Letter for May 19, 2013
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The wind, the tongues of flame, the descending dove, all of these are
attempts to understand, describe and celebrate the Holy Spirit. And it
is these symbolic representations that we use to celebrate today,
Pentecost, the Fifty Days, the birthday of the Church.
Even after the Ascension, the early community was small, disorganized
and confused. In the classic description from Acts, the community was
still behind locked doors, at least until the windows rattled in the
breeze and tongues of flame came down onto the community, and the Church
The Church was born. With the descent of the Holy Spirit, Jesus makes
good on His Ascension promise that He would not leave us alone but would
send us an Advocate. After the Advocate, the doors are unlocked and the
windows are opened, and Peter and the Apostles open their mouths and are
understood by the whole world.
It is this dynamic process of receiving the Advocate and going forth to
fearlessly proclaim the Good News to a hungry world that we celebrate on
this, our birthday. From the streets of Roman Jerusalem, up the Lebanon
coast and inland to Damascus. Down the coast to Alexandria, following
the Nile south to Ethiopia.
The Church is already on fire with love for the Savior and already
enthusiastically spreading the news even before the work of Paul has a
chance to begin.
And so here we are. Two millennia. New lands. New generations. With one
Lord, one faith, one baptism. With one Spirit that animates and vivifies
us, renewing us daily. Happy birthday to us!
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