The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit came to the disciples as they were gathered together in Jerusalem. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the Holy Spirit was like the rush of a mighty wind, with tongues of flame like fire that rested on each person. After Easter, Pentecost is the second most important feast of the church.
“Pentecost” is from the Greek, meaning “fiftieth day.” It was the Greek name for the Hebrew Feast of Weeks, which fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. Christians took this name because this was the same day that the Spirit descended upon the apostles. The Feast of Weeks celebrated the calling of the Hebrews into a covenant relationship with God at Mt. Sinai. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the church realized a new covenant proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah years before: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:33)
The Feast of Pentecost has also been known as Whitsunday. This name probably came from the white robes worn on the day of baptism (White-Sunday).
Almighty and most merciful God, grant that by the indwelling of your Holy Spirit I may be enlightened and strengthened for your service. (BCP 251)
- In what ways do I need enlightenment?
- What part of the Holy Trinity do I look to for strength?
- What gifts have I been given for ministry?
- The New Covenant
- The Holy Spirit
- The Church
- The Ministry
- Holy Baptism
The Holy Spirit is revealed as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets and today is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us Gifts we need to strengthen in our relationship to God: understanding, proclamation, prophecy, love of God, knowledge, wisdom, fear of God. What are the gifts that the Spirit has bestowed upon me?
Reflection on God’s action in daily life
We celebrate the Holy Spirit as the power of God among us that heals, forgives, inspires, and unites. Images of wind and fire describe the Spirit poured out on disciples of all nations. In the one Spirit we were baptized into one body, and at the Lord’s Table the Spirit unites us for witness in the world. The Spirit calls us to follow in the way and in the pattern and in the shape of the life of Jesus.
- How does the Spirit work through me?
- How is that same wind blowing in my life as I look at the work I have been given to do?
- What are the gifts that I see manifested in those with whom I meet every day?
- Where do I see the Spirit at work in the world around me?
- Do I live my life in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely conceived freedom?
- Explore the images of the Spirit – life-breath (ruach), wind, fire, water. How do each of these images speak to your understanding of the Spirit in today’s world?
- Read the Acts of the Apostles to discover how the early church began.