Reverend Michael Knight, Celebrant, preacher, and our Sunday Missioner Extended
On Saturday at 5PM & Sunday at 8 AM and 10 AM, we welcome the Reverend Michael Knight, Celebrant, preacher, and our Sunday Missioner Extended for our LiveStream Services. Reverend Knight is a Retired priest of the Diocese of Pennsylvania who served at several local churches as Rector. He is blessed to be with us for our Livestream services. Father Michael Knight comes to the Chapel after a long career as a priest of the Diocese of Pennsylvania having served parishes in Upper Darby, Chester, West Chester and Norwood. He graduated from the former Philadelphia Divinity School and pursued doctoral studies at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary specializing in the teaching values of the Baptismal Covenant. His leadership in our diocese has included two terms as Dean, five terms on Diocesan Council, Chair of the Program Budget Committee, and on Diocesan committees including Stewardship, Spiritual Growth, Renewal Evangelism and Church Growth, Long Range Planning, Venture in Mission, and the Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee on Urban Concerns. His community involvements include board leadership for Foster Grandparents, a Community Nursing Association, and a private school.
He has three grown children, five grandchildren. He and his bride, Jan, (both widowed) have been married five years and make their home in Glen Mills. In retirement he volunteers as a Joiner/Millwright at the 1704 Newlin Grist Mill helping build a replacement wooden water wheel using 18th Century tools and methods. He is a Vietnam veteran and Agent Orange cancer survivor and retired as commander of the NJANG’s 170th Security Police Flight in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel.
WEEKLY SERVICE NOTES FROM FATHER KNIGHT
What Was Born At Pentecost?
Pentecost has come and with Pentecost, Jesus’s mission takes on new life in an unexpected new form. Thirty three years earlier a young girl said “yes” and God the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. She became pregnant. In her womb God had taken on flesh and would enter the world in human form.“… by the power of the Holy Spirit He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.” From His birth to His death, His physical existence carried the touch of God made tangible. The carpenter’s hands that fitted the ox’s yoke and the divine hand that created oxen were one touch. Perfect Humanity and Perfect Divinity together as one, Creator and created, God and the Image of God, God made manifest, Emmanuel, Perfect Love!
He turned 30. His cousin had plowed the ground. John had felt and responded to the Holy Spirit’s leading as long as he could remember, even leaping in Elizabeth’s womb in recognition of the still unborn Messiah. His preaching was electric! Crowds gathered to hear His words, words that contrasted futility and hope. Hundreds resolved to turn their lives around and made a new fresh start through John’s Baptism. Repentance. That start was possible because the weight of their past was washed away. But there would be more: “I baptize with water, but one is coming after me who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, and with fire!” Something in John’s message, something in the contagious joy of struggling souls set free drew Jesus to the edge of the crowd to listen. Deeply rooted in Jesus’s heart was compassion for their hopelessness and an irresistible yearning to set them free. His heart ached for these friends and neighbors, for the strangers from the towns down the road. In their faces He saw other faces, people from other lands, other languages, other times. He knew this was what He was born for and someday He would talk to John and maybe do something about that tugging on His heart. No, not someday! Today! He found himself bringing up the rear of the line. “What are you doing here?” John asked. “If anyone doesn’t need forgiveness it’s you!” For a moment John doubted that inner voice of the Holy Spirit telling him “This is the one!” Jesus’s words pushed his doubts aside. “I must be baptized so everything else will fall into place.
They were still standing in the water when Baptism took on a whole new meaning. They saw a vision of Heaven opening to their sight of God the Father on the Throne. The crowd heard God’s voice, the Father proclaiming “This is my son! The Beloved! I am so pleased with Him!” The words still echoed when they all saw an amazing something, in appearance like a dove, moving toward Jesus. This Energy reached Jesus and as it touched his forehead they saw it’s brightness radiating all around Him until it seemed to pour itself into Him. God the Holy Spirit was anointing Jesus and empowering Him to be the Messiah. The same Holy Spirit had anointed and overshadowed Mary at His conception, brought life to the first humans and hovered over the chaotic surface of the primordial sea at Creation.
God had come to earth in human form in Jesus, accepting all the limitations of human life: body, mind and spirit. It was the Anointing of the Holy Spirit that made the son of Mary the Messiah, the Christ, the human face in whom the world would see God. After His Ascension, that tangible, embodied, physical presence would be gone. Or would it?
The Jewish Pentecost was a pilgrimage feast when Jews from all over gathered in Jerusalem. They brought an offering from the first of the barley harvest and celebrated that day when God had entrusted Moses with the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. In the Upper Room gathering, we see God the Holy Spirit in earth-shaking, life-giving, fiery-wind energy. It came moving and filling the room, moving and filling Jesus’s followers. Its heat forged a deep spiritual connection among them, forming them into a new thing, a Spirit-empowered body.
The Holy Spirit birthed them into a unity formed from each one’s diversity of natural talents, learned skills and Spiritual gifts, their array of temperaments, habits and life experiences, even their weaknesses and failures and anointed each one for service to others. Each of them became, in effect, God’s gift to the others, and together, their assembly had been anointed to be God’s gift to all of Creation.
On that first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did in a new way what the Holy Spirit does. In the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit had conceived and birthed new life, forming the Body of Christ. This new Body spilled out into the pilgrim crowds around them. The crowd was caught up in their contagious enthusiastic joy, an irresistible Call Out from lives of hopelessness and despair to become part of this new thing, a unified Assembly of people whose lives had been made new in the Body that bears Christ’s Name and is now not just Christ’s face, but Christ’s hands, feet, eyes, ears, shoulders, voice, Christ’s entire Body, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered to be Christ for the World! (Italics explained below.)
What was born that day was Christ’s new Post-Ascension Body, the Church. One New Testament word for church is Ekklesia from kaleo (“to Call”) and ek (meaning “out” or “out of”). Earlier it had been used for a sacred political assembly of citizens called out in response to opportunities and threats to the community. (I’m reminded of a phrase I’ve heard somewhere, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”) The “Birthday of the Church” is so much more than a nostalgic anniversary of an organizations founding. It is the post Ascension Birth of Christ and is every bit as much about God taking on flesh as Christmas! It is this Spirit-birthed, Spirit-anointed Church we proclaim in the Apostles Creed in Baptism: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints…”
See you on Sunday’s livestream. You don’t need to be on FaceBook to take part.
Father Michael Knight
Sunday Missioner Extended
P.S. Next Week: Trinity of Persons, Unity of Being: A Love Story, Not a Math Problem!