What is Pentecostal: The Beginning of the Church is more than an Adjective
A post for the Great Feast Day of Pentecost
Many web-surfers out there browse for the term “what is pentecostal.” In fact, there are more than one million hits on this term per month reported globally by Google. If you were to research the term “what is Pentecost,” however, it would be nearly one quarter that many. I thought it would be appropriate to use this as an example in my Feast Day post for Pentecost, which will be celebrated this Sunday, 50 days after Easter (Pascha). You see, to Orthodox Christians and other church organizations (denominations) who appreciate the importance of the sacraments as being much more than symbolism for our faith, the analogy that Pentecost is more than an adjective (pentecostal, for example) could not be more evident in this major Church celebration and feast.
It is usually my position that, when I write any blog post, that I steer clear of any “politics” that could offend or alienate another church organization aside from one that I am attuned to, so please forgive me in advance but do give me the chance to at least explain my position with an objectivity, which uses the example above as its context. I will be the first to admit that we are still bound by so much more than which church we attend and that, despite a varying degree of interpretation, we should still find each other close by in an eternity of holy presence… although I will also admit that this position of being irregardless bound is not shared by all who hold the same viewpoint as I do on sacraments and symbolism.
We celebrate Pentecost now 50 days following the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now lived through the Paschal (ok, you caught me using an adjective) season and top off another 50 days of remembrance with the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, and in breathing during this time we have witnessed again God’s revelation of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit descended upon His Disciples, as other followers of Christ watched as “clove tongues of fire” swept through. In an end result, the disciples spoke in foreign tongues in a miraculous fashion and so now we celebrate Pentecost today as a receipt of the “seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” which we can associate as well with the sacrament of Chrismation. All of this, now intertwined, gives us a scope to view – in which we can humbly understand with our meek yet primitive intelligence – that allows us to keep forever God’s promise close to us until the Last Day. And many view this as the beginning of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, where His Son’s mission has been completed, and the ultimate sacrifice, being more than a symbol, is the reality we know in the work of the Trinity. I could not imagine God to have not had a point in what He accomplished that would result in anything less than a true Theosis: a verb, not an adjective; an event where we have realized our connection to Him after a long struggle through faith in sin and torture. No, I could not imagine it otherwise, although I will be the first to admit (again) my human mind could be in error and I will ask for God’s forgiveness in my ongoing journey to balance the necessity for interpretation with a naive child-like perception imbued with trust and faith.
This state of being with Him, in this balance, is thus certainly more than an adjective and as we are (are as in “to be; existing”) in the image of Him so He too, along with His creation and work and plans, must be also so much more in essence.
So, we have “what is” Pentecost, rather than only a “what is pentecostal” feast or day of celebration, and with that we can glean a bit of confidence in our direction toward him. This idea of movement would not simply be an expression to justify an evolution in the dogmatic theory of our relationship to Him, developed by our Church’s fathers, but yet it is a true gift that was given to us by Him – a gift that is tangibly able to affect us as we are still material on earth. Without these sacraments and gifts being much more than a type of symbolism, then I would be inclined to be rather afraid at the potential for my past, present and future feeling of connectivity toward the divine as being nothing more than an irrelevant consequence of chance at which it would therefore be evident that, no matter what I did or felt, effort was for naught and salvation was instead “salvational.”
Love in Christ,