Sunday, May 31, 2009

Renewed in the Spirit (The Series Finale)

The Solemnity of Pentecost

Today's Word:
Acts 2:1-11 (The Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles; the gift of speaking in tongues is conferred)
Psalm 104:1, 24-34 (When you send forth your renew the face of the earth)
1 Corinthians 12:3-13 (In one Spirit the many parts have been baptized into one body, the Church)
or Galatians 5:16-25 (If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit)
John 20:19-23 ("Receive the Holy Spirit"; the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation)
or John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 ("The Spirit of Truth will guide you")

Happy Birthday, Christian Church!
For it is with the descent of the Holy Spirit that the Apostles, having prayed and reflected for nine days following Jesus' ascension, are at last motivated to speak boldly on behalf of their Master and all that he taught.

Happy Birthday, Cornerstone!
It was on this very date eleven years ago that the community was established. I was there, at the invitation of my friend Mike. They've come a long way on an even longer road in these eleven years. Then, as now, it was Pentecost Sunday - and the significance is not lost on me.

Today, the Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated (in the Methodist tradition) for fourteen young adults. Like it's Catholic counterpart which I observed five weeks earlier, it is filled with joy, hope and promise as the youth professed with their own voice and in their own words their beliefs.

I was reminded of my own confirmation. I remember the date: March 20, 1965. Then, at the age of ten (and in the fifth grade), the theology centered around becoming "soldiers of Christ;" and Onward, Christian Soldiers isn't even recognized as a hymn in the Catholic tradition! Since that time, the underlying theology has thankfully evolved into preparing for lives dedicated at least in part for service in the name of the Lord to the community at large.

It is fitting that Confirmation be celebrated on this day or during the Easter Season; but it has little to do with other rites of passage that take place and are associated with this time of year. It is most certainly a time when the congregation should gather and help the young take their place along with the old in the roles of service and servanthood. It is not, as may have been taught at some point in time, a passage into adult life. For many of the youth, it is on the cusp of leaving home to continue their education at college. This can serve as a reaffirmation of the community to pray for these young people as they grow in maturity and prepare in a more personal way for the challenges they will face as adults.

The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
   heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
   pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
      and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
   give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
   a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
   planted by God to display his glory.
(Isaiah 61:1-4, "The Message" by Eugene H. Peterson)

And He has sent me to do all this for and through my son.

In many, many ways and for many, many reasons (some good and others not so good), I did not consider how to do this. Ultimately, all I have learned and experienced - both the joys and the sorrows - I am meant to share with him, to help him understand in some way that there is someone who loves him, someone larger than life itself who wants the best for him. While that role is largely filled by my dear wife and I, in the end we will find other caring people who will help him along on his journey.

With the passing of Pentecost, we return to the ordinary cycle of the year, which we last left in the thick of winter nearly 100 days ago. Now, spring is in full bloom and beyond; the earth has awakened from her hibernation. By God's grace, with much help and reflection, so have I.

As I have cause or am prompted to reflect further, I intend to do so here. I may ask more questions than I answer. But it's more important than ever that they be asked as fast as they come to mind. While the day-to-day reflections will stop for now, the journey is far from over. It is resuming anew. I continue to pray for opportunities, especially for us both, that will build on where we have been and where we hope to go.

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