We have come to the Great Feast of Pentecost, and at the Vigil tonight we reverently resumed singing “O Heavenly King,” having withheld that prayer since Pascha, while we were “waiting” liturgically for the Holy Spirit to be poured out. All the vestments are green now, and the church is decorated with extra redwood branches, trees and flowers to remind us of our life in Christ, and to express our joy at the feast.
While we sang the long Psalm with its refrain, “His mercy endureth forever,” four chandeliers with a dozen candles each were set to swinging back and forth just above us, and when we looked beyond them, we could see the icon of the Savior, looking down with love and compassion.
One of the scripture readings tonight was from the Prophet Ezekiel, chapeter 36, and it explains some of the reasons why we are full of thanks and gladness:
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
The Holy Spirit is descended!