When I attend a 50th anniversary celebration of friends, parishioners and family, I’m struck by love in many dimensions. Undoubtedly the enduring love and good fortune of the couple is celebrated, but also felt and visible are all the effects of that love among their family and wider community. Fifty is golden, indeed, and worthy of thanks and celebration.
This weekend the church marks 50 days after Easter, in a festival known as the Day of Pentecost. This celebration holds deep spiritual significance for billions around the globe, as a movement of unity expressed through diversity, a manifestation of the power of love expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and especially in the giving of the Holy Spirit.
The original Day of Pentecost was on the Jewish Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), commemorating the giving of the Torah to the people of Israel. Fifty days after the first Easter, as people observing the Feast of Weeks were gathered in the city of Jerusalem from many nations, the disciples of Jesus experienced a powerful wind. Peter spoke for the disciples, and there was a miracle of hearing in which people who spoke many languages could understand and respond to his words.
Those disciples who had been fearful and bewildered became courageous witnesses for Christ, and thousands who heard responded to the message of the gospel. They became a community of joyful learning, worship, sharing, prayer, life together and care for the poor. The Holy Spirit’s movement made it apparent that this experience was not limited, but included people of all prior religions, ethnicities, languages, cultures and nations. This marks the beginning of the Church.
Today, Pentecost is marked by various churches around the world with joyful worship, fervent prayer, and acts of goodwill. We recognize the Spirit’s movement wherever and whenever true peace with justice and unity is experienced among people and also in relation with the natural world.
This Pentecost, the congregation I serve, Advent Lutheran, will have young people affirming their baptisms through the rite of confirmation, giving testimony to their faith as the faith of the church and affirming their intention to live in the Way of Jesus.
Advent Lutheran Church is also looking forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary, in October of this year.
As a Lutheran church, we are a reforming movement within the one historic church and give thanks for the unity we have with many other churches, as well as appreciation of other faiths. As our congregation gives thanks for the people of all ages and many backgrounds who are and have been a part of this community of faith; we also give thanks for the life we share with everyone in South County. We are grateful to God and the people of this community that we together live and serve in this place of abundance and opportunity for care, creativity and sharing.
Rev. Anita R. Warner serves as Pastor of Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill and is a founding member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County and its current facilitator. For further information about Advent Lutheran Church, contact [email protected].