May 20, 2021 Celebrate Pentecost and the birthday of the church!
At Family Camp last weekend, a small group of us ascended the mountain behind Camp Stevens on a quest for the famed Upper Meadow. While not a lengthy trek, it was basically straight uphill.
The Glorieux boys were practically sprinting, Charlie Wolfe was carrying an extra 55 pounds of William on his back, Linda Benning and her granddaughter Harper kept a steady pace, and Katy Bennett may or may not have been secretly racing Charlette.
When we reached the opening at the top—the Upper Meadow—we were tired and sweaty from the toil yet exhilarated by the view . . . and by the delightful onslaught of wind. “This is what Pentecost feels like,” Charlette shouted to me over the temperate, yet deafening wind which was pummeling us in just the right way. Yes. It. Does.
Last Thursday was Ascension Day, and at the Healing Service we celebrated Jesus’ ascension into Heaven: up went Jesus! And this Sunday—the Day of the Pentecost—we will celebrate the coming down of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ eternal gift to us.
Indeed, Pentecost feels wildly out of control in a delightful, celebratory way. The Holy Spirit goes where it will! But where the Holy Spirit wills to go most often is into our hearts, permeating our lives with forward movement toward God’s dream for reconciliation, restoration, and the Beloved Community.
It is this reason—this benevolent progression toward realizing God’s vision for the Kingdom of Heaven—that makes the Pentecost also the birthday of the church! As you will hear in Sunday’s reading from Acts, the Holy Spirit came down . . . and sent the people out—out into the world to spread the Good News, to reconcile hearts, to bring the Kingdom by creating Beloved Community.
This Sunday will be a great celebration of the church! There will be baptisms and treats, red ribbons and even a dove. We will sing together with gusto and joy, and there may even be a surprise or two!
And frankly, we have much to celebrate. Last weekend also marked my first six months as Christ Church’s 18th rector and my family’s arrival in Coronado, which prompted some reflection on how far we have come in six months.
Just six months ago, you were saying goodbye to your interim rector Fr Michael, and my family and I were preparing to move across the country in the middle of a pandemic. It is so hard to believe that just six months ago, there was no authorized vaccine—and we were on the cusp of plummeting into the most frightening and deadly season of the pandemic that Southern California ever saw.
Stay at Home orders were issued, and our offices and in-person services were closed. We spent Christmas and New Year’s at home, isolated from loved ones, church family, and strangers alike. Small delights like cards and gifts left on doorsteps meant the world to us. We did not see faces except on Zoom as masks were a truly essential item when leaving the house. And a fog of uncertainty hung over everything.
Sometimes when we have been through trauma, it seems easier to forget than to take the time to reflect, process, and grieve. Yet if we barrel forward without taking the time, we miss the opportunity to hear what the Holy Spirit is telling us—to notice where the Holy Spirit is leading us. If we do not stop to reflect, we miss the opportunity to find out what our grief has to teach us.
It is not insignificant that throughout the stories of the Bible, again and again people take the time to mark important moments with words, with altars, and with events. Celebrations give us time to reflect, which is one of the reasons for our liturgical calendar.
I pray you take the time this weekend to celebrate the Pentecost and the birthday of the church! I pray you take the time to reflect on how far we have come in just six months—and how truly the Holy Spirit is leading us.
With the SMILE Project underway, Family Camp complete, the Holy Eucharist moved to the courtyard so we can be all together and can sing—soon unmasked for those who are vaccinated!—not to mention this weekend’s baptisms and celebration, and all the camps, events, and projects on the horizon for this Summer . . . we have much to celebrate, indeed. Peace be with you.
Much love and many prayers,