We celebrated the coming of the Holy Ghost today in our little church of Saint Thomas’ in San Francisco.
What is the Holy Ghost? our archbishop asked in his sermon, as he stood before us in the central aisle. Archbishop Provence appeared full of thought, his hands clasped quietly, his eyes pausing on various members of his flock. For he knows each of us, or if he doesn’t, would like to. I prayed that the Holy Ghost would use him to teach us, touch us, with God.
And the Holy Ghost did – He worked through our priest, came among us, gifting us with God Himself.
Pentecost, named for the Jewish holiday celebrated fifty days after Passover, over time took the name Whitsunday, named for the second day of baptism (the first being Easter) when the person dipped in the pool of cleansing waters wore a white robe. Whitsunday also came to be associated with Confirmation in the English church, a ceremony in which the candidates wore white as well. In the Christian calendar, Whitsunday comes the Sunday after Ascension, which is hooked onto Easter, a variable feast. So each year Whitsunday lands on a different calendar day but is always the week after Ascension Sunday.
Pentecost-Whitsunday is the celebration of that remarkable event described so forcefully in Acts when the Spirit descends upon the disciples who wait (Christ had told them to do so), assembled in Jerusalem. The Spirit comes upon them like “tongues of fire” and they are given the ability to speak in many languages. They leave that Jerusalem room, telling all who will listen about the amazing acts of God, each one speaking in the language of the hearer.
We too assembled there in our chapel, waiting.
Our archbishop told how when God created the world, his Holy Ghost moved over the waters; when he created Man he whispered the words, then breathed life into him, rather like a kiss. The Holy Ghost, the third person of the Trinity, shows God is an intimate God. A loving God. Yet a God of power and majesty.
We too have God’s power and majesty breathed into us, kissed into us. We are given the ability to do marvelous acts. We breathe in and breathe out (I thought of the Jesus prayer), praying our lives to him, our years, our hours, our minutes.
And soon we would hear the whispering of the Holy Ghost in the words of the Mass, prompting us, leading us, strengthening us, inspiring us. Soon we would be kissed by God in the Body and Blood of the Mass.
I left our little chapel this morning, not speaking a new foreign language, but perhaps thinking one, as my heart, mind, and soul were filled with the whispers and kisses of God.
Saint Thomas’ Anglican Church, 2725 Sacramento St., San Francisco,http://www.anglicanpck.org/; Sunday Mass: 10:00 a.m.