You wouldn't know it from the pews this morning, but today was a Major Feast.
Notoriously absent, however, was the crowded candlelight of Christmas, the festive flowers and boisterous bonnets of Easter.
We reach Pentecost, the triumphant, red-letter capstone on our Easter experience, and only a few of us even bother to show up to church.
But maybe that's okay, because the few (yea, dare I say faithful) that show up on Pentecost are perhaps more the church than those people who come for "Once in Royal David's City" and "Jesus Christ is risen today".
Twice-a-year-Christians tangent: We are, by now, very familiar of this tendency of folk to show up to church twice a year, and they pick two of our major feasts. But why those two? Where is the segment of the population that really loves -- and only comes out for -- All Saints and Ascension? Epiphany and Trinity?
But Pentecost doesn't really have it's own theme song, does it? Maybe that's because Jesus is easy to sing about, but Pentecost is different, because he's not really in the center of the picture, and that's sort of the point.
Pentecost, of course, follows Ascension which is that great celebration of the resurrected Christ bidding farewell to any kind of earthly incarnation. And so, where is Jesus, we ask? He's not here, and he's been trying to prepare us for this moment, but it's still a little scary.
Where is Jesus? Well, those of us who showed up for Ascension (and, okay, probably fewer than showed up for Pentecost -- it is on a Thursday, after all) remember that Jesus is very certainly no longer on the earth. And this lack of Christ, the Christ who was a teacher, then a martyr, then an incredible redeemer who unbinds our culture of sacrificial violence and destroys death in the process -- the absence of this Christ is painful.
Where is he? Why did he have to go?
Just as things started to get really scary, we were all comforted.
The Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Comforter -- he/she/it/fire has been sent and kindles our hearts.
And our hearts "freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
We are redeemed, we are comforted, and now, the whole idea of being in the presence of the Spirit - the Spirit, that, every time you feel it, you will sing -- is that we are set ablaze with love.
Love for our God (Triune you know. Check back next week) and for each other.
Maybe Pentecost scares people because it's a reminder of the hugeness of this gift of redemption and of being Christ's Church.
It's a little scary, that Christ has sent this Holy Spirit to us.
It's freeing, it's satisfying, it's challenging. It's what it's all about.
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