This is the twenty-third installment in a series on faith . in you.
We are looking at some of the prayers of the Church that explicitly use the nouns faith or faithfulness;or the verbal substitutes for the Greek verb "faithing": trusting (the primary meaning), and believing; and the adjective faithful = trusting or "worthy of trust" and trustworthy.
Today we look at the fourth and final faith = trust Collect in the Season of Easter, and just as the Feast of the Ascension has a choice of two Collects, so does the Feast of The Day of Pentecost:
"Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
"O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
I prefer praying the first Collect because it captures the primary centrifugal mission of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, from the house in which the disciples were gathered into the streets of Jerusalem and from there into "all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth"(Acts 1:8).
And yet there is also a centripetal mission of the Holy Spirit into our hearts, which the second Collect captures. And consequently it's not surprising that it's the second Collect that uses faithful = trusting:
"O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful = trusting people by sending [missioning] to them the light [". . .tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them" Acts 2:3-4] of your Holy Spirit."
The Collect goes on to ask God to "Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort. . . ."
What is meant by right judgment and by holy comfort?
The phrase right judgment occurs only once in the New Testament, when Jesus points out the hypocrisy of his accusers (John 7:23-24):
"If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man's whole body on the sabbath? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."
Later in John's Gospel (16:8-13a), Jesus links the Holy Spirit and judgment: "And when [the Spirit] comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:
"about sin, because they do not believe = faith = trust in me [in John's Gospel "sin" is not trusting Jesus];
"about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer [in John's Gospel, Jesus' ascension to the Father proves that the world was wrong to crucify him];
"about judgment, because the ruler of this world [Satan] has been condemned [in John's Gospel, judgment is about discerning good from evil, for example: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19)]."
Jesus concludes by telling his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. . . ."
The phrase holy comfort doesn't occur at all in the New Testament— although Acts 9:31 comes close:
"Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers."
But the New Testament meaning of comfort is not the meaning that first comes to our 21st century minds, when comfort connotes physical ease, or soothing, or solace. The New Testament meaning is strengthening— com-fort, where the prefix com- intensifies the word fort = strong, strength, as in fortify.
And so, when we pray the second Collect for Pentecost, we are asking God to grant us the same Spirit that will enable us to rejoice in the Holy Spirit's holy strengthening just as those 1st century disciples rejoiced!
BROTHER/SISTER— CAN YOU SPARE A TIME?
The Vestry and Preschool Board have purchased a Booth for the Fourth of July Deerfield Family Days event in Jewett Park.
We need volunteers for just an hour (or two, if you're willing) to greet passers-by and invite them to learn about our parish and our ministries in the community and our Preschool.
Please call the Parish Office or sign up on the hallway table.
Questions? Ask Catherine Martin or Susan Lowman or yours truly.
And a big thank you to Preschool mom and new Preschool Board member Kristin Jackson and Clerk of the Vestry and Parish Office Volunteer Donna Hicks for signing up! Please join them and take on an hour or two!
G. THOMAS ELLIOTT 1916-2014
Long-time and devoted parishioner Tom Elliott, who joined St. Gregory's with his wife Dot and their family in 1965, including our future Deacon Scott Elliott, died after a brief illness on June 20.
We will celebrate his life on Thursday, July 3, at 2:00 pm in the afternoon, and he will be buried in our Churchyard.
Please join Scott and his wife Cindy, and his sisters Jean, Connie, and Nancy, and their families, and remember them and Tom in your prayers.
CAPTAIN MIKE BUTLER'S INFORMATIVE AND IMPRESSIVE PRESENTATION
It was a great joy to welcome Mike and his wife Ghada and daughter Amelie last Sunday.
At the Nine O'Clock Practice they presented our parish with an American flag that was flown "in the face of the enemy over the headquarters of Joint Provincial Reconstruction Team Paktika, Forward Operating Base Sharana Afghanistan" on March 14, 2011.
Then at the Adult Forum, Mike surveyed the context of his mission to bring education to Afghanistan's children, and particularly to its girls whose opportunities for education are limited by poverty, distance from cities with resources, and cultural norms and values.
Here are some highlights from his talk.
Mission: The Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team consisted of military and civilians who assisted in the stabilization and security of Paktika by focusing on causes of instability; to increase populace support of the government and reduce population support of insurgency.
While deployed to Afghanistan, I was based in Orgun District which is the most populated district in east Paktika. It is an important economic hub and island of stability along the violent border with Pakistan.
Data from Afghanistan Ministry of Education:
2% of teachers are women;
1% of adult women can read;
13% of males over 15 can read;
10% of girls are enrolled in primary school (0% of girls attend high school);
40% of boys attend primary school;
and there is only one high school in East Paktika serving a populace of about 200,000.
Education Partner: Afghan Lamia Foundation, founded by Lieutenant General John and Jan Bradley.
Their Mission: Provide education support for Afghan children. www.lamia-afghanfoundation.org.
Breaking News! Mike and Ghada hope to return in the fall with John and Jan Bradley to tell us more about the Afghan Lamia Foundation!
And some of the slides from the Adult Forum:
And here are two videos that Mike showed. The first is his, and the second is John and Jan Bradley's:
UPDATE ON DVDS AND CDS FOR OUR MCGREGOR MADAGASGAR MISSIONARIES!
Thanks to Gretchen Bayer, Bishop Todd and Mother Patsy McGregor will have the first season of Downton Abbey, and thanks to Janet Foltz they will have It's a Wonderful Life.
Patsy says they have a multiplayer so they can play US as well as UK DVDs.
They are also interested in history audio CDs such as The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson and Her Mother's Hope by Francine Winters, and anything about Desmond Tutu, or any Classical Music.
Or any movie DVDs such as The Vikings; Castle and Bones; Turn (AMC); 24.
Please bring them to the Office or give to Meredith or me.
PLEASE NOTE: Newsletters During the Summer are Periodic!
Summer is a slower time for news and events, so we may skip some weeks.
In your prayers this week, please remember the sick, especially Claire Bovard, Jack Condon, Cora Stewart, Lucille Dykeman, Charlie Porter, Nick Nicoletti, Anne Clarke, Chantal Mahler, Donna Sharpe, Nancy Wackerlin, Ray Evans, Pat Rastall, Kathy Seghers, Mark and Tracy Strand, Tak Imamasa, Maryellen Davis, Marmie Kiva, and Judy McCann; and
our companion parish in Madagascar, Santa Grégoire, Tolagnaro, and their leader, Dean Donné, for the Church in South Sudan and Bishop Joseph and Mother Alice; and
for the faithful departed, especially remembering Tom Elliott.