Christ Church-Montpelier Celebrates 150 Years, Forges into Future with ‘Hearts on Fire’
Sizzling New Graphic by Local Artist Mike Ridge Reminds Community of Holy Spirit at Work
MONTPELIER, Vermont – The year 2018 marks 150 years of Christ Episcopal Church’s presence on its present site in downtown Montpelier. As we prepare to celebrate our sesquicentennial on the weekend of June 1-3, 2018, we will be erecting a banner on the front of the church that will surely capture the attention of many passersby. The banner will feature a descending dove which is representative of the Holy Spirit’s presence among us. Beneath the dove is a phrase that reads “May God take your hearts and set them on fire!” which is a verse from a benediction that we frequently use at Christ Church. We thought it might be helpful to explain to the community the significance of the dove and why we chose to use this particular depiction on our banner.
This celebratory dove banner, designed by local Montpelier sculptor, artist and painter, Mike Ridge, combines the traditional scriptural symbols of a dove and of flame as representative of the Holy Spirit. In the Bible’s Old Testament, the Spirit of God is most memorably represented in flame as a burning bush (Exodus 3:2) and also as a chariot of fire. (2 Kings 2:11) Another example of God’s Spirit present in flame was through the pillar of fire that led the people of Israel out of Egypt and through the Sinai deserts. (Exodus 13:21-22) Also, in the Old Testament and in the book of Genesis, is the depiction of a dove which Noah released from the ark to determine if the flood waters had receded. Noah released the dove three times; the first two times the dove returned, but on the third release the dove didn’t return indicating to Noah that the time had come to begin again and start a new lease on life.
The Holy Spirit is both a gentle presence and a passionate, unpredictable force that calls us to action.
In the Bible’s New Testament, the symbolic representations of dove and flame continue to tell the story of the unpredictable movement of the Holy Spirit. In the gospel according to Luke (Luke 3:21-22), as Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, we are told that “heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.” In another story of Jesus’ baptism taken from Matthew’s gospel, (Matthew 3:11-12) John the Baptist speaks about Jesus when he says, “I baptize you with water, but one who is more powerful is coming after me; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire!” Finally, in the book attributed to the Acts of the Apostles, we are reminded that on the day of Pentecost, the arrival of the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in “divided tongues as flames of fire.” All of these scriptural references point to the fact that the Holy Spirit is both a gentle presence and a passionate, unpredictable force that calls us to action.
As we at Christ Episcopal Church forge into the future, we do so with the conviction that the Holy Spirit will continue calling us to action by transforming lives and by doing God’s work in the neighborhood. We are grateful to be an integral part of a dynamic community that is big in heart yet, small enough for us to say that all our neighbors are our friends. Please feel welcome to join us for any and all the celebration events scheduled for our 150th anniversary on the first weekend in June.
Rev. Paul M. Habersang
Christ Episcopal Church