Gleanings from the Collects: Pentecost

Almighty God, on this day, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, you revealed the way of eternal life to every race and nation: Pour out this gift anew, that by the preaching of the Gospel your salvation may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

or this 

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Two options are appointed for the Feast of the Pentecost. The first collect is new to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, while the second option is from the 1662 and 1928 BCP. It was taken from the Gregorian sacramentary.[1]

Pentecost is the feast commemorating the sending of the Holy Spirit to the disciples as found in Acts 2. It is the fulfillment of Jesus promise “…but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”[2]Pentecost is also viewed as the birth of the Church because 3,000 from around the known world were baptized on that day. By the sending of the Holy Spirit Jesus’ followers went from being a local sect to an international faith. And since the Sacraments require both Word and Spirit, there would be no Church today without the Holy Spirit.

It is fitting that both collects are offered because they touch upon two important distinctives of the Holy Spirit. They tell us that He comes to comfort and to empower. Ignoring either one or both of these distinctives leads to an imbalanced spiritual life.

He comes to comfort. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as Paraclete.[3]This word can be translated “advocate” “helper” “comforter.” He is one who comes along side, like a best friend, to be a support and a comfort. He comforts us in many ways by the many fruits that He brings into our lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”[4]He also comforts and supports us by praying for us and with us. St. Paul writes, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”[5]

He empowers us. Jesus said to the disciples, “and behold I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”[6]What was the purpose of this power? Jesus said, “…that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem.”[7]

One way that the Holy Spirit empowers the Church is by leading her into the truth. Jesus said, “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.”[8]People who walk in the truth, live in the light and are free. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”[9]People who do not walk in the truth, live in darkness and are in bondage. “But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over.”[10]

Another way that the Spirit empowers us is through His assurance of our state before God. St. Paul writes, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”[11]While there are many voices, both natural and spiritual, that would undermine our confidence, the Holy Spirit whispers assurances that we have been accepted in the Beloved. Thus we face life saying “If God be for us who can be against us?”[12]

Because the Son glorifies the Father, and the Spirit glorifies the Son, the Holy Spirit is all too often overlooked. Therefore we need to be especially intentional about seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can walk in the comfort and power of God.

Veni Creator Spiritus   

9thCenutry Hymn

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest, 
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father,
Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.

Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply. 

Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.

[1]The Gregorian sacramentary is a 10thcentury book of prayers used by the celebrant at Mass.

[2]Acts 1:5

[3]John 14:16

[4]Galatians 5:22,23

[5]Romans 8:26 NLT

[6]Luke 24:46 NASB

[7]Luke 24:47 NASB

[8]John 16:13 NASB

[9]2 Corinthians 3:17 ASV

[10]Proverbs 4:19 NLT

[11]Romans 8:16 ESV

[12]Romans 8:31 KJV

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