We have received word that our church is hoping to reopen on the weekend of the celebration of Pentecost. When I first heard this news, I was thrilled, but I didn’t give much thought to any deeper meaning or significance to the timing. However, as a few days have gone by since receiving the text from our pastor, and upon finding out that many other churches are also opening that weekend, I’ve come to a realization that I find both uplifting and amazing.
Just think about it for a moment…
Live Masses across the country are going to begin happening on Pentecost Sunday.
Uplifting, yes. Amazing, absolutely. A beautiful example of how God works in our lives, beyond doubt.
How?To understand the beautiful and simple irony of returning to Mass on Pentecost, let’s take a look at what was happening before the first Pentecost.
Jesus had returned to the Father, and the Apostles along with a number of disciples and Mary, the mother of Jesus, gathered together in the upper room. We are told that there were about one-hundred-and-twenty people gathered there. And I thought it was hard at times to share my entire house with four other people!
Anyway, there was much confusion about what to do, how to act or react, when to leave the upper room, where to go, and what their mission was. They were frightened to go out in public. Their leader had been killed. They had been threatened. All they knew was that Jesus had promised, at some point, to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to lead them in truth and knowledge and give them direction. So they waited, afraid, unsure, perhaps feeling despair, hopelessness, and restlessness. They may have been anxious to get outside, to move on with their lives, perhaps to even return to the lives they knew before Jesus.
And then, the day came…
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” Acts 2:1-4).
What happened next? The Apostles, led by Peter, went out into the world to proclaim the word of God. They felt free, unafraid, unencumbered, emboldened by their belief and trust in God.
I can’t help but wonder if they were apprehensive. Jesus had told them many times that they would be persecuted, scorned, and killed. They knew what they were doing by going out into the world. They knew that they were subjecting themselves to danger even death. Perhaps they encouraged their mothers, fathers, and young children to stay inside. Maybe they told Mary to stay in the room so that she would be safe.
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). They continued to rely upon each other and take care of each other, they celebrated Mass, and they prayed.
They celebrated Mass, and they prayed.
“Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).
They created new lives for themselves: lives in which they were emboldened to teach the world about Jesus, to spread the Gospel “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), and to take and give the joy of God, the joy of salvation to all.
Is it a mere coincidence that many churches throughout this land are reopening on Pentecost Sunday? As one who does not believe in coincidence, I fervently say, no.
Has this trial we’ve all been through changed you? Do you see life differently now? Do you appreciate those around you and the life you had before the lockdown? Does that life still matter? Did it bring you joy and peace? Was it fulfilling? Have you had time to reflect on your life and its direction? Have you become more patient, more tolerant, and more forgiving? Are you “attending” daily Mass for the first time? Are you hungering for the Eucharist? Are you more open to what God is trying to tell you, open to the Holy Spirit who “will guide you to all truth” (John 16:13)?
To the many who will attend Mass on Pentecost, may you be filled with the Holy Spirit. May you feel empowered to make bold changes in your lives and the world around you. May you leave this time of sheltering, of fear, of waiting and turn it into something good, something profound, something fulfilling. May you see God’s plan for you and have the courage to live according to His will.
Take courage in the words of Jesus, “you will grieve, but your grief will become joy” (John 16:20), and let “no one…take your joy away from you” (John 16:22). Take a moment and think about this time and what it may have done for you spiritually. As I’ve said before, perhaps this time apart from the world was a gift to us as the time before Pentecost was a gift to the disciples. Yes, it was scary at times, and it may still be scary for months to come, but maybe it was necessary. Maybe we needed this time to hear and know and understand the words of Jesus and see that this time was necessary “so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).