Reflection Masthead
Issue 175 - Pentecost - May 2018
Pentecost Ties
May 20 was Pentecost, so I wore my Pentecost tie. As you can see from the photo, a white dove, symbol of the Spirit, soars against a black background. Spiraling bands of red, gray and white evoke the tongues of fire that accompanied the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost.
For me, there is a deeper symbolism as well. The tie was a gift from a church member, some fifteen years ago. It is link to that congregation, especially, but it also reminds me of the links - the ties, if you will pardon the pun - to all the congregations where I have worshiped and served, from Texas to Maine, from Oregon to Germany.
The day after Pentecost, Jan and I made a presentation to the Spiritual Directors Community, in Austin, Texas, about praying with icons. The spiritual directors are an ecumenical group, Baptist and Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Episcopalian. Our program focused on icons from the Russian Orthodox church.
We are certainly a diverse lot, we Christians, worshiping in different styles, holding differing opinions. This is something to celebrate! As one of the leaders of my denomination put it, more than century ago, striving for a single opinion in the church makes about as much sense as striving for a single note in music. All the notes on the scale, and all the instruments in the orchestra, are called to join in our symphony of praise to God.
The apostle Paul recognized this long ago, writing, "There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord. There are varieties of activity, but in all of them and in everyone the same God is active. In each of us the Spirit is seen to be at work for some useful purpose" (1 Cor. 12: 4-7 REB).
This Pentecost, I give thanks for the variety of the Spirit's gifts that I have encountered in many different communities of faith. I give thanks for my Pentecost ties.   --by Bill 

Spirit Bearing Witness  
          The most brilliant memory I have of the Holy Spirit is the Pentecost I experienced - it was an experience like no other. On that June 1 Sunday about 20 years ago, St. Pius X Church in Tucson, AZ, was brimming with red. Red flowers, red clothing, red banners. As the liturgical readings about the Spirit were being proclaimed, the sound of blowing wind swirled about the church. I felt "caught up" in the movement of the Spirit that morning in that church. Since then, I have come to understand that every day can be a Pentecost if we raise our awareness to the Spirit among us.
          Sometimes people think of the Spirit as abstract and unknowable. Yet the Apostle Paul reminds us that when we cry "'Abba! Father! it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God..." (Romans 8: 15-16) As children, then, we are all one family. Today we happily celebrated the Spirit again, this Trinity Sunday, closing our annual Benedictine retreat. Once again, the Spirit appeared almost visibly at St Scholastica Monastery in Boerne, Texas, where we renewed our annual commitment as Benedictine Oblates. Our family of fellow Oblates - Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, and others - who try to follow the ancient monastic Rule of Benedict: Ora et Labora, that is, praying Holy Scripture in a spirit of hospitality and accepting everyone we meet as Christ.
          I wonder when we all, Oblates and children of God, arrive at the Pearly Gates, will the ticket-taker ask, "Methodist?" "Catholic?" "Lutheran?" and usher us into differ rooms? Then the dinner bell rings and will we dine at one table or will there be table markers separating us into denominations? The Spirit I have come to know will simply say, "Welcome to the Heavenly Banquet." And there we will sit with our dear Abba Father and his son Jesus Christ. Of course, the Spirit will be there. As the Spirit is always here with us now.

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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries