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  • The Rev. Barbara Ballenger

Rector’s Note: Opening our Doors to the Spirit this Pentecost-4.25.24

This Pentecost we’re going to find out what the full capacity of St. Peter’s is.

What is our capacity for people in the worship space?

What is our capacity for parking and potluck?

What is our capacity for liturgy and sacrament?

What is our capacity for the Holy Spirit?

This Pentecost, the bishop will be coming to St. Peter’s to baptize, confirm and receive new members into the church. He will speak with the vestry, look at our registry, and ask us how we are serving Jesus and changing the world.  He will confirm our confirmation class, and he will receive three adults into the church from other traditions. And he will baptize Ennis McCunney, who will have had his first birthday two week’s before.

But the bishop isn’t the only one whose visiting that day. We will also host two other Episcopal churches who needed a place for their parishioners to receive sacraments, as well. Not every church gets on the bishops’ calendar for an in-person visit. And not every church can make the diocesan-wide Confirmations that are scheduled twice a year. So we were asked to open our doors. And exercising our charism of welcome and hospitality, we are opening them wide.

St. James Parish in Collegeville will be joining us and bringing 18 people to receive these sacraments, as well as family, friends and parishioners. They’re also bringing two sheet cakes, and are printing the bulletin. Members of their choir will join ours in the loft. Participants will bring finger foods for our joint reception.

In addition, four Confirmation candidates and their families and clergy from the House of Prayer in the city will be joining us as well.

It’s gonna be a full house, folks. Including our own Sunday morning attendance, we anticipate more than 230 people will fill the church that day. That’s more than Easter, or both Christmas services combined. It will be glorious.

And it means that we’ll need to make room. Right now the plan is to use the high altar for the Eucharistic Prayer, so that we can add chairs to the space in front of the pews. That’s a rare occurrence for us, and I’m grateful that we have this flexible option to expand our seating. Communion will be distributed from the floor, so no one has to climb steps to receive.  Weather permitting, we’ll have options for sitting in the courtyard for those who might want more space. And the live stream will be humming.

It also means we’ll make time --  time for more than 30 people to be baptized, confirmed or received. It will be a long liturgy, filled with song and prayer and special guests.  When you consider the story of the Holy Spirit descending on the heads of the disciples in the upper room, it’s an apt day to fill the church with people hungry for that Spirit.

It means we’ll make a party. The reception afterward will be finger food brought by our members and guests. Those who can, will stand to eat and chat and greet and offer a seat to those who need one.

It means you might have to come early to secure a seat and use the side streets for parking. New Life Presbyterian Church has graciously offered its parking lots just northwest of us on Easton Road, between Castlewood and Fairfield roads.  We will provide maps to our guests showing where to park on the surrounding streets. We plan to hire an off-duty police officer to assist people with crossing the street for those who park on the other side of Easton Road.

It means we’ll have to stretch in lots of great ways, and since we’ve had a practice of stretching for awhile now, it should be a gentle process of making room. And when we’ve made that room, I trust the Holy Spirit to continue to fill it in all the ways that she sees fit in the Pentecost season that follows.

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