by the Rev. Ray Hess
On May 20th, we will celebrate the third major feast day of the church year – the Day of
Pentecost. This is least known of the major feast days. Christmas and Easter are very well known, but many people have no idea about the meaning of Pentecost.
The Day of Pentecost is about the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the early followers of Jesus. According to the author of Luke and Acts, the disciples were in Jerusalem on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost, a spring harvest festival that is fifty days after Passover. As the disciples gathered together, there was a rush of wind that filled the house, tongues of fire rested on each of them, and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. They were able to praise God in various other languages. People gathered around the house could hear them speaking in the native language of each one.
Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church. The coming of the Spirit empowered the first disciples to do the mission of Jesus – to preach, teach, and heal as Jesus did in his ministry. The presence of the Holy Spirit is described in various ways in the New Testament. The common meaning is that God is present and active in our lives, not far off in a distant way, but within us in a very personal, intimate way. The Holy Spirit knows no boundaries. People in all cultures and nations can know God’s presence through the Spirit.
Pentecost Sunday is a powerful reminder to us at St. George’s that God is present with us, both as a Christian community and individually. The power and guidance of God is available to each of us.
It makes all the difference for us as a parish to be open to the guidance, love, and power of the Holy Spirit.
I wish us all a powerful experience of the Spirit this Pentecost!
by the Rev. Bob Olsen
Pentecost Sunday is coming up on May 20th, please remember to wear red that day, as a symbol of the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Also, on that day at the end of the Gospel, I am looking for volunteers to say John 3:16 in different languages all at the same time, similar to that reported in Acts when the disciples spoke in languages that all could understand.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
We will be doing this at both services so please let me know if you’d like to participate, at which service and in what language.
by Vicki Karsten
At St. George’s we have a tradition of Flowering the Cross for Easter. This is an ancient tradition among Christians. As worshipers bring beautiful, live, fragrant flowers to adorn the cross, eventually the cross becomes covered in a brilliant array of color, light and lovely fragrance. A symbol of death, darkness, pain and hopelessness is transformed into something beautiful, new and alive in celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. Together, we can transform the cross and help make this Easter a celebration of new life.
We look forward once more to the Flowering the Cross on Easter Sunday, April 1 at both the 9:00 am and 10:30 am services.
Please bring any flowers that day that you have to share in this beautiful tradition. All members of the congregation will be invited to participate in decorating the cross on Easter as a part of the service.
The Great Vigil takes place on Easter Eve. It begins with the church in darkness, like the darkness of Jesus’ tomb. Then candles are lit, representing the Light of Christ which overcomes death and all darkness. A beautiful prayer about the Light of Christ is said or sung. Then there is a series of readings from the Hebrew Scripture about the work of God through history, leading to the coming of Jesus. After this, the first Eucharist of Easter begins, with baptisms (if there are people to be baptized). At the conclusion of the service, there is usually a wonderful fellowship time.
The Great Vigil goes back to the early church, when the Vigil started on Easter Eve and continued to Easter Morning. We do the short version!
In our congregation, we have been rotating the Vigil among local churches. This year, we will be hosting the Vigil at St. George’s. Please come join in one of the glorious liturgies of the Church Year!
by the Rev. Ray Hess
When Deborah and I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Bishop Beisner a few years ago, we were able to walk the Way of the Cross through Jerusalem. There are lots of tourist shops along the way now, but it may not be that different from Jesus’ day. Jerusalem was a city for pilgrims in his time, too. As Jesus went along the path through the city, people probably were busy doing business or other affairs. Some may have looked up for a minute to see the poor soul going on the way to his death. Most would not have any idea of the meaning of that event which changed the world.
Every Holy Week, we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus along the Way of the Cross. We won’t literally walk through Jerusalem, but we can walk with Jesus as we experience the worship services of Holy Week. The week begins with Palm Sunday and the remembrance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and then the drama of Jesus’ death as we read the passion narrative. On Maundy Thursday, we will have a meal together and do the foot/hand washing as we relive Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. Good Friday we will remember Jesus’ death for us on the cross. Easter Eve, we will have the powerful and beautiful Great Vigil of Easter, which we are hosting this year. On Easter morning, we will rejoice with the news of Jesus’ resurrection.
I encourage you to be a part of as many of these Holy Week services as possible. Doing this gives us the feeling of being pilgrims with Jesus on the last week of his earthly life. If you can’t attend some of the services, you can remember the events of Jesus’ last week on your own at home. This is the most important week of the year for us as we follow Jesus. May this be a time for renewed faith in him and a powerful spiritual experience for each of us!
by the Rev. Raymond Hess
Lent, already! I feel as if we are just done with Christmas, and here comes Lent. This year, Easter is early on April 1st, and this results in an early Lent. Ash Wednesday is February 14, an interesting combination of the start of Lent and Valentine’s Day. Easter Day is April Fool’s Day and our 40th wedding anniversary for Deborah and me, another interesting combination.
There is a clear theme for Lent this year – love. Valentine’s Day is about love, and the Lenten Season is really about love – God’s love for us in Jesus. Lent sometimes can seem to be a very somber season about penitence and confessing our sins. There is a serious, reflective aspect to Lent. It is important to take a look at our lives and see where we are in our relationship with God. Underlying all this, though, is God’s love. Coming back to God is always good because God is waiting for us with love. God’s love wants the best for us, wants us to be the people God created us to be.
I like the idea of Easter’s being on April 1st. This has special meaning for Deb and me in celebrating our 40th anniversary. We were married on that day at All Saint’s, Carmel because that year it was the Saturday after Easter, a great time to be married with all the lilies still in the church. It just happened to be April Fool’s Day! Easter is about God’s foolish love for us, seen in Jesus being willing to die on the cross for us. God did not hang back and play it safe, but entered human life in Jesus, who emptied himself for us (see Philippians 2:5-11). We are called to respond in foolish love for God and God’s world. Be fools for Christ!
This year, we begin our Lenten journey in love and continue all the way to Easter, celebrating in God’s incredible and foolish love for us. Come join in this journey of love!