St James Anglican Church

Notes from the Clergy

The Day of Pentecost has been celebrated by the church from the first moment the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and the gathered crowds; 50 days after the resurrection of Christ and 10 days after His Ascension. Originally Pentecost was considered the second most important day in the church year after Easter. Red Vestments are worn on Pentecost to symbolize the joy and fire of the Holy Spirit. Red flowers decorate the church symbolizing the renewal of life, the growth of the church and the coming of summer. Some churches hang red banners symbolizing the mighty wind blowing on that first Pentecost day, symbolizing free movement of the Spirit. Some churches invite parishioners to wear red clothing to indicate the new life within.

In older church calendars this day was called Whitsunday. Whit means white and it referred to the white clothing of those being baptized or confirmed or ordained. Special hymns and famous paintings have been inspired by this day. Pentecost is filled with flames, fire, wind, and doves. It is filled with baptisms and joyous hymns and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The celebration of Pentecost did not end with the church service but led to Whit Walks or Morris dancing and in some places cheese rolling. King Arthur gathered his knights at the round table for a feast and a quest. In Many European countries the Monday continues as a Pentecost holiday.

This Pentecost Day we are going to Beat the Bounds. Traditionally this was done on Ascension Day or during the week following. The parish priest and wardens and people would head out to walk the boundaries of the parish carrying green willow or birch branches. They walked to the boundary markers to pray for the protection and blessing of the people and lands. The boundary markers are then beaten by the branches with the very practical purpose of ensuring the integrity of the borders and that the oral tradition would continue. Of course each place had its own traditions. Some places whipped young boys around the boundaries by way of remembrance and stopped their cries with half pence coins. Others went on to drink ale after the walk.

Pentecost offers families and friends a chance to continue the tradition of celebrating the amazing life transforming work of the Holy Spirit at home.

Mother Alexis Saunders