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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 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. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12 All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Today we celebrated a beautiful Mass in the Cathedral of St. George the Martyr. Churches from all over the Diocese of Jerusalem (which includes Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan - I don't know how many came from where) came to celebrate this high feast of the church marking the diversity and unity from which we were born. It was amazing to be in Jerusalem to commemorate this moment when Sinai's fire appeared in Jerusalem so long ago. It was breathtaking to hear the scriptures read in Arabic including the festal text proclaiming the presence of Arabs in Jerusalem who were among the first generation of the new Church.
I was particularly glad to see Bishop Suheil Dawani since the Israelis failed to renew his residency permit. I was moved to tears by the singing and praying in Arabic and English (and who knows what else) together. It was not the phenomenon in the lesson but I could hear more than one language including my own and that was fitting for Pentecost.

There was also a baby blessing, the day couldn't have been any more perfect.

Protocol disclaimer: I did take pictures because the local worshippers were taking them. I had an aisle seat. The folk were getting up, standing in the aisle, literally climbing up into the pulpit - Bp preached from the floor in front of the altar - and no one seemed to mind. So I leaned out a bit, staying seated (or when we were standing) and took pictures along with everyone else. I took the Gospel shots while they were preparing for the reading, not during. And the pre-Eucharist shot during the offeratory.

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