On the Day of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus Christ stationed at Grace-St. Luke’s joined the church catholic (universal) in singing the famous, exceptional, and inspirational hymn, “Come down, O Love divine.” (There are many glorious offerings of this great hymn online.) Members of the body of Christ, the Church, sang its brilliant text by Bianco de Siena (1367-1434) to the tune, Down Ampney composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). When it comes to Pentecost and any chance to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, I turn to this hymn. Why?
“Come down, O Love divine” rejoices in the imparting of the Spirit of God to all who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity and with water. Five new Christians were baptized at GSL during the Sunday 10:30 a.m. liturgy after our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children and catechists lit seven red candles before the altar to signify the seven gifts of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-3a): Wisdom, Understanding, Fear of God, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, and Piety. The morning and evening liturgies revived souls to the fact that the Spirit, the wisdom of God, lives forever within each of us, and therefore calls us to live boldly with the fire of the Spirit.
The annual Day of Pentecost in the life of the Church unapologetically communicates that the Spirit is not to be taken for granted. It is to be the daily energy, passion, and radicalness that our Lord trusts will lead our lives as followers of Jesus. Rooted in the love of God, the Spirit is the source from which we are to lead and serve, faithfully offering our abundant time, talent, and treasure to build up the kingdom of God through and beyond life at Grace-St. Luke’s.
Now that we have entered Ordinary Time (the Monday after Pentecost through the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent) on the Church Year Calendar, daily opportunities are ahead for us to embrace and to live with the fire of the Spirit as vessels of God. In so doing, our lives and the world will be changed to the glory of God who loves us unconditionally and calls us to show the same with our neighbors. On our long summer and fall journey to the season of Advent, may this hymn become a prayer of gratitude for earthly and eternal life in the Spirit.
Come down, O Love divine, seek thou this soul of mine, and visit it with thine own ardor glowing; O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear, and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing. | O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn to dust and ashes in its heat consuming; and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight, and clothe me round, the while my path illuming. | And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long, shall far outpass the power of human telling; for none can guess its grace, till Love create a place wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling. Amen.
Godspeed and blessings as we try,
– The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector