By Anna Seiges
Pentecost Sunday is upon us!
Fondly, we remember it as the “birthday of the Church.” We commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the believers. Most of us are familiar with the re-telling of the event from Acts:
“When Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place…”
Who are “they” who were together in that place? I had always just assumed it was the twelve disciples. “They” had just done the work of ordaining a new disciple to take the place of Judas, and “they” were the ones upon whom “flames of fire rested” when the Spirit entered the Upper Room as a fierce wind.
I was wrong. You have to go back to Acts 1 to find it. There you find that the 11 were present along with “some women” (thanks Luke) “including Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers.”
The “they” who were “all together in one place” included women and men. Notably, Jesus’ own mother was there.
Perhaps I was oblivious to the presence of Mary and the women as the wild new Spirt whooshed into the Upper Room, giving birth to the infant Church that day, but the Early Church knew the women were there.
In fact, early tradition held that Mary was the midwife of this whirlwind of birth. In images depicting the Spirit’s entrance, Mary looms over the twelve and the women. She is the one who guides the newborn church safely into the cacophonous world. She oversees the moment of the Church’s birth.
It makes perfect sense, after all. The woman who labored over and delivered the Christ should be the one to oversee the birth of Christ’s Church. It also makes sense the “some women” would be there. Birth in the first century was not men’s business. You need a room full of women to assist and oversee the labor of the Spirit as she rushes around the room depositing flames and whisking the world into newness.
And so, this Sunday, as we celebrate our fabulous Birthday, let us remember our midwives. The ones present at Pentecost and those who have helped our Church through the centuries.
The Spirit always brings new life; new birth. May she rush into our Church anew this Pentecost. May we celebrate the women who labor with her, who are filled with her fire, and who deliver her sweetness to us as they minister among us.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.