2008/05/13

Pausing for Pentecost

Christ may be born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but if he be not born anew within your own heart, you remain eternally forlorn. -- Angelus Silisius

I guess this is kind of how I’ve been feeling about Pentecost this year. Pentecost and Shavou’ot being twin celebrations for me, you understand… Hang on and I’ll show you why I can’t possibly be a Christian without also being a Jew.

Shavou’ot is not until June 10 (6 Sivan on the Hebrew calendar) but it is still linked to Pentecost and by more than just its name. On Shavou’ot we remember the time we were given Torah. It was at Mount Sinai and all us Jews were there, not just Moshe and Aharon. I was there, Fran was there, Diane, Paul, Mike, Kristen, Ann, Mimi, everyone. Women separate from the men for the first time in 400 years. What a grand gathering that must have been -- Me and my sisters singing and dancing while we wait for Moshe to return. (You know, after the golden calf business.) And then Torah was given. How I wish I could remember that day!

There is great anticipation leading up to Shavou’ot/Pentecost/Hag Matan Torateinu. (You can call it a lot of things. Still, it’s the same thing.) It’s so eagerly awaited that we count the days, 50 of them, between Peasach/Passover and Shavou’ot/Pentecost/Weeks. This is called “Counting The Omer” and it’s a mitzvot to do it, highly spiritualized by some Kabbalists.

At Pesach we are physically brought out of slavery. Fifty days later, on Shavou’ot, we are brought out of Spiritual bondage through the gift of the Torah, the written word of God. That’s the connection, thus we count a golden number of days from one to the other in celebration of freedom, new life.

Then along comes Jesus. The word incarnate. And by his coming we have new life, we are freed from the law of the written Torah and given a new commandment -- love. Just as it was hard for the Israelites to learn how to live as free people and they needed Torah to guide them, so do we find ourselves in new territory with this new commandment and we too need a guide. And just at the moment of greatest disorientation, when it feels like we may never be able to live within the new law, the Holy Spirit is given.

I hope I can celebrate Pentecost in Italy someday because I heard that in some churches they throw rose petals off the balcony onto the worshipers and I would like to see that. I’d like to look up and see fiery rose petals coming toward me, feel them land on me.

For fifty days now we’ve been in this incomprehensible place where Jesus dies, then he lives; we see him, then we don’t, then we do. And all the while he is reminding us of his hardest teachings. It IS dizzying. Then, when we are good and confused, Jesus leaves. Oy g’veigh! We need help. And here she comes, just in the nick of time too as hope was dwindling.

There are things that we don’t know, trials we would run from, devils lying in wait for us. And God’s response to that is not a book, or a bush, or even a prophet, all of which would be easier to deal with. God responds with a presence. The onus is no longer on something external -- the priest or an angelic messenger -- from now on we are responsible for hearing and delivering God’s living word. We are free from the tyranny of hierarchical rulers and bound to a tyranny of love and all its demands, free from the rule of the tribe, and the rule of the law, and bound to the rule of love.

So, you can have Torah, the Bible, and all the priest, rules, dogmas, and doctrines you want. If there’s not something of love, something real in the heart, then, as Angelus Silisius says, you [we] remain eternally forlorn.

Let there be love.

11 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Well, Lindy, a new look and a new name. I thought I was in the wrong place at first. I like it. The comment box is easier to use.

I remember when I was in that number when the Torah was given. The Jews are God's chosen people always. God's covenant with them is forever. Now we have the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

As the ever-wise Tobias says the Word is not a book. The Word is a person, Jesus.

lindy said...

Well, actually, the word is the letters... But, like you, I'm not going to cross Tobias.

Glad to hear about the comment box.

I guess it's a done deal now... I am officially blogging over here now.

Grandmère Mimi said...

So. I'll adjust my blog friends list.

I hated that tiny comments box. I can say that now.

Diane said...

hey, I loved this post, and especially I loved the QUOTE. Absolutely. And I like the fish thing, too.

you are so cool.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, what fun! I painted a Pollock, and I played "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on da piano. I hope no one else can see my Pollock. I couldn't even stay inside the frame.

Wow! You are so smart.

FranIAm said...

Aaaah- I feel like I am falling in love all over again.

Lindy, this is Pentecost, the wind blew and the spirit came.

This is great.

(and thanks for the linkage too.)

Diane said...

yes, thanks for the linkage.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lindy, there was so much new to take in that I forgot to say a huge THANK YOU for posting the logo for the Dillenkoffer Endowment, the scholarship in memory of my sister. The board is now in the process of picking the winner of the scholarship from the finalists.

Ann said...

Thanks for the piano and the fish thing - fun. And of course always your thoughts on life the universe and everything. Have you read Standing Again at Sinai?

Paul said...

Love our posts and the cool new spot (and yes, the widgets are awesome). Blessings on this new blog phase! And hugs, and ear skritches for Rowan.

Rowan said...

Thanks dear Paul. You always remember me! You're a real swell human.

Love,

Rowan