May 20th, 2018 Pentecost

May 20th, 2018

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Pentecost 2018

Today is the great feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, a radical new beginning, the explosive indwelling overflow of the power of the Risen Jesus.  Bob Dylan was right, ’The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind’.  The wind, the breath of God, the Holy Spirit disrupting our lives and sending us out into the world with holy boldness, armed with the dynamite of the good news of the gospel. Pentecost is a missionary feast.  It cancels out fear, fills us with an evangelical boldness, and sends us out to light a fire of the earth.

We have before us today two very different, contrasting stories, of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early disciples.  Both are instructive for us.  The Holy Spirit, is coming to us as well.  As intimate and interior as the sweet breath of Jesus, who says to each one of us, ’Peace be with you’.  As violent and disruptive as a gale force windstorm, filling us with the fearlessness of the gospel, bursting forth with dynamite power, crossing all linguistic and ethnic boundaries.

In John’s Gospel we have a ‘little Pentecost’, the disciples are hiding in a house, with the doors locked, because they are afraid that the cops are going to come and arrest them for being followers of Jesus.  They don’t know it yet, but a new day is dawning, the eighth day, the first day of the new creation.  Suddenly the Risen Jesus is standing in their midst.  He shows them his scars, his wounded hands and side, so that they know this living Jesus is the same Jesus who was crucified, died, and was buried.  No doubt, they are frightened, scared of the authorities, but also afraid of the one now standing among them.  Jesus speaks directly to their fears, and to ours, he says, ’Peace be with you’.  Shalom.  He gives them the gift of his peace, shows them his transfigured wounded flesh, and the disciples ’rejoiced’.

Jesus doesn’t leave it at that however, he gives them another piece of the peace, he sends them on a mission.  Again, he says, ’Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you’.  And what a mission this is, nothing less than participation in the coeternal mission of the Son.  And what will give us the power to participate in this mission, to be ourselves this missionary outreach of the Father in the Son?  John tells us, ’He breathed on them and said to them, [and to us]. ’Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained’.

This first gift of the Holy Spirit, given with the intimacy of the breath of Jesus, echo of the breath of life breathed into the nostrils of the first human being at the dawn of creation, is the breath of tender mercy extended to all of humanity.

In contrast, we have the day of Pentecost describe for us in the Book of Acts.  The gift of the Spirit, not so gentle, this time, not so quiet, peaceful and intimate.  More like a stick of dynamite thrown into the middle of their collective paper flesh.

Again, they are gathered ‘together in one place’.  Tradition tells us that Mary was with them.  We don’t know if they were still afraid, or, if the doors were locked.  We do know that they were waiting, that Jesus asked them to wait, in Jerusalem, a dangerous place for them.  Waiting for the second wave of the promise of the Holy Spirit. ’And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind’.  Other translations speak of a ‘fierce’, ‘howling’, ‘turbulent’, ‘roar’, a ‘strong’ and ‘mighty wind’.

Some friends of mine recently survived the winds of hurricane Irma in San Martian.  They told me stories of houses exploding, cars being tossed down the street like paper toys, the uprooting of trees and lives.  The devastation of the aftermath, a social fabric overturned, uprooted, lives never the same.

The wind of the Spirit also overturns, disrupts, uproots, explodes, and completely transforms the habitual patterns of our lives.  Tongues of flaming fire, burning bushes, transfigured flesh, not consumed, but filled with Resurrection power and boldness.

Even the pilgrim crowds in Jerusalem know that something powerful has taken place, so powerful that it cannot be tamed or contained.  The crowds are, ’bewildered’, ’amazed’, and ’astonished’.  What is this transgressive event that has taken place, this Pentecost that kicks down all the normal doors of language and ethnic space? This reversal of the fragmentation, chaos, and alienation of the Tower of Babel, that presumes to gather all the broken tribes of fallen humanity under ’God’s mighty deeds of power’.  To become one body, one spirit in Christ.

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, animates the Church as a living breathing body.  Let us be open to the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, to send us out as missionary disciples, boldly proclaiming the good news of the gospel. ’Come Holy Spirit’.

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.