What is the big deal about Pentecost? It’s just another church day, right? There are arguments that Pentecost is more important than Christmas. The pecking order being: Easter, Pentecost, Christmas. The rationale being that without Pentecost there would be no church. Without Pentecost, the message of God’s immense love and the sacrifice Jesus made would not have been spread to the far reaches of the world. Pentecost is extremely important because that is the day the disciples put aside their fears and anxieties and started to live into their calling: to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Pentecost is derived from the Greek word, pentekostos, meaning fifty and began long before the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. Pentecost (also known as the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot) was actually the second most important Jewish holiday. Originally it was a harvest festival but after the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and people could not bring their harvest offerings, Pentecost turned into a day to commemorate the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. The disciples were gathered in Jerusalem with Jews from all over to celebrate the Jewish holiday Pentecost. At this time, there was no church. They had not begun to tell anyone about Jesus. As promised, though, the Holy Spirit descended upon them. The prophet Joel prophesied: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).
The Holy Spirit came down, the disciples finally broke their silence, the crowds understand them in their own language, and thousands believed and chose to follow Jesus. The church was born! On Pentecost we celebrate the birth of the church, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, and the church living out its calling in the world. We decorate the church and ourselves in red to symbolize the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. We will turn out the lights and light a fire to symbolize the power of the Holy Spirit. We will celebrate together over red desserts the power and might of the Holy Spirit in guiding us and our church in the world. Is Pentecost just another day of worship? Absolutely not. It is a day to remember that the spirit has led us and continues to lead us out into the world
to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
By Pastor Jennifer Biel