Skip to comments.Discerning the Dove: Pentecost AD 2009
Posted on 06/02/2009 11:28:05 AM PDT by lightman
A grand slam hit over the right field wall at Sovereign Stadium could land on the roof or even tumble through the clerestory windows of the tiny Westminster Presbyterian Church on North Queen Street in downtown York.
For over two decades ending just before the stadium construction commenced this small congregation was pastored by Rev. Jeffrey Wilson, who supplied here in March of 2007. Pastor Wilson is rather eclectic, a person of diverse interests--a modern day Renaissance Man.
During his years of pastoring an inner-city congregation he lived on the family farm in Harford County, Maryland, where he had also served as a County Commissioner. He wrote about these varied occupations in a column that appeared in the Sunday newspaper in the 1980s and early 90s.
Among those diverse interests was an appreciation for the prayer services of western liturgical tradition. He began to hold a service of Contemplative Evening Prayer on the first Monday of every month. Early on, he sought my advice on the details of the liturgy; especially, when would be the proper times to use incense---as though I was an expert on such matters.
At his invitation, I attended those services numerous times; then, one May, he asked me to please lead the service in his absence. Whether as participant or leader, the service had more silence than speech. Pastor Wilson desired that as the service progressed, the intervals of silence would grow longer. The first periods were listed as one minute; then increasing to five minutes; and finally, to fifteen minutes silence.
Leading the Contemplative Prayer service in May, with the clerestory windows open, I found that the silence was merely a word in the worship folder. Even before the construction of the stadium, North Queen Street was a very noisy neighborhood.
The times of supposed quiet were punctuated by a cacophony of urban noises: The clanking of heavy machinery at Metzo Metals, the occasional roar of a diesel truck pulling away from a stop sign; the thunder of motorcycles; the frenzied barking of penned dogs; the shouts of children at play; and even the railroad noises of screeching brakes, clanging couplers, crossing bells, and air horn blasts all filled the spring air.
But above all of those urban and industrial noises, the silence was randomly shattered by the cooing of doves perched on the sanctuary roof. Their calm calling amid the clatter was a perfect preparation for the celebration of the Day of Pentecost.
For while St. Luke describes the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles as being like the sound of a mighty rushing wind and appearing as divided tongues of flaming fire, he describes the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at His baptism in the River Jordan as being in the form of a dove. Pentecost artwork and hymnody have frequently combined the images of winds, fire, and dove. Yes, the cooing of the birds on the roof was an excellent anticipation of the coming feast.
And this continues to be an appropriate metaphor for the life of the church in the modern world. For amid the cacophony of noises and voices competing for our attention, our primary task remains to be still, therefore, and know that I am God by discerning the voice of the Dove.
In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to discern the voice of the heavenly Dove on Pentecost amid the cacophany of voices seeking to co-opt that Festival for their own agenda.
A quarter century ago in the midst of the Cold War, Christian peace activists and proponents of the Nuclear Freeze (anyone remember that?) began the celebration of Peace Pentecost. In its heyday, the Peace Pentecost festivities in Washington D.C. would begin with a packed liturgy in the National Cathedral in the evening of Pentecost Day, then conclude with a protest at the U.S. Capitol on Pentecost Monday. Some protesters would commit civil disobedience by singing their prayers in the Rotunda--where they would then be arrested.
A decade or so ago homosexual activists began the Rainbow Sash movement. Gays and lesbians sporting rainbow colored sashes or stoles would descend at Pentecost on various Churches (usually Roman Catholic) that taught against acting upon their sexual impulses. Sometimes the protesters would stand silently and respectfully throughout the liturgy so as to be more visible. Sometimes the local Bishop would issue a decree that any wearing such attire were to be refused Communion.
And now, this year, Pentecost shall be remembered in Lutheran churches as the day when abortionist George Tiller was murdered in the narthex of Reformation Lutheran Church of Wichita, Kansas. The connection to the festival was strongly emphasized in the statement issued by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson:
"Dr. George Tiller and his wife, Jeanne, were gathering with the people of Reformation Lutheran Church to worship and to celebrate Pentecost -- the coming of the Holy Spirit to God's people," Hanson said. "In the wake of his death we pray that the Holy Spirit will comfort his family and all who mourn."
In the years to come, will Pentecost, in many circles, be remembered as the day of an abortionists martyrdom? Will the Festival be considered a herald of the new things that God shall do to ensure unrestricted access to abortion for all--at any age and any stage?
If the questions seem implausible, consider that the rainbow-wearing homosexual activists have chosen Pentecost as their day of protest precisely for that hope that among Gods new things will be a lifting of ecclesial sanctions against their sexual activities.
But one thing seems very plausible: Against this rainbow-colored and blood stained backdrop it will be all the more difficult to discern the Dove.
Maybe one of the contributing factors was when the sacramentaries ceased referring to this festival as "Holy Pentecost".
Veni, Sanctae Spiritus!
Aren’t we told by the heretics and heresiarchs that “the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing” these days?
The nonsense has become overwhelming and Western Christianity is clearly at risk of collapse.
....Western Christianity is clearly at risk of collapse....
Agreed. And the things that the heretics attribute to the Spirit (for example, the election of the arch-heretic Katharine Jefferts-Schori as presiding “bishop” of the Episcopal Church) are totally off-base!!!!
Orthodox Christians will celebrate Holy Pentecost (which is also our Trinity Sunday) this coming Sunday. It is almost certain that our parish’s Pentecost will be Tiller-free. Lord willing, it will be Spirit-filled!!!!
In the central city of our metropolitan area, for the past two years, anyway, the local “gays’ “ “Pride Week” parade has coincided with Orthodox Pentecost Eve. I was at Vespers at the Orthodox (OCA) cathedral in the city the past two years, and the gaysbians had still not cleared out of the neighborhood of the cathedral when Vespers was over.
This year, “Pride Week” will coincide with the week that begins with Pentecost, Orthodox Trinity Week.
I want to believe that all this is a mere coincidence, since it would be very easy for the gaysbians and their many supporters in government and corporations to neither notice nor know anything about the Orthodox. But I wonder, at least sometimes, if they might have deliberately chosen to target us.
Don't go wobbly on us there HS!
I’d really like to add something, but I want to think about it some more so that what I write is well thought out and expressed.
But if I don’t L, thanks for the ping.