Celebrated on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost
Consecrated May 10, 2015, 111 years after its founding.
[To] those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24
How is Christ the Power and Wisdom of God?
God's power allowed Him to become human in a way that flummoxed nature. He became man to rescue us from the grips of death, both in Hades and in sin, and to restore the human relationship with God that Adam and Eve had lost us. Thus He allowed us to be able to live with Him forever. Christ is the Power and Wisdom of God because of this brilliant mission.
Couldn't God have reversed Adam and Eve's fall from grace without having to endure the horrible crucifixion?
How? God wiped out all of sinful humanity from the face of the Earth except Noah and his family. Within minutes, Noah's son sinned with no opportunity for repair; the situation rapidly deteriorated again.
Then, God gave humanity the Law, the judges, and the sacrifice system to guide His people away from sin and back into relationship with Him. Yet death still prevailed.
So, there was no other way. He had to come to Earth Himself, and die in order to enter Hades, and release the dead. Then God could come in the form of the Holy Spirit to be an internal guiding light to His people.
Through the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Spirit, the grip of sin and death does not have the lasting effect that it once had. Αγία Σοφία, Christ, the Holy Wisdom of God!
Two Passovers and Two Pentecosts
Passover was the night when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Jews whose doorways were painted with the sacrificial lambs’ sin-infused blood. The next morning, when Pharaoh found his own first-born son dead, he released his hold on God's people and freed them from slavery's harsh bondage. The blood of the lamb repelled the Angel of Death and the death of Pharaoh's first-born son freed the slaves. Sound familiar?
Fifty days into the Exodus, God handed the Law and the Ten Commandments to Moses. This transfer is celebrated as the feast of Pentecost. It was God's first attempt to reunite with all of His people by telling them what He liked, and therefore how to be like Him.
On Pascha, the second Passover, the blood of the Lamb of God drove Christ into Hades to free the captives of death. This time, the blood of the 'Lamb' not only repelled death, it annihilated death. The death of Pharaoh's first-born son, which released Jews from slavery, was bested by the death of God's only begotten Son, which released both Jews and Gentiles from the bondage of sin and eternal death.
Fifty days after Pascha, God completed the first Pentecost. The first Pentecost gave the Jews the Law. The second Pentecost gave first to the Jews, and then to the converted Gentiles, the Holy Spirit. As our internal companion, the Holy Spirit helps us understand the spirit of the Law, the likeness of God, written on our hearts.
But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:33
So what is Mid-Pentecost?
Pascha and Pentecost, meet on the 25th day between them. Like the child of two loving parents, Pascha and Pentecost, Mid-Pentecost commemorates the totality of the Holy Wisdom of God, Αγία Σοθια.
Mid-Pentecost joins the two most essential events that join us to God, to herald their common purpose, that is, to restore fallen mortal man to the immortal image and likeness of God, our Creator.
To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12, 13
Spirit- filled believers gradually become a new creation of man; we are becoming children of God.
What does Mid-Pentecost have to do with the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple?
And when He was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival (Passover). When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Assuming He was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for Him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Child, why have You treated us like this? Look, Your father and I have been searching for You in great anxiety. He said to them, “Why were you searching for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?”But they did not understand what He said to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. Luke 2:42-51
If there is only one thing we know about God, it is His affinity for shrinking, for the small things, for condescending, for humility. He can't get any bigger, so He does the opposite (1Kings 19:12). His power is represented in the small ways in which He reveals Himself. Christ's wisdom as an adult during the festival of Passover, when He preached in the temple, indicates to us how wise He was. But the twelve-year-old Jesus, shows us His Godly wisdom even more: He was so young and rarely travelled to the temple because He lived so far away in Nazareth. "And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding."
Holy Child Jesus had not yet performed any miracles. He had not yet been baptized or healed anyone, or walked on water, or raised from the dead Lazarus, or the son of one and the daughter of others. He had not yet been crucified or resurrected. But He was still God and, at twelve years old, all He had to show for it was His wisdom.
How does that relate to us?
Parishioners of Saint Sophia Cathedral, whether five or ninety-five years old, should reflect on the Holy Child Jesus. As we enter the temple of our church, let's be reminded of the Αγία Σοφία, Holy Wisdom of God, which vivified us with Resurrection and Pentecost. More than that, let's recognize ourselves to be reflections of the twelve- year-old Christ, in the temple of our Father, thirsting for knowledge. Let's ponder in our hearts how to embody the Wisdom of God at Mid-Pentecost in its nascent form, through the boy Jesus.
As with the Holy Child Jesus, each of us Saint Sophians has a magnificent future: a future of small deaths and large resurrections and, being filled with the Holy Spirit, an eternal life in which we will meet God face-to-face in new bodies. As Orthodox Christians we live in continual anticipation of a glorious eternal life, for which we express our gratitude now through our works.
Names have meaning: they identify us, and they purpose us. To be a Saint Sophian is to be aware of the power and wisdom of Mid-Pentecost, and to worship with the enthusiasm of twelve-year-old-Jesus.
We don't have to walk on water; we don't have to raise the dead; we don't have to feed five thousand with a loaf of bread. We have only to enter the temple as the home of our Father and learn and worship until someday we find ourselves transformed into full-fledged children of God. Δόξα ο θεός.