Saturday, May 26, 2007

Waiting and Watching

As tonight fades into tomorrow, the Christian world will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. This is one of the top high holy days of the Christian calendar - and a favorite of mine - that marks the time when, 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus (Easter), the disciples were doing what they were told. They were waiting, huddled together in that same upper room where they had shared the Passover Meal with Jesus almost 2 months earlier and where they had seen the risen Christ eat a piece of fish.

I'm sitting here tonight, temporarily churchless. Last Sunday marked my final day serving with the people of St. David's and my new post at Christ Church won't officially begin until the end of July. I've been trying to decide where to spend tomorrow....and I'm torn.

On the one hand, I'd really like to visit one of the remnant churches here in Virginia in a show of support - like the group from The Falls Church that is meeting at a nearby Presbyterian church. And I will visit them on some Sunday during this time apart that I have. But, tomorrow is such a big day...such a big party day...I'm kinda leaning towards going to the National Cathedral for a big hoopla of a Feast Day. I've decided to just rest with the decision tonight and see where I'm led in the morning. In the meantime though, all this thinking's got me thinking.

I can't imagine what that time of waiting must have been like for the disciples crowded in that upper room with close companions. Would there have been a party-like atmosphere as they eagerly anticipated Jesus' promise fulfilled - maybe like a surprise party as they waited for the guest of honor to show up? You know, lots of people trying to sit really still but they can't help making funny comments to try to get someone else to laugh out loud while the biggest worrier keeps making shushing noises...false alarms..."I hear him!"..."no, that was just the man downstairs coming back from his mother's house..."

Or, would they have all been sitting solemnly, afraid to look at each other too much out of reverent and holy fear? What did they think would happen? The last time that the "Holy Spirit came upon" someone, Mary got preggers...what did they think about this terminology? What did they think it woul mean for them?

Or were they just bored in that "arewethereyet? arewethereyet?" kind of way?

The one thing we are told in the opening chapter of the Book of Acts is that while they were waiting they devoted themselves to prayer - and that the disciples who were gathered were - get this - men and women...and - now get this - that they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit - all wearing flames on their heads, which, incidentally, is what a bishop's miter is symbolic of (click here to see a photo of one from an earlier post).

Some icons depicting the Pentecost Event have Mary front and center (like the one from Mexico in the sidebar above). However, strangely there are several - including the Orthodox version - that not only exclude the women from the depiction, but include Paul and Mark, neither of whom were there!

Now, icons are supposed to be metaphorical "windows" to God. They are heavily laden with symbols to express realities that can't be captured in a realism styled drawing.

But the fact that the women are excluded from these Orthodox icons has got me wondering yet again - and that wondering is part of the reason, I think, why I'm hesitating to go to The Falls Church remnant gathering tomorrow. If I go, I know I'll go in my civies, not my clerical collar, which on the one hand is perfectly fine - by design they're not exactly comfortable - I'm glad to have this break.

But what bothers me is what is not fine about the decision not to wear the collar: If I did show up there in clericals, I might be seen as a real interloper - someone who is being intentionally antagonistic, because even this remnant group are conservative enough that they rejected the offer by some local clergy women to come and serve them as priest when they were regrouping. And that just all seems very anti-Pentecost to me.

So...I just don't know. I'm going to have to sleep on it.

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