Pastors' Corner

Pentecost-“The Birthday of the Church”

We are approaching Pentecost – a time when we commemorate the coming of the
Holy Spirit upon the early followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. Pentecost originated in the
Jewish tradition, and was known as Shavuot or “The Feast of Weeks”—a prominent feast
in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses at Sinai.

In many Christian traditions, Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Easter (the original
Jewish feast of Pentecost was celebrated 50 days after Passover). The liturgical color for
Pentecost is red. Traditionally, Christians wear red in worship on Pentecost to symbolize
the tongues of fire that descended upon the early followers who were receiving the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the church” because it is the day when Jesus’
followers together received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as promised by God. They became Jesus’ witnesses, preaching the good news of his life, death and resurrection to everyone in the power of the Spirit. Together, they carried on the work of God’s Kingdom, and gathered together for prayer, fellowship, teaching and worship. This is the same work the church is to carry on today.

The story of the first Pentecost is recorded in the Bible in the Book of Acts. On the Jewish feast of Pentecost, the disciples were gathered. “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts 2:2-4). After Peter’s rousing sermon, the people ask how they should respond, and Peter replies, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:38-39). After this, those who accepted this message were baptized, and “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

Pentecost is a special season of hope for Christians. Often we get discouraged in our work. We lament that people don’t come to church the way they used to. Society doesn’t seem as interested in God or Jesus or the Bible like it did in the past. Pentecost reminds us that God is still at work in our world and in our church. Early followers of Jesus faced many of the same issues we face – they too lived in a culture that was hostile to Jesus. At times, it was difficult to be a follower of Jesus. Yet, the early church had the power of the Holy Spirit. They had the teachings of the Apostles. They had each other. They prayed and had fellowship with one another. And, by God’s grace, others continued to join them in their mission. We have the same Holy Spirit the first Christians had. We have the Apostles’ teaching, and we have each
other. We can carry on the same mission to which Jesus called and empowered the first Christians on that Pentecost Sunday long ago. Let us live into the hope of Pentecost!

Blessings,

Pastor Hilary Livingston

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