Pentecost! When John and I, as Director of Music and Minister, began our preparations early in the week for this Sunday’s worship time, John mentioned to me ‘Pentecost is a great celebration. Whereas Christmas and Easter have become very much wider-community events, Pentecost remains something precious within the Church’. Precious indeed, for the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit! (Acts 2)
And at almost the same time The Visual Commentary on Scripture http://TheVCS.org introduced me to an 11th century mosaic (above) that fills the dome of the Hoses Loukas monastery chapel in Phokis Greece. I have enjoyed exploring it as I prepared for Sunday’s online worship.
And now I look forward to joining with you in prayer and praise, in reading and reflecting upon scripture … and through it all, celebrating the work of the Holy Spirit in binding us together into the Living Body of the Living Lord. In a time like this, when we are constrained at every turn and know our frailty in every dimension, it is a joy to be reminded that the Church is the the work of the Holy One, whose sovereign will is to embrace us in Jesus Christ and lead us into a new community and humanity of peace and justice.
During the service we will be reading the chapter from our contemporary Canadian Presbyterian statement of faith, Living Faith, about the Holy Spirit in our lives as individuals, in the Church, and in the world.
Saturday May 30, 3 p.m.. Amid the unique challenges and opportunities of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches will gather “together in one place” (Acts 2:1) in ecumenical friendship and prayer this season of Western Pentecost / Eastern Ascension. Prayers, Scripture readings and reflections will be offered in English and French. The sermon will be given by the Rev. Amanda Currie, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Register + learn more on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/together-in-one-place-reunis-tous-ensemble-registration-106001631734
General Assembly This annual gathering of representatives from across our denomination scheduled for the first week of June has been cancelled, and is now scheduled to meet the first week of June 2021. The various committee reports (from Church Doctrine to Mission) that were to be presented this summer are now ‘interim reports’ and can be read here: https://presbyterian.ca/gao/ga2020/
A Video Conversation Our Moderator, the Rev. Amanda Currie, shares reflections on this season of faith and life in conversation with the Rev. Jennifer Cameron of St. Columba Church Belleville (who preached at St. Andrew’s last year) https://youtu.be/oi3HT7-WDTo
This Sunday morning we will take a final look at the high stone St. Martin Cross of the isle of Iona, with a focus upon the distinctive circle at its centre. What might the Celtic Christians have been sharing with us about the Holy One and their lives as they placed that circle on that cross?
A time of prayer and praise, of God’s word in Scripture and sermon, of assurance and commission.
The great ‘high crosses’ of the Celts, like the St. Martin’s Cross that has stood on the island of Iona for 1200 years, were placed outdoors. No doubt there were several reasons for this. Tomorrow we will explore what may be the foundational reason … how this location articulated an important dimension of their Christian faith, and how it might speak to us of the Christian way today.
I conclude with a prayer from the Outer Hebrides, in which the sun is known as ‘the eye of God’. As the people see the sun rise and feel the light and warmth it brings, they are reminded of, they feel, the Holy One looking upon them, ‘gently and generously’ …
The eye of the great God, The eye of the God of glory, The eye of the King of hosts, The eye of the King of the living, Pouring upon us At each time and season, Gently and generously. Glory to thee, Thou glorious sun, Glory to thee, thou sun Face of the God of life. Carmina Gadelica III 307
While we thank God for our continuing health and security, and all who are working for the common good during this time of confinement, these days are long and I thought it might be fun to get out of our ‘leisure wear’, dressing up in our ‘Sunday best’ or even better, and sharing a photo to share the joy.
And several have added a thanksgiving to God for our mothers, sometimes even combining the fancy dress with the gratitude.
When Ralph sent this photo yesterday, he very appropriately entitled it ‘hope’!
With the beginning of a new week of grace, we will gather in Spirit to acknowledge the hope that binds us together in Christ. We will continue to consider the gospel as declared by the ancient high cross of Iona, the St. Martin Cross, carved from one block of stone and standing almost 5 metres tall for over 1200 years. This week we will consider the engravings on both sides of the cross, and how they communicate (and challenge us to grow in) Christian faith.
I conclude with words attributed to Columba, who landed upon Iona in 563 A.D. with 12 friends to share the gospel :
Let me bless almighty God, whose power extends over sea and land and whose angels watch over all. Let me study sacred books to calm my soul. I pray for peace, kneeling at heaven’s gates. Let me do my daily work, gathering seaweed, catching fish, giving food to the poor. Let me say my daily prayers, sometimes chanting, sometimes quiet, always thanking God. Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle, in a quiet room, serving the King of Kings.