Just this morning a group of us guys from church had a large grill session of burgers, brats, and hot dogs in preparation for a Sunday celebration. This time of year is hugely significant when we attune ourselves to Holy Time because it is Pentecost. Ten days after recognizing Christ’s Ascension, and fifty days after our Lord’s resurrection from death, the Christian Calendar observes the day of Pentecost (which literally means “fifty” in Greek). The day coincides with an established Jewish festival, the Feast of Weeks. Back in the day, Jerusalem would be filled with all kinds of different nationalities and ethnicities during the festival.
Pentecost is often known as the birthday of the church. It marks the time when the Holy Spirit came upon the fledgling believers in power. The account is found in the New Testament book of Acts: “On the day of Pentecost all the Lord’s followers [120 believers] were together in one place. Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak” (Acts 2:1-4). The upshot of it all was that Peter, once an up-and-down follower, was filled with the Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly. His call to repentance and faith in Jesus led directly to three-thousand persons added to the little band of one-hundred twenty.
But it didn’t stop there. We live in a tremendous age in which all believers in Jesus have the same Holy Spirit as our spiritual ancestors. It is an era of the Spirit empowering the church to reach the world with the good news that there is forgiveness and grace through the person and work of Christ. So, then, the church possesses confidence and security in knowing that the Spirit’s enablement and power is available for the mission of proclaiming Christ to the nations. It is an immense call, a calling that befits the bigness of God.
There are a wide range of Christian celebrations of Pentecost. Some churches do not recognize the holiday at all. Most churches at least mention it in prayer, song, or sermon. Other churches go all out, with worship focused on remembering the first Pentecost and praying for a similar outpouring of divine power. Churches that employ liturgical colors generally use red on Pentecost as a symbol of power and fire of the Spirit.
Pentecost reminds us that Christians are meant to live in the presence and in the power of the Holy Spirit, all day, every day, 24/7. It is a chance to confess our shortcomings and failures because of fear, apathy, and selfishness, and to ask for a fresh infusing and infilling of God’s wonderful Spirit. Pentecost flings every single believer into a congregational whole, the church, and lets us know that we are not to be rugged individualists acting alone but are part of the Body of Christ. Thus, we must renew our commitment to the church for whom Christ died and the Spirit is ready to use. Pentecost throws disparate people together in a unified whole, made up of every kind of language, nationality, ethnicity, gender, and race. We are all to use the gifts of the Spirit given to us for the benefit of building up one another.
The church is the church because of the Holy Spirit. We are to do the work of spreading the gospel in passionate outreach using the power of the Spirit, equipping and encouraging each other displaying the fruit of the Spirit, and worshiping the person of the Spirit for always being present with us.
Pentecost was and is a watershed event. Worship, community, and outreach are the logical extensions and the collective responsibility of each and every church around the globe. In solidarity, let the day of Pentecost be recognized and observed with heartfelt thanksgiving and renewed impulses to exercising our spiritual abilities graciously promised by Jesus and given to us by the Holy Spirit.