Pentecost: Birth of the Church?

Posted by Christine Nusse on May 31, 2009 | Categories: Seasons of the Spirit

Today is the feast of Pentecost and I just came back from mass at the villages’ RC parish. The homily was classic, celebrating the birth of the Church.
That got me both annoyed and wondering. Of the risen Christ’s breathing his spirit into his disciples, the Church kept only the second part: “The sins you forgive will be forgiven in heaven and those you do not, will not.” Chances are this part of the story was added way after the fact. It does not appear in the same way in all the gospels. Sometimes it is told to Peter alone, and sometimes to all the disciples. In any case, the important fact is the passing along, or “infusion” of Christ’s spirit to his followers, and by extension to us all. It is the continuation of this co mingling of the divine and the human which first happened at the conception of Jesus and continued in the Eucharist. Or to sum it up in one word, it is part of the mystery of the Incarnation and of Creation all together.
But to go back to my problem with the homily -and the RC Church’s traditional teaching- how can the Incarnation be limited to the said RC Church? From day one, the apostles who considered themselves Christ’s heirs, wanted to limit who would be “in”. And from day one the Spirit spoke directly to people outside the apostles’ rules and regulations, starting with Paul on his road to Damas. “No, the Spirit says over and over again, you do not have to be “in” to receive me.”
There is however a prerequisite to receiving the Spirit: Searching.
As we Catholic lesbians have over and over again experienced rejection from the Church, we assume too often that searching is no longer demanded of us.
Just the opposite, the Spirit is for us, as well, and even more, but we must search and ask. Then She will be poured into us and we will speak in tongues (figuratively speaking at least) and move mountains and live.
The domain of the Spirit and those of the institutional churches do not overlap. There is no exclusive to God’s gift.
Today is not as much the anniversary of the birth of the church as it is the acknowledgement and celebration of God’s presence in the most intimate part of our self, a presence so quiet yet so loving that we seldom think at all about it. “If we only knew God’s gift!”

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