• Epistle Reading (Acts 2:1-11)
  • Gospel Reading (John 7:37-52;8:12)
  • In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Today is the great and holy feast of Pentecost. Of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world in a new and dynamic way—to abide in the followers of Christ. Pentecost is the “last and great day” in the liturgical cycle of the Church. Christ’s Incarnation is aimed at the final victory over death and the coming of the Spirit into the hearts of men. So Pentecost is the fulfillment of the final goal of the Incarnation of Christ. And is, in a sense, the end – the completion and fulfillment of salvation history. With Pentecost the Divine work of the world’s redemption has been completed. The coming of the Spirit of God into the world was foretold since the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we have the story of man’s creation, his falling away from God, and God’s preparation of the world for salvation through the Jewish people. All of the OT points to Christ, and all of Christ’s life is for man’s salvation. God being born in the world as a human child, His earthly ministry and training of His Apostles, and ultimately His Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. And the fullness of the life that Christ brings is given, all of the gifts God gives to men, are given in the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. At Pentecost, the Apostles are no longer simply the friends and follows of Christ, but by the power of the Holy Spirit they are made to be members of Christ. They are united to the Body of Christ, which is His Church. In our Baptism we put on Christ, and in our Chrismation we are clothed with power from on high, as Christ promised His Apostles. We are clothed with the Holy Spirit—He fills every fiber of our being with the presence of God. This is the final act of God for mans salvation—to come and abide in us. As we pray in the prayer “O Heavenly King.” We haven’t said that prayer since Pascha, and we begin to say it again at Pentecost because it is a prayer of the Holy Spirit. The “Heavenly King” is God. The “Comforter” is promised by Christ, He will send the Comforter to bring the comfort of the presence of God to His people, and to witness to the soul the security of her salvation (as St. Silouan the Athonite writes). “Spirit of Truth,” the Spirit comes to lead the Apostles and us into all Truth. “Everywhere present and filling all things” since the beginning of Creation. But now we pray “come and abide in us”—God the Holy Spirit comes to make His home in us. And we know that where One of the Holy Trinity is present, all of the Trinity is present. The whole of God comes to unite us to Himself not as a simple outward union, but a union of co-dwelling. God lives in us, and we in God. This is God’s “final act” of salvation history—the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And from this moment on, the Church is sent into the world to bring the light and life of Christ to a dying generation. And not sent out on Her own, but clothed and filled with the very presence and life of God. What more can God do for our salvation than to offer to come and live in us, and guide us and fill us? This is the fullness of human life. After the dismissal from this Liturgy we’ll immediately serve the Vespers of Pentecost, which contain “the kneeling prayers of Pentecost.” From the time of the celebration of Holy Pascha through the Feast of the Ascension until now, the Christian Church doesn’t kneel. We don’t make prostrations during this time of feasting, during the time of the presence of the Bridegroom. But after we are made members of Christ by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Church is sent into the world. The Apostles left off the feasting and immediately gave themselves to teaching and to persecutions after Pentecost. And as Christ said, the Apostles will fast when the Bridegroom is no longer present. The members of His Body will live the life of asceticism—fasting and beseeching God in prayer on bended knee. Listen very carefully to our petitions during the kneeling prayers. The first prayer is of repentance and for forgiveness of our sins. The second prayer is an appeal to the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us on our path through the darkness of this world. And the third prayer remembers the departed, and the grace of God which offers all men a chance to be saved, to spend eternity with Christ. As we re-enter ordinary time, as the Church enters the world full of God’s Holy Spirit, may we all give ourselves fully to indwelling of God’s grace, so that not only we but all those around us may be led to share with Christ in His Heavenly Kingdom. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

    Photo of the parish I am assigned to decorated at Pentecost 2007.