Gathered in One Spirit and Mission

Last Sunday was an extraordinary celebration of faith and common mission at Holy Comforter. It doesn’t get much better on Pentecost than having a former Bishop of Jerusalem as your celebrant and preacher.  Bishop Samir Kafity graced us with inspiring and confident words as we renewed our baptismal promises to engage God’s mission in the world today.  It was also an added pleasure to welcome Canon John Peterson, former Secretary General of the Anglican Communion and dear friend of Bishop Kafity. I can say that Mthr. Libby, Fr. Jody, and I felt honored to be in the company of such distinguished and globally aware servants of God.  Their joy and sense of humor was infectious!

In Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, the long Arab-Israeli conflict continues to take a dramatic toll on Palestinians. Political turmoil and socio-economic pressures have led to an increasingly sharp decline of the indigenous Palestinian Christian population. By way of comparison, Palestinian Christians represented approximately 23% of the total (non-Jewish) population of pre-1948 Palestine. Now they make up less than 2% of the population and face possible extinction as a result of these sharply declining rates in the course of the next few decades, most notably in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Bishop Kafity reminded us of the importance of preserving a living indigenous Christian presence in the Holy Land and the Middle East. We know all too sadly, that the Christian presence is threatened by those who are consumed with extremism. It is clear that the Christian community in the Holy Land has a crucial role to play as a moderating element in the social and cultural fabric of the Middle East and they deserve our continuing prayers and support.

In gratitude for Bishop Kafity’s ministry, our Diocesan Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, asked that the loose offering from Sunday’s liturgy be designated to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.  AFEDJ raises funds for and promotes the humanitarian work of the Diocese of Jerusalem and its institutions so that it may better serve in building bridges of dialogue, peace and understanding between East and West, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

It was a Pentecost I shall not long forget.

Spirited Christianity

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the third great feast of the church year after Christmas and Easter for which the Church of the Holy Comforter is named. It reenacts the story of a small group of disciples who were still confused and adrift after the death and resurrection of their Lord. All they knew to do was to keep their routines, getting together, waiting, and hoping that God would do something new. They did not have to wait long.

Into that quiet room where the disciples gathered, St. Luke tells us there came a sound like the rush of an irresistible wind, tongues of fire in the air, and a startling capacity for the disciples to be able to speak in other languages (Acts 2:1-13). It was as if the life of the Spirit had been smoldering within them all along, waiting to be released. God breathed on the disciples and they knew the Holy Spirit as God’s energizing presence among them. They found themselves growing. Such “spirited Christianity” began at Pentecost. This does not mean that we must undergo some ecstatic Pentecostal experience in order to become a spirited follower of God.  It does mean that we can receive and continually know Christ’s personal presence, awakening our minds and hearts to the adventure, wisdom, and peace that moves us beyond ourselves into engagement with God’s mission in the world. Anglican priest and author, Dave Tomlinson writes:

Our postmodern world longs for numinosity: for a sense of awe and mystery, for sacredness, spirituality and enchantment, for something ‘more’ than the purely rational or cerebral. If the Church fails to engage and cater to this longing, it has no real future (From “Re-enchanting Christianity“).

At Holy Comforter, we are growing in our awareness that we cannot simply rest and wait for people to cross our threshold. We are called to engage with those in our immediate surroundings who are longing for something ‘more’ in their lives.  As Episcopalians we know we must become better conversation partners with those who want to explore questions of faith and purpose. We have a unique balance of mystery and rootedness to offer those who seek a spirituality that grapples honestly with our contemporary experience in the world. We often conclude the liturgy with these words: “Let us go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Oh, that it were so!

It’s Pentecost

Working sponsored by Luther Seminary offers this Video with insightful commentary that a certain preacher may include in his sermon this Sunday.

On A Happier Note

Two of the most prolific and successful recording artists of all time are close friends and are together again.  To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of a venue that calls itself home to such notables as Elton John, The Eagles, and Joni Mitchell. Carole King and James Taylor performed there together in November of 1970 and again in November of 2007.  Carole King and James Taylor — Live at the Troubadour is a CD/DVD collection of fifteen classic numbers chosen from the 2007 shows.

It’s great to hear Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar and Russell Kunkel as the back up band again.   Wonderful commentary between the songs expressing the deep connection these two folk icons have with their fans.  This enduring music will put a smile on your face and quicken your step.  Go on, you know you need it. iTunes