Saturday, 18 May 2013

A Pentecost preamble

The problem with awesome thing about my making a concerted effort to open up the channels of communication with God is that once it kickstarts, things start to happen at a scarily exponential rate. Combined with other efforts I'm making to reboot my lifestyle, prayer and other simple measures are already making my life more spirit filled. I feel God's nurture, even if I haven't let Jesus take me by the hand.

We celebrate Pentecost tomorrow.

Before I had any inkling of God's ministry for me, and taking 1st and 2ndSister to the Family Service on a Sunday morning was generally more struggle than spiritual, I set off for church with them in hand-picked outfits of red and yellow leggings. I don't think I even knew it was the Pentecost celebration, let alone what Pentecost was; I certainly had no idea of the significance of red and yellow symbolising the tongues of fire, and was astounded when we were handed red and yellow ribbons to wave during hymn singing, which matched the children's outfits visually, and (metaphorically) echoed their holy dancing in the aisle!

2008: Me & 1stSister age 3 in her red and yellow clobber
 (& apple, which I'm not reading symbolism into!)

The spirit was with me that day, breathing through my children. The church was filled with holiness, and I came away more fulfilled and refreshed than any other family service before (and possibly since!). I realised that I could take away so much even when trying to supervise little ones - God was there, if only I let Him be.

Tomorrow we celebrate Pentecost again, and I've now got 3rd and 4thSister, aged 2 and a half and 7 weeks, to add into the mix. It isn't a family service, but I'll be with the two littlest in Sunday School, before taking all four to find a pew in church large enough to house us, source service and hymn books, and join in the full service prior to going up to the altar to receive the Eucharist and/or a blessing. Seriously? Re-entering church with the largest family there generally fills me with panic and dread. And this is with children who know church, generally behave and follow the service and appreciate what Holy Communion is. I often think I am crazy putting myself through this, and research easier options (for example last week, I left two children at home with their father, and enjoyed the entire full church service with my babe in arms before 2ndSister came for communion.)

But it's Pentecost. And on Pentecost anything can happen.

It's no coincidence that WordLive posted the passage from the book of Joel that I read today, about people becoming spirit-filled:
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. (Joel 2:28.)
But I feel it's a God-incidence (although I despise that term!) that everything is coming together at a time when I need it most, and the passage went on to inspire me to blog.

Because I missed something out of my reboot Quick Takes yesterday - writing. The spirit inspires me to write, and when I write, I journey (further) with God, and it all makes sense.

What I actually sat down to blog about today, before all the preamble, was how much I loved the Joel passage. Did I mention how much I like the Old Testament in general? There are treasures to be found within, although it can seem scary. Today my thoughts have been lingering over the following:
Even on my servant, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:29) (My emphasis.)
Because, and I know it's a 'historico-cultural' thingy, but I have huge issues with Paul's attitude to women and the early church. And the word from Joel reminded me that God is inclusive. And I need to feel this inclusion right now, as I struggle in this earthly existence, and need regular holy inspiration.

We celebrate Pentecost tomorrow.

Wikipedia told 2ndSister and I yesterday that in Italy, rose petals used to be dropped from the ceilings of churches to symbolise the tongues of fire. In France, trumpets used to be sounded to represent the noise of the wind/breath of the spirit. I see Pentecost in less showy terms. The spirit sneaks up on me when I least expect it (but should perhaps most expect it) - without noise or obviousness, but there nevertheless.

In our twice monthly Pram Service for under-5s we use a wonderful little book called 'Teddy Horsley and the Windy Day'. In it, Teddy sees the wind doing lots of things - blowing washing on the line, shaking leaves from trees, and so on - and he cannot see it, but he knows it is there. Later, he goes to church, and experiences the Holy Spirit - he cannot see it, but he knows it is there.

We celebrate Pentecost tomorrow, and we'll remember how the spirit descended on the disciples. It was a pretty visceral experience for them, and some people may have this jaw-dropping moment. I know taking my red and yellow littles to church was a profound moment in my spiritual journey, and that nothing may ever come close to the surprises of that day. But the spirit also becomes apparent in less visible ways that we just need to tune into, and be open to - whether it's in lifestyle changes, life-changing decisions, everyday routine life or how to help others. We just need to be ready, on Pentecost and every other day, to recognise the Spirit, and embrace her (it/him).....

(And all written without any mention of that stuff about Pentecost being the church's birthday too!)

1 comment:

  1. I am actually not going to church for Pentecost tomorrow. First Sunday I'll have missed in a while actually.

    But I dropped by to say that Paul does say good things about women in the early church -- or at least recognizes them as church leaders, missionaries, etc. I've read that those verses about women keeping silent were in response to a particular question (disputes about authorship aside) ... I don't have time to hunt down the link but the blog is called Wordgazer ... if I get a chance, I'll come back and post a link.