Reflections on Whitsun ~ a festival for our time?

On Whitsun day and Whitmonday and in Whitsuntide, we can ponder on what it means. That the Holy Spirit descended on humankind as a gift from God have become phrases in the church that few have an inkling what is being talked about. Perhaps in our material time we simply cannot comprehend spirit initiated changes in the course of human evolution which have fundamentally changed the course and character of history. We are reminded of the words: ‘And the light shineth into the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.’ (John 1) We are at a critical point, where we have to help the material world comprehend the light again, now as free thinking individuals. The individual tongues of spirit.

Below is an inspiring excerpt on Whitsun from ‘Festivals of the Year‘, by Roger Druitt (Sophia Books), a Christian Community Priest.

“…Whitsun is not the festival of, say, a philosopher or inventor pondering until enlightened, but the enlightenment and enthusiasm that comes when members of a community (at least ‘two or three’, Matt. 18:20) struggle to work together for a common aim – one that goes beyond personal or national interests to the level of humanity as such. This is the festival in which that power can be released that can heal international strife, not by means of outer force but through the union of different peoples by a vision great than all, giving them mutual understanding, cooperative toleration and a common goal for which to strive together.

“The spirit of Whitsun bestows understanding, warmth of will an an eye for opportunity. It is the festival of a freedom in which these things carry the stamp of personality. In earlier times the right outer form sufficed for inspiration and success, for example a tribal council of elders, a ritual, a festival of peace, war, fertility or hunting. It could work like magic. This is now not adequate. The right forms are now those which mediate between individual responsibilities and free initiatives so these may be shared and responded to by everyone in the group, perhaps involving the sacrifice of one’s own aims through insight into those of others and offering assistance to help others to contribute to the whole. In this way the members of the group gradually find their own places and roles for the whole. The new forms arise now through the interaction of personalities with each other and with the common goal. They promote greater freedom and greater character building and responsibility than in former times…

“The disciples found the Spirit as a new ground on which to stand. Where the Spirit works today, the new forms mentioned above also provide a ground for support and orientation… The school, farm, team, research project, whatever it is, will be threatened with disintegration, but the Whitsun qualities within it will see it through death into resurrection…”

It can perhaps be sensed that Whitsun is more than ever a festival of our time and into the future! A time of coming together as individuals, in free initiatives, in peace.

It is a festival of community.