Friday, June 6, 2014

Bishop’s Note: Collect for Pentecost Sunday

 Bishop Eric Menees

O God, who on this day didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Last week we celebrated the feast of the Ascension - the reality of Jesus’ bodily ascension into heaven to reign in Glory at the right hand of the Father and to intercede on our behalf, until His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead! Jesus had told the disciples that he must leave - that the Holy Spirit could not come until he had ascended into heaven: “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7 ESV) When he did ascend into heaven, the believers were again - just as they were between Good Friday and Easter Sunday - left feeling alone, disoriented, confused, and grieving. However, Jesus had promised them that he would not leave them orphaned - (John 14:15) that he would send the Holy Spirit. 

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit, and, with that arrival, the Birth of the Church.

Often when we think of the Holy Spirit, we think of the gifts that He brings to us when we allow Him into lives. These gifts are outlined in Romans 12 and Corinthians 12, among other places. However, when Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit, he wanted to provide comfort for our lost souls, our grief’s, and our sorrows, and to illumine our hearts and minds to the will of God in both the macro and micro senses. When we read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit opens us up to understand God’s will for all people. Reading the books of the bible that deal with history shows us how God has acted in the past. The books of the prophets and Revelation show how God will act in history. The Gospels, Epistles, and Acts of the Apostles often direct us how to act as individuals in a specific historical context, by the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

In addition to God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit in His Word, he also speaks to us by direct communication - through reason & tradition - through inspiration and dreams - through clergy and friends. In other words, the work of the Holy Spirit is constant in opening our hearts and minds to the knowledge and love of God.

The question isn’t: “Is the Holy Spirit illuminating the Truth?” The question is: “Are we open to the Truth that the Holy Spirit illuminates?” For me, that is one aspect of this prayer, this collect, that speaks to me: “Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;” that God, through the Holy Spirit, would grant us right judgment in all things; the ability to discern wisdom from folly - demons from angels - truth from falsehood. The world around us is constantly trying to mislead and misdirect us, but the Holy Spirit brings us back home to the heart of the matter, which begins and ends with God: His Love, His Grace, and His Will in our lives.

The second aspect of this collect that speaks to me is its charge that we rest in the Comfort of the Holy Spirit:  “Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort….” The ability to rest in the Holy Spirit - to rejoice in His Holy Comfort - is so important, and so often ignored. God does not desire anxiety but peace, not worry but faith, not discord but unity. Those things all come through our rejoicing in His Holy Comfort! So, if you are experiencing anxiety, worry, and discord, I would especially appeal to you this Sunday to open your heart and mind to God the Holy Spirit to receive the Grace that He desires to give you but will never force upon you!

My prayer for you and me this Sunday as we celebrate the Coming of the Holy Spirit and the Birth of the Church, is that we will be open to the teaching and direction that God the Holy Spirit desires to give us.

May God bless and keep you all!

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