We shouldn't be surprised that fellowship renewed and restored, was one of the great results of the church being born on that first Pentecost after Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension. As thousands believed and were baptized, the Lord brought them into a new community of genuine fellowship. This fellowship involved meeting as a big group and experiencing God's grace and power together—notice that in the early chapters of the book of Acts the Christians had boisterous and exciting meetings together in the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem! It also involved meetings in homes as they shared more intimate times with other believers around the “breaking of bread.” No wonder the people were amazed at them and viewed them favorably in those early days. What seemed so lost for so long was now being restored by the Spirit!
Luke described this fellowship with these words: “All the believers were together and had all things in common.” This definition remains still as the ideal for Christian fellowship today. Those early days of the Church's life provide us the powerful reminder of what we not only need in our church life today, but also what we must pursue as a Church. More than people meeting in their isolated silences on Sunday, church must be a place of warmth, inclusion, shared lives, and genuine fellowship. I think we generally do this well at St. Aidan—because we know that without this fellowship, we may remain isolated and alone. I say, though, that there is room for improvement—never ending improvements—as we pursue the fellowship in God that we have together.
God made us for this loving fellowship—real, genuine, share-our-lives-with-others fellowship. While this fellowship may involve our participation in a big worship experience, it most definitely must involve our participation in smaller gatherings where people know us, love us, and we share our lives as well as our meals together.
God made us with a need for fellowship (remember: no person is an island!) and He has called us into His forever family to have that need met here at St. Aidan. Don't settle for merely going to church and gathering with a bunch of strangers, but search until you find a place in this Community, a group, a gathering, a commission, or a ministry—and find people where life is shared and fellowship is restored—this is the message of Pentecost!
Just a Note: The Pentecost Sequence
The Sequence for the Feast of Pentecost takes place after the second reading today, before the Gospel Acclamation (the Alleluia). Sequences are medieval hymns originally sung to accompany long Gospel processions. These hymns offer rich, interpretive poetry relevant to the day’s feast. They flourished as a poetical and musical outlet for creativity in the liturgy, and by the fifteenth century, hundreds of fine examples existed in various local churches. The Council of Trent, setting out to simplify and unify the Roman liturgy, reduced the number of sequences to five: Victimae Paschali Laudes (Easter), Veni Sancte Spiritus (Pentecost), Lauda Sion Salvatorem (Corpus Christi), Staba Mater (Our Lady of Sorrows) and Dies Irae (Requiem/funeral Mass). The reforms of the Second Vatican Council eliminated the Dies Irae (although it is now used in the Liturgy of the Hours), and it made the sequences for Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Sorrows optional. (J. Balistieri)
The Sequences for Easter and Pentecost are required by the rubrics (rules) for those liturgies. The great Feast of Pentecost signals the end of the Easter Season and the start of the long stretch of Ordinary (Counted) Time in which we will hear of Jesus’ Mission. We start with celebrating the Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). You will experience several changes in our Sunday celebrations: the Easter Candle is moved back to the Baptismal Fount; a change in the Eucharistic Acclamations; no Post-Gospel Alleluia; no sung response to the Prayers of the Faithful. We have celebrated Easter for fifty days and now we settle down to consider our own role in Jesus’ Mission; to rest and recreate, to discern our own Discipleship and mission—this is the gift of Ordinary Time.
Many thanks to all of our Music Ministry Ensembles and members (The Adult Choir, the Youth Choir, the Contemporary Group, instrumentalists and cantors) for a wonderful and fulfilling 2018-2019 season! We are resting—but some members will occasionally return to lead our song in praise of God (Sometimes Summer Singers)—as we don’t just disappear from our commitment to St. Aidan. If you think you might be interested in joining our Music Ministry—vocalists or instrumentalists—come and see me after any weekend Mass. Music for the glory of God is wonderful, fulfilling and hard work—but so worth it!