Several events last week captured my attention. I was moved by the D-Day celebration of the bravery and service of so many. My heart swelled with gratitude for the survivors and their humility. The speeches of unity filled me with pride, and I hoped that we would continue this unified effort for our troubled world.
We should always be grateful for the deeds and spirit of the men and women who served and continue to serve.
Next on my list of important events was Pentecost Day on Sunday, June 9. It is considered to be the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of its missionary role. This holy Christian Day is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday in remembrance of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and followers of Christ. An account of this interesting celebration is recorded in Acts 2.
It was and remains a happy celebration. The last lines of an uplifting hymn come to mind, “There’s a spirit in the air. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.”
The uplifting spirit of Pentecost reminded me of the lesson from Philippians 4:4-8 discussed in a Sunday School class:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy — meditate on these things.”
This message is worth carrying in our hearts and minds to measure against the unworthy words and acts of troubling times.
It is necessary to stand up for goodness, truthfulness and unity. On Pentecost Day, two important religious leaders stood up against unworthy acts and words. Reported on DW.com, Bishop Markus Droge warned about the “lies intent on undermining democracy.” Pope Francis said, as reported on the Crux Now website, “In the age of the computer, distances are increasing: the more we use the social media, the less social we are becoming. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as a Church, as God’s People and as a human family.”
Two important celebrations are on the Church Calendar for Sunday. The first is Trinity Sunday, and the second is Peace and Justice Day.
The doctrine of the Trinity defends monotheism. Trinitarianism is the belief that God is one essence in three persons. Over the centuries, two heresies have been discussed, tritheism and monarchianism. Tritheism teaches that there are three separate and distinct Gods, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Monarchianism claims the “sole deity of God the Father.” I am concerned that definitions can veil God. Perhaps, we should not fool ourselves into believing we fully understand the nature of God. We should keep the faith and await the answers.
The second emphasis for this Sunday is on peace and justice. Early Christians took Jesus’ teaching on non-violence seriously by refusing to serve in the military. Eventually, they adopted Augustine’s Just War Theory. By the fifth century, being a Christian was a prerequisite for military service.
As challenges arise, Christians must first remember that we are required by Christ to be peace seekers.
For Peace and Justice Day, we should look first to the Old Testament. It speaks about justice in several ways. Frequently, justice meant retributive or punitive measures for misdeeds, “eye for an eye.” Another approach was to follow mishpat, the Hebrew word for justice, which generally required fair treatment. God was recorded to be a just God and a God of wrath in Proverbs 21:15: “When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.”
The New Testament gives this advice in Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Justice requires what is best and life-affirming for each person. To be a just society, equity in all aspects of life must be available for all people.
“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father.” — Lydia Maria Child