Monday, May 12, 2008

Pentecost 2008

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday (known by many in the Anglican tradition as "Whitsunday") when we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church as recorded in Acts 2.

And I have a confession to make. I pinched a good story to illustrate the abundance of God's provision for us, and our failure to avail ourselves of that provision.

"At the beginning of the last century a family from southern Italy emigrated to the United States. Not having enough money to pay for meals at restaurants, they took bread and cheese with them for the trip. As the days and weeks passed the bread became stale and the cheese mouldy; at a certain point their child could not take it anymore and could do nothing but cry.


"The parents took the last bit of money that they had and gave it to him so that he could hav
e a nice meal at a restaurant. The child went, ate and came back to his parents in tears. The parents asked: 'We have spent all the money we had left to buy you a nice meal and you are still crying?'


"'I am crying because I found out that one meal a day was included in the price and this whole time we have been eating bread and cheese!'


"Many Christians go through life with only "bread and cheese," without joy, without enthusiasm, when they could, spiritually speaking, every day enjoy every good thing of God, it all being included
in the price of being Christians."


Doesn't that just about sum up the way we live as a church and as individuals?


But we're on a journey to glory, a journey that has its fair share of difficulties and heartaches. In order to journey well, we need to know what God has provided for us, and we need to support each other as we learn to draw by faith on that provision each day.


The story I pinched (but not without owning up to it!) came from this year's Pentecost homily of Father Raniero Cantalemessa, the Pope's household preacher. You can read all of it HERE.


Another very famous Pentecost sermon, by Pope St. Leo the Great, is HERE.


On the day of his consecration in Auckland NZ (3rd March 1861) John Coleridge Patteson, the Missionary Bishop of Melanesia (and martyr) preached THIS SERMON on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


Go HERE to read Cardinal Levada's thumbnail history of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, written when he was Archbishop of San Francisco.


And for a highly original twist on the Spirit-inspired languages of Christians see Father Hunwicke's PENTECOST HOMILY. (Actually, his blog is well worth bookmarking!)


A NOTABLE ENGLISHMAN

The Lord raises up people to do his will in all kinds of circumstances. And he raises up notable leaders whose place in history is assured.


One such person is Stephen Langton. Born in England in the late 12th century, he studied in Paris and eventually became a professor at the university there. During that time one of his friends was Lotario de' Conti di Segni who in 1206 as Pope Innocent III made him a Cardinal, and the following year appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury.


However, the English King John refused to recognise Langton, and the latter lived in exile in France for six years. While there he composed (in Latin) the hymn to the Holy Spirit that survives to this day in the Western Church as the Pentecost sequence before the Gospel. Most Anglicans will be familiar with John Mason Neale's English translation:


Come, thou Holy Paraclete;
and from thy celestial seat
send thy light and brilliancy.
Come, thou father of the poor,
come who givest all our store,
come the soul's true radiancy;

Come, of comforters the best,
of the soul the sweetest guest,
sweetly and refreshingly;
Come, in labour rest most sweet,
shade and coolness in the heat,
comfort in adversity.

Thou who art the Light most blest,
come fulfill their inmost breast,
who believe most faithfully;
For without thy Godhead's dower,
man hath nothing in his power,
save to work iniquity;

What is filthy make thou pure,
what is wounded work its cure,
water what is parched and dry;
Gently bend the stubborn will,
warm to life the heart that's chill;
guide who goeth erringly;

Fill thy faithful who adore,
and confess thee evermore,
with thy sevenfold mystery;
Here thy grace and virtue send,
grant salvation in the end,

and in heaven felicity.


It has been said that if all Langton did was to write this hymn, his place in history would be secured. But another project of his changed the lives of all literate Christians for good. Until the 13th century, reading and studying the Bible was difficult even for those who knew the ancient languages. So, in order to help students make exact references to Holy Scripture, Stephen Langton divided the text of each book into chapters and verses. What an enormous debt we owe him! Whenever someone says "John 3:16", "Matthew 6:33", or "Galatians 2:20" (or refers to any other passage of God's Word like that) you should pause and thank God for Langton's meticulous work.


When Langton returned from exile and settled into his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, he realised that the King was ruling the country in a completely unjust and arbitrary way. It was Langton who in June 1215 called the barons together at Runnymede to see what they could do. As Cardinal Archbishop he assisted them in creating a document which outlined the rights of the people, dealing with things like taxation and due process, and not neglecting legal protections for the Church. This document is the MAGNA CARTA, the real beginning of English democracy. So, even today's secular people who value democratic principles owe Langton a huge debt. What a man!


At Pentecost we ask the Lord to renew us in the Holy Spirit, to give us a fresh infilling of his power and love so that we can be more effective in living for and witnessing to Jesus in our "post-Christian" society. So (although all the hymns were properly traditional, as you would expect of us!) we sang this quiet little chorus after receiving Holy Communion:


Come, Holy Spirit, we need thee.
Come, Holy Spirit we pray.
Come in thy strength and thy power.
Come in thine own gentle way.

Come as the wisdom to children.
Come as new sight to the blind.
Come, Lord, as strength in our weakness.
Heal us, soul, body and mind.


I grant you it's not great poetry, but when sung it is beautiful, helping us all to be open to the Holy Spirit.


A BAPTISM

Not only did we celebrate Pentecost yesterday, we had the baptism of Kye Hugo Mallory, the son of Justin and Philippa Mallory (and grandson of Neville and Chris Rohrlach). Pentecost is one of the traditional Sundays for baptisms in church, so everyone was pleased to welcome Kye's Godparents and other visitors. Here are some photos:


. . . AND FROM LAST WEEK

In the afternoon of Saturday 3rd May (i.e. following Fr Stephen Hill's ordination), I had the joy of baptizing Caleb William Forbes Hoyle at St. Stephen's Coomera. Today an email arrived from Damian and Nicole Hoyle containing this photo taken after the baptism. Here is Caleb with his parents and big brother Grayden:

2 comments:

Andrew Teather said...

Dear +David, good to see another orthodox Anglican blog! I have linked to you from my blog, www.anglicanwanderings.blogspot.com

in Dno,
Andrew.

BrB said...

Oh what a beautiul family.

It is always a blessing to see a full family in communion with our Lord.

Blessings BrB +

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