The Jewish tradition has a feast we don’t know much about, a little something under our cross-cultural radar so to speak. It’s a celebration that translated from the Hebrew means Ushering In the Queen, a magnificent community time that’s bursting with song, food, wine, and psalm-ritual. The songs of David are belted out. The people dance. The children laugh. Yet, the truly outside-the-box thing that makes this celebration so magical and mysterious to us is that it’s a celebration of the feminine Spirit of GOD, the Shekhinah glory that filled the temple and drew people close to the Divine. The breath of GOD. The Spirit about whose presence David composed poetry. The wind that passed by Ezekiel. This is the Spirit who fell like fire-rain on Pentecost, who we will celebrate this Sunday.
We have our prescribed categories for the Holy Spirit. The metaphors are our favorite because they speak most (and maybe best) to this mysterious essence of the Trinity: fire, wind, breath, soul, comforter, interceder, language-giver. But what happens when we add to our image bank, our metaphor list, this rich category of the Royal Feminine? Suddenly our adjectives take on a whole new tangibility.
Perhaps that very reality makes us uncomfortable. It’s so well-situated in our heads to think of GOD as being supremely (and perhaps completely) male. But here is the beauty of this tension:
Think about all that is queenly… there is a dignity, a compassion, a mystery, a profound aesthetic. The image is elegant, fluid, accessible while utterly transcendent. The king represented all that was grand about the nation. The queen represented the most beautiful parts of humanity, of the people. When the king returned, there was a celebration of who he was and what he had done; but when the queen is brought in, there is a celebration of who we are and who we will become. The queen belongs to the people, encompasses them, holds them all in her essence. Her very presence makes things beautiful and soulfully luxurious, even if she doesn’t make things easy.
And so it is with the Spirit.
The Spirit has come to dwell, to inhabit, to mold together. The Spirit has come to be the mortar in the multi-stone walls of the Church. This is the Spirit that is celebrated annually by the Jewish people with songs of affirmation and beauty. And we can never forget that it’s the Spirit who works in our deepest places to shape us, form us, create within us all that resonates of Christ. This is part of our remembrance for the week, pieces of our prayer and our thanksgiving.
What does this do to our Pentecost encounter? Can we reshape our expectations and our expressions to make room for this kind of Presence? This is pure joy, pure awake-ness, pure life. This is GOD in fullness, doors thrown open and skies made velvet. The Queen has come to be with the people; the Presence of GOD ushered in by a mysterious and awesome way. The very heartbeat of the now-and-not-yet. This is our celebration.
How will you celebrate this? What songs could you sing? What images could you use? What rituals or stations could you create? How will you tell this piece of our story this week?
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