Pentecost (the “Fiftieth Day”) following Passover is, for Christians, the realization and “birthing” through the Spirit’s descent upon the Community of the Apostles. In this event all that God accomplished through Christ’s death and resurrection in establishing the Kingdom “on earth as in heaven” would continue in the actual body of the Lord Jesus-the Church. Originally a Jewish Feast celebrating the first harvest of the year, it later celebrated the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai, solidifying the Covenant bond between Israel and the LORD YHWH. The LORD chose the people of Israel to be the means through which the whole world would be rescued from evil and usher in the age of the Spirit through a figure spoken of as the Suffering Servant and Messiah (Anointed One). But as the Hebrew Scriptures point out, the people through whom God had desired to bring about the solution had also become part of the problem, falling into idolatry and turning away from Him. When one looks at the overall narrative of the Old Testament (as did the ancient Israelites and the Apostolic Communities) it is clear that the turning away from God and later repentance resulted in a pattern of slavery and rescue, exile and return. Usually this took place because of the “remnant” of those who were “authentic Israelites” in terms of their love, faith and loyalty to the LORD. Out of generations of the faithful remnant God would send His Word and Son in the Person of Jesus to accomplish His plan in what seemed to be a fresh new way. Now, in the middle (rather than at the end) of history, the Kingdom of God would be inaugurated through Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension (where our humanity is raised into full union with God) and becomes the pivot and axis of the narrative of creation and fall, rescue and recreation. The process of rescue, redemption and restoration would now forever be ongoing in the Church by the Holy Spirit who brought/incarnated the Son of God fully joined to our humanity in the Virgin’s womb. Now the same would happen as the Spirit extended the Reality of the risen and glorified Jesus and His work through the humanity of the gathered Apostolic Community at Pentecost through and with whom He will bring what He began to completion (I.e. Parousia).
St Matthew’s has personally experienced the reality of that narrative in a fresh and direct way. We have settled in our leased interim location where we will remain, God willing, until we are able to complete building our new facility. (My wife pointed out that each of the three moves since we sold the old church has brought us much closer to our desired location-now we are only a quarter of a mile down the road from where we plan to build). Moving in during Holy Week was hectic to say the least. Many obstacles seemed in our way, but the Lord seemed to make the proper doors open without much effort in terms of permits, inspections and leases. Much hard work was done making an area painted and fixed to have our Sanctuary set up. I want to thank Maria Griffith (our Parish Council President) and Eric Webber (also a Council member) who themselves worked hard and coordinated the whole process. Thanks also to those who helped with the cleaning, painting and set up, the move from the fire hall and brought items from storage and to all who were tangibly of supportive from outside the Parish. We are also thankful to Maiden Creek Community Church as well as St James Church in Reading who have so often made weekdays and nights available to St Matthew’s for services and meetings (Protestant churches so eager to be helpful to this Orthodox Parish).
It seemed very appropriate that the very first Service celebrated in our new location was the 4th Bridegroom and Anointing (Unction) on Wednesday evening. It symbolized that St Matthew’s is first and foremost a Community where one may experience the passionate and healing love of Christ Himself. The Sunday of St Thomas following the Resurrection saw ongoing Paschal joy with the baptism of our newest member, Ryan Thomas Mull, into the Body of the risen Lord.
In spite of all the obstacles and frustrations with the former location being inadequate, the process of trying to find another location (months of looking and negotiating for the few properties in the area), negotiating leases, the ups and downs of working through zoning issues, applying for permits, etc, all with the added burden of having now a full blown lease, has not brought down our Parish. All who worked (and still work-there are things yet to be done) never acted like they were doing the Church a big favor. I believe we are all part of this because of commitment to the shared vision of what God has done (and is doing) through Christ by His Spirit for us. This is why we tithe and give of ourselves, since all we have and who we really are is from the Lord who shares all of Himself. This is exemplified in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Son, which released the Spirit that inaugurated the Kingdom manifest at Pentecost. God now incorporates us into the Salvation narrative in the same way He has called to His people to be part of His rescue plan throughout time. As a Parish, we are an outpost and embassy, partnering, by the same Spirit with the Apostles (especially our patron, St Matthew) to complete the “invasion” that will renew the whole of creation.
Please continue to pray for us. Your encouragement means much. The activity of the Church of Pentecost is seen by the proximity to the Feast of the Apostles. We are to “Go proclaim the Good News to all nations, baptizing them…teaching them to observe all (Christ has) commanded (Matthew 28, 19, 20).
Now, back to the work of the Lord… And on to the next chapter of the Narrative…
In the Resurrected and Victorious Christ Jesus,