June 9, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Welcome to our Parish celebration of the Feast of Pentecost.

Perhaps some of you are here in response to a hand-written invitation. My hope is that we all recognize that we are here in response to an invitation extended to us through the Holy Spirit. For I am convinced that it is the Holy Spirit who desires, for our benefit, that we be assembled together on this day and in this manner. Often we think of the Holy Spirit in a relationship that is something intensely personal. The work of the Holy Spirit, we imagine, takes place within the confines of the human heart. We think: only when we get away from the clamor of the world’s many voices will we hear the still, small whispers of the Holy Spirit who guides us on our way.

I am not saying that this is untrue—to be sure, the Spirit speaks into our lives in personal ways. But this is clearly not how we encounter the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

The second chapter of Acts provides us with our ‘first impression’ of the Holy Spirit—who He is and how He works. The Spirit comes to a community that has been gathered together (Acts 2:1). Peter and the disciples had not gone off on their own into a private and personal relationship encounter with God. They were together with the Church. And while they were together, the Spirit’s actions were anything but a gentle whisper to be felt and cherished. Rather, we hear a mighty and “violent wind” blow through the room where they were gathered. We witness “tongues of fire” descend upon the Apostles. And from this encounter with the Holy Spirit the Apostles are empowered to speak to the nations.

This Pentecost Day encounter reminds us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for a private and personal enriching of self but for an outpouring of gifts for the sake of others, for “every race and nation.” This movement of the Holy Spirit can be traced in Saint Peter’s sermon, which sets the truth plainly before his hearers and begs the unavoidable question: “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). And the answer comes back, go out, so that all might be lifted up.

And so this Pentecost, perhaps we recognize that we are here in response to a hand-written invitation. Or perhaps, we are here in response to the Holy Spirit who has brought us together to encounter the movement of God not in a gentle word of comfort that we can lock away safely in our souls, but in a life transforming rushing wind that stirs and transforms our lives and the lives of those to whom we are sent.

Fr. Pete