Pentecost is often called the “birthday of the Church.” When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the holy women on that first Pentecost, the Church was born. These 21 centuries later we are that same Church. As the first disciples were, we are those called to bring the Good News of Jesus to the world. On our “birthday” this year, I want to describe who you are as God’s Church.
You are a people created in the image and likeness of God. Your caring hearts have accomplished more than we could ever have dreamed imaginable. You have raised, fed, clothed and educated your children. You have saved friends on the brink of disaster. You have been generous in supporting the Church. You have given your precious time to carry out the ministry of Jesus through participation in the parish. Perhaps once on the threshold of despair you bounced back because your trusted God’s presence with you. You have been broken by hate, division, misplaced trust, infidelity or some other hurt and let yourself be put back together again by God’s healing love. During the seeming endless months of the pandemic, though anxious and uncertain at times, you have been steadfast in your faith. You have valiantly done what has been asked of you to care for family, friends and countless others, many that you do not even know.
Your loving eyes have looked into someone else’s hopeless eyes and given them a spark of hope. Those eyes have cried tears at the loss of loved ones, yours or somebody else’s. They have wept over other losses, be it jobs or relationships, lost dreams or hopes. Those eyes have also danced and sparkled at times of joy and happiness, again, yours or others.
Your strong and generous hands have gotten sore and bruised from countless hours of hard work. They have warmed the cold hands of those whose lives are cold. They have held the broken body and soul of a pained or hurt lover, relative or friend. Those hands have been raised up in thanks and praise to God. They have held Jesus’ precious body and blood to receive him in the Eucharist.
Centuries ago, Jesus breathed on the apostles and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-21).” As God’s Church, alive with that same Spirit, those caring hearts, loving eyes and strong and generous hands bring the very life of God to a world in need. How beautiful you are, God’s holy people. Happy birthday!
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector