Here’s what I hate about Pentecost:
It’s only one day long. We name the season after Pentecost “the Season After Pentecost,” but that’s all the play it gets. The vestments and paraments are red for one day, then we have Trinity Sunday’s white, then everything goes green. If red is the color of the Holy Spirit, we can conclude that She gets one day of the year. This is how you treat a member of the Trinity?
I know, I know, apostles and martyrs get red on their feast days, but most of us aren’t celebrating those days, so the Spirit gets shortchanged.
Last week a parishioner remarked on my use of the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. In the Western tradition, indeed, the Holy Spirit has been masculine. We say “He” in the creeds. But in the Eastern tradition, the Spirit is identified with Wisdom, the feminine face of God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, Wisdom is clearly feminine. In Greek, “spirit” is neuter, and so the grammatical default is masculine, but that doesn’t make the Spirit male. The Spirit transcends our attempts to categorize and contain Her. Really, the Spirit prepares us for approaching the Trinity, because the mystery of the Spirit is the mystery of the Trinity. What do we make of a God that is three, and yet one?
The central insight of the doctrine of the Trinity is God’s relational heart. God is not an individual who occasionally enters into relationship. God is relational all the way down. Inside God a multiplicity of qualities and activities find their place. Masculine and feminine are just two of those seeming polarities. Active and passive, sending and sent, lover and beloved, source and result – these and other poles are transformed in God into stations in a never-ending circuit of love.
The Eastern theologians have a great word for the way the Persons of the Trinity interact. They talk about “perichoresis” – literally,dancing around. The Three dance toward and with one another, always in motion, in a divine pattern of grace and truth.
Maybe the way we acknowledge the Spirit – a day here, a day there, blowing across saints past and yet to come – is more faithful than a season. After all, the Spirit can’t be contained into one season or part of the Church.
I wish we wore red longer. I wish this season was “of Pentecost” rather than “after” it. But for now, I’ll wear green. Mostly. In public.
Dance on, Spirit!