Pentecost is the feast of overflowing joy! How could it be otherwise, when the Spirit who IS the eternal Joy and Love that exists between the Father and the Son is poured out upon the world?
At tonight's service, the Vigil of Pentecost, the entrance hymn will be this ancient hymn of Rabanus Maurus (d. 856):
Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
And make our hearts Your place of rest;
Come with Your grace and heav'nly aid,
And fill the hearts which You have made.
To You, the Counselor, we cry,
To You the gift of God Most High:
The fount of life, and fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.
In You, with graces seven-fold,
We God's almighty hand behold
While You with tongues of fire proclaim
To all the world His holy name.
Your light to ev'ry thought impart,
And shed Your love in ev'ry heart;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.
Drive far away our wily foe,
And Your abiding peace bestow;
With You as our protecting guide,
No evil can with us abide.
Teach us to know the Father, Son,
And You, from both, as Three in One
That we Your name may ever bless
And in our lives the truth confess.
Praise we the Father and the Son
And Holy Spirit, with them One,
And may the Son on us bestow,
The gifts that from the Spirit flow.
There is much in the liturgy of Pentecost that I dearly love, but above all the cry from the Alleluia Verse:
"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your love!"
For, of course, the Spirit is not only Joy, but Love. Love as a person. And so the Blessed Apostle in Romans 5 speaks of how "the love of God is poured out in our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us." When you think then of the first and great commandment: "to love the Lord your God with all your heart" in connection with Pentecost we see what this commandment is demanding of us: to be filled with Him who IS that Love, to overflow with the Holy Spirit. And that is where Gift meets and fills the commandment to overflowing.
But it doesn't stop there either. For the Spirit comes not only to fill us up with love, but with faith. Faith in the Father, trusting the promises of the eternal Son - this is the Holy Spirit's gift to us also:
"In holy faith Your Church unite; from ev'ry land and ev'ry tongue This to Your praise, O Lord, our God be sung: Alleluia! Alleluia!" (LSB 497:1)
Indeed, this is the feast of Him who is given us as our Joy, our Love, and our Faith. Is it any wonder that the holy Church cries out in the Pentecost preface: "For all this the whole world rejoices with exceeding joy!"?