A Strange New Way

This Sunday is Pentecost. Of the parts of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is often acknowledged least in personal and corporate worship. But the Holy Spirit is what has set apart Christian worship since its beginning, and the day of Pentecost brought a strange, new way of worship that seemed an oddity to the pagan cultures surrounding the early Christians. 

Most religions utilize summoning language, called epiclesis, where humans call on a deity to “come.” In early pagan cultures, people made attempts to summon and beguile the spirits through music, which was believed to have magical influence over the gods. Early Christians also used summoning language, including “come, Holy Spirit.” They used this type of petitionary language even though, unlike the pagan cultures, they knew that the Holy Spirit was already there, present within them. They were, in fact, asking for something that was already granted. For them, summoning was not an act of manipulation, like in the pagan world, but it was an act of welcome. It was a way of affirming that the Holy Spirit is wanted in the life of a Christian, and invited to work in whatever way the Spirit chooses.   

This Sunday, we invite the Holy Spirit to enter in. We do this not because He is absent, but as a way of acknowledgement, welcome, and openness to the Holy Spirit already within us. What a strange and marvelous way!

Jill Schroeder-Dorn, D.A., Director of Worship Arts

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