Friday, June 21, 2013

Hastening to be Present for Pentecost

Dear Parish Faithful,

“For Paul … was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.”  (ACTS 20:16)

I believe that all members of our parish should try and imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul by making sure that all effort is expended to be present for the great Feast of Pentecost this coming Sunday.  Pentecost Sunday is not like an “ordinary” Sunday (since Sunday is the Lord’s Day, there essentially is no such thing as an “ordinary” Sunday; but that is a theme for another day).  There is no place to be but in church for the Feast.  Pentecost is the culmination of the paschal mystery that extends back to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the Day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church of the New Testament.  For the first time in fifty days, we will sing “O, Heavenly King,” as we pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon us, as the Spirit descended upon the disciples in the Upper Room on the first Christian Pentecost.  We will also “bend the knee” for the first time in fifty days, as we offer up the specially-appointed prayers of the Vespers of Pentecost, to be served immediately following the Divine Liturgy.

Actually, the Feast begins at the festal Great Vespers on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m.  It is at this service that we will begin our celebration of Pentecost.  A near-empty church, with a three-person choir is hardly a “festal” celebration worthy of the Great Feast of Pentecost.  A near-empty church and a three-person choir would reveal a sad but unavoidable disconnect between our claim to be a parish of the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” and the reality of our parish life.  Perhaps the festal Great Vespers of Pentecost can snap us out of our post-paschal-Sunday-morning-only slump that annually descends upon the church with a dreary regularity.   God always blesses us with new beginnings, and Pentecost is one such glorious opportunity to renew our spirits and (re)turn to the Lord.

Let us hasten, as did the Apostle Paul, to the church for the full celebration of Pentecost!

Saturday, June 22 — Great Vespers at 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 23 — Hours at 9:10 a.m.
                  Divine Liturgy at 9:30 a.m.
                  Vespers of Pentecost immediately following the Liturgy

Scriptural Readings at the Liturgy for Pentecost:

Epistle:  ACTS 2:1-11
Gospel:  JN. 7:37-52; 8:12

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