Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bishop's Note: May 21, 2015 - Feast of Pentecost

Bishop Eric Menees

“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all  filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

This scripture lesson from the Book of Acts will be read in all of our congregations this Sunday. It describes the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to send, "another helper, a comforter and guide," to the believers.

It is impossible for me to truly grasp what that Pentecost must have been like - so full of power and emotion!  Dramatic, to be sure.  Over the years countless people have pursued that experience and been left wanting.  Not that the Holy Spirit isn't present - he is, and powerfully so.  The question is the motivation behind the desire for the Holy Spirit.  

The Father didn't send the Holy Spirit so that people could be on an emotional high, but that they might be filled with power and grace to minister to a fallen world: To minister to the world in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ through the gifts of teaching, preaching, prophecy, and tongues;  to minister to the sick through the gifts of healing and miracles; to minister to the church through the gifts of administration, exhortation, words of knowledge, and giving.  You get the picture.  The Holy Spirit is given, not for our own edification, but for the edification of the whole Church and the Glory of God.  

The question is not about whether or not the Holy Spirit came two thousand years ago to the disciples, or repeatedly ever since then at every baptism & confirmation and whenever a true believer has opened their heart and mind to receive him.  The question is: Are we open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and are we exercising those gifts to God's glory?

My prayer for each of us in the Diocese of San Joaquin, and throughout the Church, is that this Pentecost Sunday we will both receive and exercise the love and the power of the Holy Spirit, by stepping up for ministry in our congregations.

I pray you all a truly blessed Pentecost!

Catechism Questions 112 - 114

112.    What is the inward and spiritual thing signified?
The spiritual thing signified is the body and blood of Christ, which are truly taken and received in the Lord’s Supper by faith. (1 Corinthians 10:16-18; 11:27; John 6:52-56)

113.    What benefits do you receive through partaking of this sacrament?
As my body is nourished by the bread and wine, I receive the strengthening and refreshing of my soul by the body and blood of Christ; and I receive the strengthening and refreshing of the love and unity I share with fellow Christians, with whom I am united in the one Body of Christ. (1662 Catechism)

114.    What is required of you when you come to receive Holy Communion?

I am to examine myself as to whether I truly repent of my sins and intend to lead the new life in Christ; whether I have a living faith in God’s mercy through Christ and remember his atoning death with a thankful heart; and whether I have shown love and forgiveness to all people. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32)

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