The Feast of Pentecost :: Happy Birthday!

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Morning reflections

I don’t recall going to many birthday parties when I was growing up. I’m not sure if that’s because I was unpopular or because most kids didn’t have birthday parties [I choose to believe the latter reason!]. There was that one time I was at a party bobbing for apples and someone held my head under the water for a long time. But, now that I think of it, that wasn’t a birthday party, it was a Halloween party. I just don’t recall birthday parties.

Of course, maybe I can’t remember going to any parties because I never had a birthday party growing up. Having been born in August, I can see why: it’s hard to throw a party during summer vacation. Everyone is gone. It’s so much easier when school is going on. Now there was that one summer when our family celebrated my birthday at Six Flags. That was great fun. But it wasn’t a real party, per se. I mean families have to celebrate your birthday, don’t they?

Of course what I missed most about not having a party on my birthday was not getting all those great presents I envisioned would come my way. One guest, one present. Couldn’t get any better than that!But I missed out on that. I was stuck with only about ten presents or so from family. In my childhood imagination, my friends received dozens, nay, hundreds of presents at their parties. They probably even had a clown or a magician or a pony ride, too.

The Feast of Pentecost is recognized by many Christians as the “birthday” of the church: the day when the Holy Spirit came upon those first disciples in Jerusalem, filling them with power and strange speech. We see this reception of God’s Spirit as a gift to the church—and what a wonderful gift it is. But what if we also looked upon our “birthday” as a day in which we present gifts to others? What if we—filled with Spirit—were to go into our communities healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless? And more. What if we—filled with Spirit—were to work tirelessly to correct the systemic ills of society which bring about illness, hunger, deprivation, and isolation? What if we—the Church—instead of merely rejoicing at the gifts we’ve been given, we use those gifts in service to those around us? Maybe that’d make every day a birthday party!

Something to ponder:

What gift would you give?


Link to RCL Lectionary for Pentecost

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