The Church’s Birthday

19 May

“Everyday is a birthday; every moment of it is new to us; we are born again, renewed for fresh work and endeavor.” ~ Isaac Watts

Birthdays are such wonderful celebrations.  They are times when family and friends gather together in order to give thanks for the great gift of life. The celebration usually takes place in the context of a meal.  In my family, our mother had a tradition of giving her birthday boys the option of choosing the meal and what kind of cake we wanted for our special day.  She would make whatever we wanted.  My selection was very predictable: kiszka and pumpkin pie (Yes, I was always a bit of a birthday non-traditionalist.)

Today, we celebrate our common birthday.  Pentecost has been considered as the birth of the Church.  Thus, it is appropriate that we gather as family and friends to celebrate this wondrous day.  Many parishioners dress in red — the color of the day — and to gather around the Table of the Lord from which the best birthday meal could be provided: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Pentecost is all about new life.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit breathed life into a group of people who were paralyzed by fear.  Locked in an upper room, the Holy Spirit came down upon Mary and the Apostles and gave them the courage to go out and proclaim, boldly, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Nothing changed externally.  Their lives were still in danger. Preaching about Jesus still could get them arrested and killed. But they were changed internally.  They were freed from the fear, doubt, and confusion that had shackled them.  They were, in the words of Isaac Watts, “renewed for fresh work and endeavor.”

And so it is with us.  The Holy Spirit frees us from fear and dread as well, if we but let Him.  This is our day of rejoicing. It is a day in which we can celebrate our heritage and look forward to our future.

Some people paint the future of the Christian faith as very bleak.  I do not believe that one bit.  Oh, we may suffer for the sake of our faith.  There is nothing new about that.  But, no one, not any power on earth, can hold back the promise and glory of God.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are ours for the asking.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit will provide us all that we need to face this world. We have no reason to fear.  So on our birthday, take the opportunity to celebrate God’s providential love.

FAITH ACTION:  Reflect upon all that God has done for you and give him thankful praise.