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The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Messages from Bishop Mark

2020 Pentecost Message

Posted by The Rt. Rev. Mark D. W. Edington on

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place.
Pentecost, the great feast of the church’s founding, comes on Sunday. It is always a liminal sort of festival; it comes in near proximity to the end of the school year, and at the threshold of the summer doldrums that beguile us away from our Sunday routine. 
As a gathering of the church spread across seven countries and six languages, Pentecost for us is usually about the story of the disciples suddenly discovering their linguistic gifts. This year the youth of the Convocation have covered that base for us, producing a wonderful video drawing on their many languages — even some not counted in our “official” languages.
This year, Pentecost almost seems a little too edgily ironic. That moment the church began with the visitation of the Spirit, one basic fact starts the whole story: the fact that, ten days after witnessing Jesus’s ascension to heaven, “the disciples were all together in one place.” 
It’s a little poignant, not to say painful, to be reminded of that part of the story this year. The one thing we cannot do is gather together in one place. Even as we move back into the space of the church, some of us—for very good reasons—will continue to participate via a livestream of some kind. We know, and frequently assert, that the church is the people of the community and not the building in which they gather; but families need homes, and that space in which we gather to worship, however grand or humble it may be, is for us the expression of that long-ago room. 
The organizing principle of the church is the faithful gathered for worship; and we feel shortchanged when this is denied to us, even when the reasons precluding our gathering are themselves an expression of Christian love. But we need to remember that the tongues of fire that shone forth the presence of the spirit lit up on people—and not on the building in which they were gathered. 
No image could more clearly set before us the most important claim of Pentecost—that the church is made whenever and however faithful people seek each other out, by whatever means, to join in the praise of God and in service to the world after the pattern of Christ.
So on this day of all days, our task is not to gather in church—it is to be the church. It is to reach out to each other in affirmation and love, to gather in those who risk venturing into our virtual communities, to stop at nothing in working stay knit together as the Body of Christ, no matter where we are.
So, I’ll see you—either on the screen or at the appropriate social distance—in church!
The Right Reverend Mark D. W. Edington
Bishop in Charge
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

Tags: outreach, gathering, pentecost, coronavirus