Today is Pentecost Sunday, the day Christian church’s celebrate the coming
of the Holy Spirit. It is also the end of the Easter season, the time when
churches have celebrated the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It is a
time of great rejoicing and joy. It culminates in most churches with
services of joy and exuberance. Many churches are decorated with flames,
people wear red, some even have a cake as they celebrate the “birthday” of
the church. As I say, a time of joy and happiness.
As with most celebrations though, there is a danger that the celebration
overtakes the significance of the event. Pentecost means “fiftieth day”. On
this day, 50 days after Easter (counting both Easter Day and today) the Holy
Spirit descended onto the apostles and empowered them for the missionary
work entrusted to them by Jesus. It is an appropriate day because Pentecost
is the day Jews celebrated the wheat harvest.
Here is the danger. We are all familiar with and can empathise with the
events of that day. A powerful wind filled the house where the disciples
were staying, tongues of flame descended on them, they spoke in other
languages so that all foreigners in the city were able to understand them.
Peter spoke boldly and gave the first sermon and 3000 were baptised. A
dramatic change from the terrified disciples of Easter and the bewildered
disciples after as they wondered what they were to do now that Jesus had
Prior to Jesus ascension, he told them they were to be his witnesses in
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the world (Acts 1:8). Before he died, he told
them that he would send an Advocate who would help them to do just this. The
Holy Spirit is here for us today to continue the mission given to the
original disciples. The church was birthed on Pentecost. We have the
responsibility to continue being the presence of Jesus in the world today to
testify about him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Celebrate with joy the
coming of the Holy Spirit but let us not forget the mission that the Spirit
empowers to undertake.