We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”
14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Fifty days after Easter and related symbolically and historically to the Jewish shavuot, Pentecost seems like the most mystical of holy days in a religion which abounds in mystery and wonder. Image: El Greco's depiction of Pentecost.
It is my deficiency that this Spirit stuff eludes me. Personal history and professional work with victims of child abuse somewhat temper my enthusiasm for God the All Powerful Father. So I put my faith in and long ago gave my heart to Jesus, preacher, teacher, healer, rescuer, lover of my soul.
My church talks a lot about the Spirit, and I stolidly keep my peace. Christians much wiser and kinder and happier than I follow the party line, so I don't challenge them. Tho I resist being told how to pray! Today in church when our new, fat, bald minister hectored us to close our eyes and put our hands in submissive pose and pray to be "re-baptized" with the Spirit, I just kept my eyes open, arms folded. Hard when one's beloved spiritual adviser retires, to be replaced by a religious bossy boots, without equal wisdom...
We used to kneel and pray. We used to pray together the confession of sins--on our knees. Our congregation was older, but we also had many young couples with their children. The new minister demands that we no longer use the pews. Every once in a while when he permits us to say the prayer of confession it is more likely to be about global warming than our own actions. For about two years after he arrived, we would be handed a print out at the door with this weeks program on it. He did not have the courage in the beginning to omit the "Lord's Prayer", so when we came to that bit you should have been there when so many little old ladies would drop those heavy wooden pews with a big bang and kneel down. Most of them myself included have been pushed out of our church homes. REBEL LOUDLY Retriever, or they will take your prayers, your service, your neighbor, and finally your building. That is what is happening in Episcopal Churchs across this nation.
We even had a couple of female preists, who were determined to inflict upon the congregation a "communion for menstruation"--to celebrate women's bodies.
Anonymous, I sympathize! I used to go to a church like that. Vote with your feet.
Just back from teaching Sunday School this evening, and had a lot of fun with the kids. My friends in med school (when I was in a lower wattage grad school) learned something by first see, then do, then teach. Something about having to reflect on Pentecost with kids that helps one imagine it better. Acting out the story, reflecting on other Bible stories about fire and God's spirit, people speaking different languages, how the Holy Spirit guides, goads, comforts, and enlightens people. Kids left with glittering crowns with tissue paper flames that made them look a little like Vegas showgirls, but they were bursting with the story for their parents...The idea of God pouring power and life into people, to do great things, appealed to the kids.
So God has sent us a minister who doesn't exactly set my heart on fire. But trying to teach these kids, I find myself blundering closer to the truth I had been mad at our minister for not spoon feeding me this am...And acting out Bible stories is a lot more fun than fidgetting in a pew...