Pentecost Sunday is this Sunday. Pentecost is the birthday of The Church, and also is the day upon which the Disciples received the gift of The Holy Spirit. After receiving that gift, the Disciples were able to speak other languages, and preached to people in Jerusalem in their native tongues, with the result that a great throng were baptised and became Christians.

One of the most interesting things about this day is that the Disciples received The Holy Spirit when they were gathered together. They received it as a community of faith, not individually at separate locations and times. The birth of The Church was an event of the community of faith receiving God's blessing of The Holy Spirit as a group.

One of the most prevalent things we hear today is people stating: "...well, I'm not religious, but I'm a spiritual person." What that usually means is that they do not express faith in the gathered community we know as The Church. It usually means that they dabble in various practices from time-to-time, but they make no real commitment to become a part of any community of faith.

Without community, faith becomes a personal experience, and little else. Without community, faith has little opportunity to be expressed as Jesus taught it should be expressed: as a part of a community. Sadly, for many of those who make this statement, it is simply an excuse for opting out of the community of faith in favor of whatever strikes the person at the moment.

At the center of The Christian faith is the word, "Community." Again-and-again through history we find the faith expressed as a community. Community is where it began, and in community is where it is best experienced and practiced. The Christian Faith has never been a solo performance, it is a communal art, practiced in community and expressed to the world by that community of believers.

So, Pentecost: the beginning of The Church. It is my hope that you will celebrate this season in the community of faith, and that you will seek to deepen your experience of faith in the way in which you practice your faith in the gatherings of believers we call The Community of Faith.

Curtis Rivers


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