Holy Pentecost

Tomorrow is Holy Pentecost for the Orthodox Church. Not surprisingly, Orthodoxy understands Pentecost much differently than Pentecostals and Charismatics. In my past life as a Charismatic Christian, I associated Pentecost and the subsequent Spirit-filled life with zeal and exuberance that often bordered on emotionalism. Not so with Orthodoxy. If I understand it correctly, the Spirit-filled life is one of powerful and profound silence.

Tonight at Liturgy, Fr Patrick explained the Spirit-filled life with the analogy of the Sacramento River. At its headwaters, the Sacramento River is small, shallow and noisy as it bubbles from the ground. As it moves, it gathers water and grows wider and deeper. And as it does so, it grows quieter. When it’s finally at its most powerful and deepest point in its journey, it is silent. So it is with the Spirit-filled life. Pentecost was an explosion of energy and exuberance as the promised Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ followers. But as the Church matured, that initial experienced transformed into an ever-deepening and ever-quieting life as God’s power rooted out sins and passions that divide us and forged divine unity.

Here’s part of a hymn that we sung tonight at Vespers and will sing again tomorrow morning:

“When He came down and confused the tongues,

The Most High divided the nations;

but when He distributed the tongues of fire,

He called all people to unity.

Therefore, with one voice we glorify the most-Holy Spirit.”

Kontakion of Pentecost

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9 thoughts on “Holy Pentecost

  1. Jason,
    you really have gone to another extreme in your personal quest for complete peace and purpose, surprised but not shocked – Bill Hager

  2. Hi Billy. Good to hear from you again. I hope things are well with you and your family. Actually, I view our journey into Orthodoxy as the next step where God has been taking us rather than another extreme. Mark and I always intended our small house church to be a community that followed Christ by grace into his fullness. In doing so, we realized the need for liturgy and sacraments, among other things, which we experimented with when you were visiting with us. What we discovered is that the Orthodox Church has been practicing and preserving this kind of Christianity from Day One. Considering our intentions and values, it was only natural for our journey from the consumer church and into the emerging church to lead us ultimately to the Orthodox Church.

  3. Hi Jason, so you are telling us that the Orthodox church is or provides the “fullness of God?” you say “this kind of christianity,” and what is that? is it the need for liturgy and sacraments? well, this may be the next step for you and yours but I don’t believe the ultimate step. I said “extreme” because many of their practices are, well, far from the practices of the primitive church. there are some pretty obvious traditions that I think get in the way. some traditions are good and harmless but must be subject to change. what I’ve found through the years is that many religious organizations, denominations, movements, have a fragment(s) of truth and the rest is yes, man made systems. I think you know this. I say “surprised” because knowing a little of your background I’d think you would’nt get into those kind of practices. “Day One”? would you elaborate on this? give it to me in a nutshell if you can. surely the Lord has taken you and yours out of religious consumerism. and I thank God for that. and I’m glad I met you all and shared with you all in the very brief time I was visiting for those studies. I like that book “The Secret Message Of Jesus.” I still read it. great and refreshing perspectives.
    blessings – Billy

  4. Hi Billy. I’m glad you’re still enjoying “The Secret Message of Jesus.” It does offer a fresh perspective to the typical western options that litter our Christian landscape. I hope it continues to inspire your thinking.

    As far as the final destination into Orthodoxy that some of our group’s members have found, it doesn’t really surprise me. Mark and I were teaching portions of Orthodox theology before we even left the Vineyard — especially Orthodox theology regarding the incarnation, atonement and theosis. In fact, it was one of the reasons why we left. Also, Mark has been attending an Orthodox Church ever since we began our house group. My point in saying this is that we have been influenced by and teaching bits Orthodox theology for several years as we have tried to follow Jesus into his likeness. So finally becoming Orthodox just seemed the natural destination of our journey.

    Without trying to enter into a debate, I really believe the Orthodox Church is the fullness of the Christian faith and the Gospel that Jesus incarnated and then handed down to his disciples and they to their disciples for centuries to come. Yes, there have been developments in theology and tradition, but nothing there contradicts anything the early church believed and practiced. For about a thousand years (a period that includes the Ecumenical Councils that gave us the developed theology of Jesus’ incarnation and the Trinity) the Orthodox Church was THE Church. Then around 1054, the Roman Church separated from the rest of the Church. Then in 1517, the Reformation began in order to correct the errors that had formed because of that separation. But the Orthodox Church, which goes back to the original early church, remains virtually unchanged, preserving the fullness of the Gospel, faith and practice.

