The Rev. David Meyers
Holy Spirit Episcopal Church
1200 Post Dr., Belmont, MI 49306
This article is written at the beginning of the season of Pentecost. Pentecost begins on the 50th day after Easter. The season occupies most of the remainder of the calendar year and celebrates the birth, action, and mission of the church. We know Pentecost primarily as the time in which the Holy Spirit visited the disciples in the form of tongues of fire. The Spirit’s presence gave them understanding and power to do the mission of Christ. They emerged from a state of disorganization to a position of knowledge and power. A group of ragtag followers received an identity out of which the gospel took root and made an impact on the world.
There is, however, another form of Pentecost that is less well known. A much older celebration occurred among the Hebrew people as the feast of Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. In the Jewish tradition, Pentecost or Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Subsequently, the Hebrews developed the awareness that they were the people of God. As Easter and Passover are celebrated at the same time, so are the two Pentecosts.
The two feasts of Pentecost follow a pattern. In both, the people were lost. They were waiting and wandering. In both, God gave the gift of himself, in the word and in flame. The presence of God in the lives of the followers resulted in a new identity in both cases. The people understood that God had chosen them and, in return, they dedicated themselves to God.
These two major Pentecosts might be prototypes to an ongoing cycle of Pentecosts. These major events are, at some level, enacted in the life of each individual. We all have our personal Pentecosts. For wanderers seeking God, there will be events in which God visits with a gift. That gift might be miraculous or might be seen in kindness, goodness, relationship, or sacrament. When people receive that gift and are aware of the presence of God, then new things happen. Dedication, faithfulness, change, and even rebirth all can be the result.
Friends, we are all wanderers. Even those with a strong belief system, find themselves occasionally groping in the dark. The task is to be attentive to God. Look for those gifts through which God visits and invites his people. When awareness of the gift occurs, then life is transformed and new identity awakens.