St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

June/July 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At last we have come to the Feast of Pentecost, the day classically noted as the descent of the Holy Spirit. The word "descent" is a little confusing. Descent from where? Heaven? But Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is not "up there" but "in here." If this is so, then we must ask the question, "descent from where and to where?"

The idea of God descending from heaven far, far away misdirects us from the central truth that heaven is where God is and he is everywhere, in us, and surrounding us all the time. The Holy Spirit does not descend to us as much as he is revealed to be exactly where we did not think to look: within.

The wind and fire and other physical manifestations are common to scriptural theophanies. They denote the presence of the Lord in history, revelations filled with power and wonder as one might expect when God reveals himself. In a sense this is not something new so much as it is a revelation of how things really are and have always been.

On Pentecost, God reveals that his Holy Spirit is come and is one with us. Let me end with this quote from Martin Laird's wonderful book INTO THE SILENT LAND, "For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God." (Jn. 17:21)

Descent, no. Revelation.

With Love,
Fr. Antony