, to this very day in Syria and Egypt and parts of Africa and Asia are given up as a witness and an offering.  The church on the move, inspired and energized.  Your birthday and my birthday, Holy Spirit, and King Jesus on the Throne of Heaven.

The Jewish holiday fifty days after Passover is Shauvot, the Covenant of the Giving of the Law at Sinai, remembering this great moment when God in his generosity claimed a people for his own, called them into relationship.  Before Shauvot  as Moses led them out of Egypt and through the Parted Waters of the Red Sea they were a ragtag and random assembly of Hebrew clans and tribes.  But at the Holy Mountain they stop for the new Word that God will have for them there about who they are, about where they are going.  And only then, as God gives and as they receive that transforming Word, the Torah, the very Word of God, they become his Chosen People, God’s Israel.  

And if the in sacred story of God’s plan the Paschal Mystery of Easter is a new expression of the ancient Passover, so now this Whitsunday and Pentecost of the Holy Spirit is a new Shauvot, the birth in Christian witness of the New Israel.  The Holy Nation through whom God in Christ acts to call the Creation back to himself, to make the wounded whole.

St. Luke wants to tell this story at the beginning of Acts in a way that will stir us up, that will quicken our heartbeat, fill us with excitement ourselves, open us generation by generation and wherever we are so that no matter how tightly locked may be the doors and windows around us, we will expect and we will receive that same gift, that same Holy Spirit, the Tongues of Fire above us and around us and inspiring us, uniting us in Christ one with another and motivating us to obedience and holiness and inspiring us to go out into the world rejoicing and proclaiming the Good News of our Savior.

The Bread and Wine at this Holy Table, signs of his own best and perfect gift to us, the gift of himself, his living presence, his one eternal offering of faithful love for us, Holy Spirit alive in us to be the pattern and purpose of our lives.  Blessings indeed on this Day of Pentecost, Whitsunday, and Happy Birthday!

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.

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