I am a big fan of the Seasonal Blessings that are published in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Occasional Services. As one who prefers simple over the often unnecessarily complex when it comes to worship, I tend to prefer the single sentence blessings over the four-fold ones, but all of them are good, even if some are easier to say than other. (See “your eternal inheritance” in the third part of the four-fold Easter Season blessing). Of all the blessings published there, one of my favorites has to be the single sentence blessing for the Day of Pentecost. I like to use it all season long, and while the Aaronic Blessing works well for Trinity Sunday, the Gospel appointed for Year C begs the Celebrant to use the Pentecost Day blessing this week as well.
May the Spirit of truth lead you into all truth, giving you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and to proclaim the wonderful works of God; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen. (BOS 2003, 27)
As Jesus prepares his disciples for his imminent departure, he promises them in John 14:15, another advocate, the Paraclete, to be with them forever. Immediately, in the very next verse, Jesus describes the work of the Paraclete as the “Spirit of truth,” or in Greek to pneuma tas alatheias – a spirit which Jesus says world cannot receive because they do not know the truth. When he reprises the theme later in chapter 16, a portion of which is appointed for Trinity Sunday C, Jesus uses the exact same phrase to describe the Spirit of truth who will come to help the disciples come to grips with the fullness of the truth that even they can not handle at this point.
The fullness of the truth of God’s love is impossible for the world to understand, to be sure, but here Jesus seems to indicate that it is even too much for those who are following Jesus. They won’t understand his death. They’ll miss the fullness of joy that should follow his resurrection. They’ll struggle with their call to feed his lambs, to preach the Gospel, to baptize, to teach, to be one, and, most especially, the commandment to love one another. They will consistently fall short of the truth of God’s love, and so do I.
The Spirit of truth has to be revealed slowly, over a lifetime, otherwise it is too much even for Jesus’ closest followers to handle. That’s why I love the blessing for the Day of Pentecost so much. Inviting the Spirit of truth to lead us into all truth is part of that lifelong process of discipleship and sanctification. It is the blessing of joining the journey of revelation that God is constantly inviting us into. It is a blessing we could hear everyday, and it wouldn’t be too often.