Sunday, May 12, 2013

the days of the Cenacle

May my words be in the name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Because of the Bishop's pastoral letter, this will be more of a short reflection than a sermon. A small group of us gathered to celebrate the Ascension on Thursday. Because of the weather we had to it indoors instead of outside on the mountain top as usual. The wind howled and battered at the building, reminding me of the upper room on the day of Pentecost. And the thought struck me that we are now in the days of the Cenacle. 

What is the Cenacle? The Cenacle is that upper-room in Jerusalem, cena being the Latin for room. It was in the Cenacle that the long discourses from Jesus that we hear in St John's Gospel were spoken. In these Jesus spoke, among other things, of sending his disciples the Holy Spirit after he was gone. It was there also that the Last Supper is set, making it the place from which not only the Dominical command to celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist was issued, but also the place where the Apostles were ordained as the first bishops and priests of his church. 

Tradition holds that it was the place where the disciples hid after Christ was arrested and later crucified; and it is therefore the place where some of the earliest post- resurrection appearances took place, most famously the one where St Thomas was the first to recognise the divinity of Christ with his declaration: My Lord and my God. It was there he gave his Apostles the authority to forgive sins. 

It is the place they returned to after witnessing the taking up into heaven of our crucified and resurrected Lord at the Ascension. And it was there they were hiding for fear of the Jews when, nine days later, the Holy Spirit came upon them like a rushing wind and tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost. This Thursday past we celebrated the Ascension Day; and next Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost; and now we are in that nine day period that our church calendar calls 'days of prayer and preparation' leading up to the time when we will celebrate what we call the birth of the Church, Pentecost. 

Which is why I say that we are in the days of the Cenacle. Because the early disciples were in that upper room during those days; they were preparing themselves for what Christ had promised to send them. Though, of course, like so many times before, they hardly understood what it was that Christ was speaking of. And yet they returned to Jerusalem as he commanded, despite their fears, and waited and, no doubt, prayed. How much more should we, who know full well what was to come on that first day of Pentecost, should spend our own days of the Cenacle in a time of prayer and preparation, readying ourselves for the wondrous event that is to come? Amen.

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