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. – Acts 2:1-4
I write this as I am preparing to leave for the National Workshop on Christian Unity, meeting this year in Charlotte, NC. Part of what I love about going to this gathering each year is that it reminds me of the breadth of the Church. We are part of something much bigger than ourselves — the body of Christ. This year a new part of that body will join us, the Ancient Future Faith Evangelical Partners will join the workshop. I am looking forward to learning about them, especially after our Lenten emphasis on making the ancient practices of the Church new for us.
On April 12, we had Bishop Sean Rowe here with us for our services, and heard him share his vision of the Church. That afternoon, six of our youth joined with other teenagers and adults, from six Episcopal congregations, to be Confirmed or Received by Bishop Sean at our cathedral. It was a glorious service that reinforced that we are not isolated parishes, but a part of the larger Church in our diocese.
Over the last few months, two people from each of five Episcopal churches in the western part of the Lehigh Valley have been meeting monthly, with our discussions facilitated by our Missioner, Twila Smith. Theresa Meyers and I represented Mediator. Our group met to get to know one another, to share our dreams and struggles, and to deepen a sense that we are not in competition with each other but called support one another as the Episcopal Church together. We read a book together, Holy Currencies, that helps us see and use the gifts our congregations have to sustain healthy ministry and mission.
We sometimes describe Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. This year I am particularly reminded that the Church which was born on Pentecost was not just a parish. It was a Church that moved into different places, speaking to people in different languages and different ways, so that a wide variety of people could discover a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I am grateful that the Holy Spirit empowered those first disciples of Jesus to speak in languages that could be received by many different people. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit is at work in our congregation, helping us to learn how to speak to one another and our neighbors. And I am grateful that we are part of a larger diocese and Church, so that we share in this ministry together. When we take the time to worship together, to meet and talk together, to serve together, then we know more deeply the continuing work of the Holy Spirit among us.
The Rev. Canon Maria W.E. Tjeltveit
On April 15, Maria opened the State House of Representatives with the prayer: “God of abundance, we give you thanks for the people of this commonwealth — young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, African American, Caucasian, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American, conservative and liberal — who this day entrust to our government a portion of our income through our taxes. Guide the House of Representatives that they may be good stewards of the finances and power entrusted to them. Give them wisdom and discernment in decision-making; a heart to care for those most vulnerable in our society; a spirit of openness to work together for the common good; and the courage to build a society of justice and shalom…salaam… wholeness and peace. All this we ask in your holy Name, which we know in different languages and through different faiths, as you have revealed yourself to us in love. Amen.”