Aloha Friday Message – May 22, 2015 – Fire in the Whole!

1521AFC052215 – Fire in the Whole!

Read it online here, please.

Matthew 3:11 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

This coming Sunday will be an exciting day for the Church, and especially exciting for Crucita and me as we wrap up the Mystagogy studies with our RCIA for Children. It is one of the few Sundays for which the liturgical vestments and decorations are red. It is Pentecost Sunday, and it is the day the Church began its mission. The Holy Spirit came to the Disciples of Jesus. We, too, are Disciples “if only the Spirit of God” dwells in us. (See Romans 8:9 by following that link.) Everyone chosen in the Spirit is the dwelling place of God. We should remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:16 – 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

What does this phrase mean? “When the day of Pentecost had come?” Let’s look a little into what Pentecost is all about.

We begin by turning to Leviticus 23 where God is telling Moses about the feast days he wants celebrated. Leviticus is the third book of the Bible after Genesis and Exodus and the middle book of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The name Leviticus refers to the fact that most of the content of this book is the Policy and Procedure Manual for the Tribe of Levi, the Priestly Tribe. There are 27 chapters of rules, advice, and information on topics like sacrificial offerings, purity, holiness, the prescribed conduct and values for priesthood, rules for the sanctuary, and definitions and procedures for all of the feast days. In chapter 23, there are several feasts listed. They are given in the order in which they are to be observed and there is information on preparations for each and in some cases the reasons for the feasts and the rules that go with them.

Here are the feasts described in chapter 23, the section of Leviticus devoted to “Holiness Laws.” The Sabbath is described and then come other annual memorials. First comes Passover. Next is the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins the day after Passover and lasts one week. During that time, Israelites ate unleavened bread. Then comes the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after Passover’s Sabbath, a Festival of Harvest and thanksgiving to God for the blessings of food. This was an offering made in hopes of further blessings from God. Usually this would be barley as it is one of the first grains to ripen.

Then there is the Festival of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah which commemorates the creation of the world. No work was to be done on that day and all of Israel was to bring offerings to the temple when they heard the blast from the trumpets. This is the fifth of the Seven Feasts. The Feast of Trumpets begins on the first day of the seventh month. It is the opening Festival of the “High Holy Days.” These three feasts )Feast of the Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement – Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles – Succoth) bring to a close the Liturgical Year of Israel and foreshadow the Plan of Redemption made manifest in Jesus. So, the seven feast are:

  1. Passover (Pesach)
    2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi)
    3. Firstfruits (Yom Habikkurim)
    4. Pentecost (Shavu’ot) The Feast of Weeks or Festival of Harvest
    5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah)
    6. Atonement (Yom Kippur)
    7. Tablenacles (Succoth)

Pentecost is literally the centerpiece of the Feasts. It is described in Leviticus 23:15-22. There was a period of seven weeks – a week of Sabbaths – that were measured off. On the day after the end of the seven weeks – the fiftieth day, a celebration was prescribed by God. The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek term for the celebration, Πεντηκοστή ἡμέρα (pentekoste hemera) which means fiftieth day. The offering for that day consisted of two loaves of finest yeast bread made from the finest flour, seven one-year-old lambs, one bull, and two rams offered as burnt offerings. Verse 19 says, “Then you must offer one male goat as a sin offering and two one-year-old male lambs as a peace offering.” It is also in this passage that the directive to allow for gleaning. It was the law of gleaning that brought Ruth and Boaz together. That’s for another lesson, though.