    If you’re interested in examining the idea of the “fullness” that is in Orthodoxy, I would recommend a short podcast by Fr Stephen Freeman. You can find that podcast here:

    [audio src="http://audio.ancientfaith.com/freeman/gtg_2008-07-12pc.mp3" /]

    In fact, Fr Stephen’s blog (http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/) and podcast (http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/freeman) are definitely worth reading and listening to if you’re interested in looking at Orthodoxy.

    I wish you the best as you continue to follow Jesus.

  5. Jason, there is nothing wrong with a healthy debate, no? Dan Kimball spells this out in a chapter in the book, “An Emergent Manifesto Of Hope” by Pagitt/Jones. I don’t think you would want to engage in angry debate and neither would I. But there is the mature way to discuss things AND to make changes where needed. We all have something to “detox” from. So saying this I really believe you and yours are missing it. I say this with respect. You’ve trudged a long way and doing your best to hear the Holy Spirit within you. I believe your heart IS after God. But I think much learning has driven you, instead of being lead by the great Shepard & Bishop our souls. There are some holes in your presentation of church history. And I assume that you have given me your take in a nutshell only. I can understand that. Like I’ve told you before I too know what it is like to be part of that religious, ego driven, money making, militant christian machine/beast. I won’t ever go back. This religious octopus has many arms and tentacles. So I’ve found through the years these arms and tentacles within the different christian streams. Sometimes to find out what something IS we find out what it IS NOT. Enter seasons of brutal honesty, repentance, detox, loneliness (that wilderness deal), sacrifice and embracing the newness.
    What say you?
    blessings – Billy

  6. Hi Billy. I appreciate your desire to have a healthy debate. I would prefer to have a healthy discussion where we actually try to listen and learn from one another rather than trying to prove how the other person is “missing it.” I could be misunderstanding your intent, but the the tone of your last couple of comments seem to lean toward proving how I’m wrong rather than trying to converse and learn from each other.

    That being said, I would be willing to discuss these matters in person or over extended email as long as the overall tone was congenial. I don’t mind disagreeing with each other, as long as the priority was to listen to and learn from each other. Also, because of time constraints, there may be gaps in my responses if we choose email. I think either of those venues would be better than a conversation in the comments section of my blog. You can contact me through the email in my blog’s sidebar. Blessings.

  7. I realize that it is hard for people to understand why we are investigating and getting more and more involved in the Orthodox Church. I would be just as concerned and convinced that they were wrong if I was on the outside of the situation. The things we have been taught growing up in various other churches have taught us to be suspicious and to reject anything that is foreign to our ways of doing and thinking. It has not been an easy transition and it is not something that we are diving into recklessly. We go with Christ as our Shepherd and the Holy Spirt as our Guide into every decision that we have ever made involving our church commitments. I would not be able to make this decision from the outside though. Sometimes you have to experience for yourself… to taste and see…
    That is where I am at right now. And I am tasting the goodness of the Church, the goodness of community, the goodness of having a Spiritual Father and of knowing what our kids are learning in church because they are right there beside us. I encourage anyone to come with open eyes and open heart and open ears to taste and see and work out what is true and good and pleasing to God.
    In the love of Christ and with all humbleness and sincerity,
    Debbie Zahariades

  8. Well said. Jason, I hear you on the time constraints. I’ll communicate with you on said sidebar. but allow me to say this when it comes to these “healthy debates” or “healthy discussions.” when we learn something, sometimes we have to unlearn in order to embrace or recieve the truth of a matter. so it may take a long time. I think that depends in how much we apply ourselves. its like breaking up hard ground for plowing or construction say. yes, I do think you are missing a few things but my intention is not to smear, demoralize, or spiritually incriminate you and yours. really, I’m one of those few birds who enjoy history. I love it. and for me its all about reconciliation with the Father. this does’nt stop when one is “saved.” its an ongoing process. He is going somewhere with this. He began it, He’ll finish it! its just getting closer to His heart, what drives Him. thus, we are transfigured. becoming His message instead of just having a message. I’am interested in investigating the One they call Jesus. I’ll start there with Him the foundation upon whom the apostles and prophets have built.
    I agree with you Debbie about that mindset that teaches to be suspicious about everything that it has’nt thought of yet. ha! this is control. hey, if you follow Jesus and hear His word then what are we intimidated about? right? I look around christiandom and I see folks who are satisfied and have “arrived.” lost that child-like faith toward Father. that element of surprise is no longer. saddens me. more concerned about their reputation forgetting that the Son of God made for Himself no reputation. well, its late and my brain is closing shop. I’ll be posting my thoughts/views/etc., in coming days.

    endeavoring for the unity and faith – Billy

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