The Great Fifty Days of the Easter season in the Christian calendar have been described as an extended Easter Sunday celebration, starting at the Great Vigil of Easter and culminating on Pentecost Sunday (May 19), when we celebrate the Holy Spirit filling the fearful disciples and empowering them for ministry that would change the course of human history. During this season we do certain things to call to mind what it means to live the new life of the resurrection: we keep the Paschal candle lit brightly, symbolizing the light of the world that the darkness has not overcome; we say and sing lots of “Alleluias,” symbolizing the victory of God over the forces of death and sin; and we fill the church with white, gold, and silver, from flowers to altar hangings and vestments, symbolizing the hope of new life and freedom in Christ.
This Easter season at Holy Cross, we will focus our prayers, Scriptures, sermons, and study on how God uses our gifts and passions to do God’s work in the world through us: how we become the hands, feet, and presence of Christ for others. The adult education hour between the 9 am and 11 am worship services will focus on identifying and naming your God-given gifts, known in Scripture as “spiritual gifts”.
Part of the Easter good news is that God gives each of us individually, and together as a community, gifts for ministry to offer others. Sometimes it’s a burning passion for an issue of justice or equality, and other times it is simply something natural that you have always loved to do. One writer, Frederick Buechner, has described our various callings as the place where our deepest gifts and passions meet the world’s greatest needs.
In the weeks leading up to Pentecost Sunday, May 19, I invite you and encourage the whole Holy Cross community to participate in this Easter season and prepare for Pentecost Sunday in the following way:
Take a strip of cloth that will be provided for you on Sundays. Write or draw or name in any way you want your gifts and passions on the cloth. Then on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, during the service, we will process up to the altar and lay the strips of cloth on the altar, literally making an offering to God made up of the gifts and passions that make us who we are.
The Rev. Bob Becker, the Rev. Jill Lum, and I love to make time to talk with people about how their gifts might engage with the world’s needs, so please be invited to make an appointment with any one of us.
The Lord is risen, calling us to share in his risen life. Alleluia! I look forward to sharing these Great Fifty Days with you.