The Day of Pentecost
June 5, 2022
On Sunday we will celebrate the Day of Pentecost and, for the first time in three years, the visit of a bishop to Grace Church. In the reading from the Book of Acts (2:1-21) we’ll hear how the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples of Jesus. They heard a sound like the rush of a mighty wind. They began speaking in different languages. A divided tongue, or flame of fire appeared atop the head of each disciple. The disciples and the early church experienced in themselves divine power with a unique, familiar personality: the personality of Jesus. It was the Spirit of Jesus, who launched the church on a mission to reach every part of the earth with the gospel of love and peace. Initially, the twelve disciples (minus Judas, but plus Matthias) presided over the Christian movement as the first bishops. From earliest times bishops have worn a peculiar hat called a mitre, and you will see one atop the head of Bishop Mary Glasspool this Sunday. The origin of the mitre is obscure, but one theory is that it represents the flame of fire above the heads of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.
When Grace Church was established in 1808 one of the first actions of the Vestry was the design of an official seal for the corporation. What they settled upon was a bishop’s mitre atop a Bible. If you look in the south transept you’ll find four plaster molds of the seal around the large stained glass window. Also, in the rectory I’ve noticed a small but brilliant stained glass window on the second floor that depicts the seal.
Here you can clearly see the mitre and Bible. Note the balance of the symbolism. As a church we are grounded in the Scriptures, but we are not Biblical literalists. We need the Spirit to guide us into all truth. We need Spirit-filled people to help in the ongoing work of interpreting the Scriptures in every generation.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is hardly meant for bishops alone. God’s will is that all of us become Spirit-filled people who experience the same divine power and presence that walked the earth in Jesus. It should go without saying that our divided, despairing, death-filled world needs an infusion of people who are filled with the power of the Spirit. Thanks be to God, a strong contingent of people will stepping forward this Sunday to receive the Spirit: in baptism at the 9 am service, and confirmation/reception at the 11 am service. Come to support them, and to receive a booster of the Spirit yourself!
See you in church.
The Rev. J. Donald Waring