Went to church for the first time in a long while, where several 14 year olds were getting “confirmed”– a process I was never subjected to but might have actually enjoyed as a kid. It happens to also be Pentecost Sunday, which is the day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and they famously could speak in tongues. If you had asked me what Pentecost was before the Service I would have made a bad guess and even now I’m only marginally sure how to spell it.
I learned a few things today, such as that the Holy Spirit, linguistically speaking, is without a doubt feminine. There are many (valid) reasons to debate whether God should be referred to in the masculine but there is no question that the words in Hebrew and Greek that are used to describe the Holy Spirit are feminine. Pentecost, the minister told the young confirmands, is emblematic of Christianity– to be so taken with the Holy Spirit that outsiders will gossip Are They Drunk? It’s interesting to me that this holiday has no Hallmark cards or special candies, no traditional feasting to speak of– is known as “the church’s birthday.” So the Christian church was born in mysticism– feminine mysticism at that– a radically inclusive and dramatic flash of joyful connection– and now it’s anniversary year is celebrated so often as a footnote shrouded by often inhibited churchgoers in their Sunday best, who barely know their own neighbors let alone the people in the pew nearby. Where is the intrigue, the adventure in the re-telling of it all? So little surprises people anymore, is it a wonder there isn’t excited debate going on during “coffee and conversation” time each Pentecost Sunday?
I love the story of Pentecost as a Tower of Babel in reverse– suddenly people of all different backgrounds found a common language, a reason to connect, a hurrah in their hearts as the Holy Spirit descended on them all. There is perhaps no better example of the radical inclusivity of God’s love than this particular testimony, and no better directive towards community and diverse assembly in doing His Work. We are called to talk to each other, despite sometimes seeming insurmountable differences.
Thinking in this light, it makes this tragedy all the more outrageous. Forget politics. Any theology that supports this murder is bullshit.