For many modern-day/American/protestant believers, Pentecost is forgotten Sunday. Often overshadowed by Mother’s Day or Senior Sunday in the formal worship service, the celebration of Pentecost is lost. I am more and more convinced that this special day needs an invigorating dose of attention and celebration.
Pentecost is the day in which followers of Jesus commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early disciples. Before the events of the first Pentecost, there were followers of Jesus, but no movement that could be meaningfully called “the Church.” From a historical point of view, Pentecost is often depicted as the day the Church started.
Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday that falls on the 50th day of Easter. The feast remembers the coming of the Holy Spirit following the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. The second chapter of the book of Acts is the story of the first Pentecost and marks the beginning of the Church’s mission to the world. The traditional liturgical color is red, and I must say that the depiction of fire has always drawn me to this day.
This feast day was previously celebrated by the Jewish community as the Feast of Weeks. During this feast, the streets of Jerusalem were clogged with thousands of pilgrims who had come from everywhere to celebrate the goodness of God and the bringing in of the wheat harvest. Even in our modern context, this feast day is celebrated by some churches worldwide with an emphasis that it is second only to Easter. The celebration is one of limitless joy in the midst of what often becomes a post-resurrection return to the mundane rhythms of life. But Pentecost reminds us of the gift of God’s indwelling. It is a day of promise that no matter how dark the darkness may get, there is a light of hope and of connection. Pentecost has been a day for baptisms. Often churches celebrate their Confirmation classes joining the church and lift high the focus of the birth of the Church as a way to remind all in their community of the blessings of being connected together in the Holy Spirit’s work.
So how do you have a PENTECOST moment? When I set out to pray over my story and the detailed meanings behind each of the liturgical seasons depicted in my own journey, this was the most thought-provoking. I kept asking myself, “At what point did the uncontainable energy of God’s Spirit alive in my life fill my community with unexplainable joy?” These are the kinds of things that I think about often. (I know. I know.)
But we all have these moments. Ones that are filled with so much celebration. I often see them as a great time – a joy filled party – but rarely do I give the movement of God credit for the fiesta. I appreciate the decor, the host, the meal and even the wardrobe choices. I see the cake or the event as the focus rather than the Spirit of the day. My Pentecost moment, like much of my story, is unique. It is life-giving. It is soul filling. There were spirits and celebrations and dances and even some excellent apparel. Just like the early disciples, I had no idea how one moment of sheer celebration would shape my life.