Jesus was crucified during the Feast of the Lord’s Passover, and he ascended 40 days after his resurrection. The Holy Spirit came 50 days after the Resurrection, which was of course, 10 days after the Ascension. Because of the importance of this feast, which God said, “This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed wherever you live,” Jews of many nations would be gathered in Jerusalem in pilgrimage for this festival. When Peter, therefore, with the Holy Spirit rushing upon him and the other apostles stood up and addressed the crowd that had gathered around the place where the disciples were staying, persons of many languages and cultures were attracted to these curious events. The “tongues as of fire” are a fulfillment of John the Baptist’s prophecy of Jesus: “He will baptize you with Fire.” The parallel here is that God validated the Law given on Mount Sinai to Moses with fire (Exodus 19:16-18), and in the New Covenant, validated the arrival of the Paraclete with fire as well. Whereas in the First Covenant the fire was only in one place, in the New Covenant it was in many people.

The Feast of Firstfruits stands as a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Christ as the “first fruits of them that sleep” (1 Cor. 15:20) in the expectation of further blessings from God – an even greater harvest. Pentecost foreshadows the coming of the Spirit, and the resultant harvest as the beginning of the “High Holy Days” of the Church.

Rosh Hashanah – which literally means “head of the year” in Hebrew – prefigures the Resurrection, the sounding of the trumpets and the dead being raised as Paul described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58. This is one of my favorite Bible passages because it is one of my favorite solos in Handel’s Messiah. I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it right now!

Yom Kippur was the singularly unique event of the year in which the Most Sacred space in the Temple, the Holy of Holies (or “the Most Holy Place”), was entered. In a previous Aloha Friday Message I stated that it was where the Ark of the Covenant was the location for the Sh’khinah Glory of God to reside. God’s presence literally inhabited the area above the Ark, and no one was permitted into the Most Holy Place except on Yom Kippur and in the precise manner which God had established. It was on this day that the sins of the whole nation were considered atoned – expiated, wiped out, redressed – for the preceding year. With Jesus’ Atonement, the sins of all time are wiped out forever.

So, now we know a bit more about why Pentecost is called Pentecost, why everyone was in Jerusalem at the time, why it is 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Ascension. And we know why and how it relates to the Seven Great Feasts God told Moses and the Levites to establish forever for the people of Israel. As we are the adopted children of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Life, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, we really should know how these feasts came about and why they are important to us. But there is one more reason this is such an exciting Sunday.

Pentecost is the Birthday of The Church!

It was the arrival of the Advocate, the Paraclete – παράκλητον parakletos {par-ak’-lay-tos} the Comforter, and Intercessor who could speak the language of God in prayer: The Holy Spirit, the Bond of Love between God the Father and God the Son. The Holy Spirit is one who is summoned, called to our side to help us. He is the One who pleads our cause before a judge, a counsel for the defense against The Accuser. He is our legal representative at the Time of Judgment, an advocate whose Wisdom, Power, and Glory are from everlasting to everlasting.

Day_of_Pentecost_1351-43Beloved, there is a New Pentecost blazing through the church today. How does one become part of that rebirth? The same way it happened in The Way: Repent, be baptized, and receive the Spirit. You may say, “I try to be good and seek forgiveness when I’m not. I was Baptized as a child, and I know I belong to God because Original Sin was removed. And the Holy Spirit is always with me – as Jesus said – until the end of the age. I’m not missing anything by not feeling religious ecstasy.” Perhaps not, but perhaps you might. Repentance is always a tough one because it seems so repetitious; we’re never done with it because we’re never really done with sin. Baptism is something we could think a little differently about, though. There is the liturgical, sacramental Baptism we take as the entry into the Body of Christ; but there is another, deeper sense of it as well. It means – literally – to be immersed. Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38b) Jesus was immersed in the baptism of his Passion. We are also to be immersed in the living of our faith, and in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a continuous state. It is not just a fixed moment in time, a single event in our lifetime; it is an ongoing process of renewal, submission, exultation, and action happening as we are fully aware of its source, its purpose, and its effects – the Gifts and Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Let us see the Whole Church ablaze with Holy Fire! Stand up for God and shout “FIRE IN THE WHOLE!” He is for you and with you always and all ways for all time.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved!

Romans 15:13 – 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) http://biblehub.com
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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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