We spend 12 days celebrating the Incarnation and 50 the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit gets just the Day of Pentecost. A conversation with a colleague over the weekend got me wondering if we give the Spirt short shrift.

Maybe it’s just because her work so easy to grasp, at least according the Bible passages read out yesterday. The Christian Pentecost occurred when the disciples were “all together in one place” — the Spirit alive in rare moments of unity and consensus and profound clarity. Those times grandchildren crawl into our laps also qualify, as well as Christmas dinners when no one argues. And she comes when we’re beaten down, speaking “with sighs too deep for words” — the Spirit as comforter. And she goads us into new ways of thinking — the Spirit as teacher.

These are surely gifts we can use in these strange times. At The Parish of St. Matthew – The Episcopal Church in Pacific Palisades, the Day of Pentecost was also confirmation day for nine young people and adults. As usual, by pretending to try to talk them out of it, I stressed that it is reckless and potentially dangerous to pledge ourselves to daily acts of forbearance, mercy, and self-sacrifice in selfish, secularizing times. But the Pentecost Nine were up to my challenge, having been exceptionally well prepared, as many hundreds have been over the years, by director of program ministry Missy Morain. One of her alums served as my chaplain, Sam Ufkes, who attends Loyola University New Orleans and exhibits a theological bent that bears watching.

Besides all that, I presided and preached at a glorious service of Holy Eucharist on a perfect sunny morning along the coast among perhaps 175 friendly people with amazing stories to tell about their backgrounds and vocations. This is a service-driven congregation, which contributes $500,000 a year to its ministry partners in the community. Members are also involved in a campaign to recognize and lament centuries of unpaid royalties to authors and composers of African-American spirituals and encourage reparation in the form of scholarship support to young musicians of African descent.

Besides the confirmations, the busy Holy Spirit accomplished three baptisms — baby Jack and youth siblings Mac and Katie Ray. Katie Ray was also confirmed. We decided to hold off on ordination for now. The devoted, amiable rector, the Rev. Bruce A. Freeman, who oversees an operation that is diocesan in complexity, and assistant priest KC Robertson had organized everything beautifully. Under the directorship of Dwayne S. Milburn, with Haesung Park at the organ, the St. Matthew’s Choir was glorious.

It was good to meet Josh Chamberlain, coordinator of St. Matthew’s’ youth residency program, which will help form young leadership for the church by inviting young people actually to help run the church. Then there’s Missy’s thinking about getting the church to think strategically about involving youth in our regular worship, plus St. Matthew’s’ historic commitment to the Neighborhood Youth Association, which prepares first-generation high schoolers for four-year colleges. At St. Matthew’s, youth ministry is far more than youth Sunday. Bravo!

And yet there is wisdom in both the ancient and modern. The renowned parish school is still teaching Latin as a required course, or so I was reminded by the Latin teacher herself, Bailey Humes, a St. Matthew’s member and the daughter of President Nixon’s White House speechwriter, and Kathy’s and my friend of many years, the late Jamie Humes.