When I first heard the words “Pentecost Sunday” I thought it meant an annual holiday for Pentecostal Christians (go ahead, laugh at me lol).
I came to faith in an evangelical tradition that never taught about the liturgical holidays.
Years later in seminary, I began to learn about Church history and something called the Church calendar.
If you are a bit like I was, where Pentecost Sunday seems as familiar to you as how mining for crypto currency actually works, you’re not alone—and here is the beauty of this valuable celebration.
Short Overview: Pentecost Sunday
In Acts 1–2, we read about some strange things.
Violent rushing wind.
Tongues of fire.
Spontaneous bilingual abilities.
Fearful Peter boldly proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus.
So, what was going on?
The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word “pentekoste,” which means fiftieth.
The Jewish Pentecost celebration, also known as the festival of Shavout, Festival of Weeks, or First Fruits was on the fiftieth day after Passover (Passover is also when Christians celebrate Good Friday), see Leviticus 23:15–22.
During the ancient festival of Shavuot, Jewish men pilgrimaged to Jerusalem to offer the first of their harvest to the Lord at the temple. The men and women disciples gathered in Jerusalem as well.
Then the crazy started.
The Holy Spirit rumbled through the place where the disciples worshipped—like a violent wind, and what appeared to be like flames of fire rested over their heads.
The men and women disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, then busted out with spoken word more eloquent than Jackie Hill Perry—and in different languages.
They proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gospel message spontaneously.
People gathered to watch the street show and heard the good news in their native languages—from throughout the known world.
At last three thousand believers were added to their number that day.
The birth of the church was also a launching celebration of God’s Great Commission.
A Pentecost Experience
I met Jim Cohick at the symposium for launching the Visual Museum of Women in Christianity and he shared his moving compilation of reading and music for the day of Pentecost from Acts. I think it will bless you as you experience the Scripture that depicts the birth of the church:
The Power of Pentecost
#1 The Holy Spirit, God In Us
In John 14:15–20, Jesus comforted His disciples before He left them, telling them the Spirit of Truth would come, . . . “But you know him, for he lives WITH you and will be IN you.” (emphasis mine)
Before the Spirit came, God dwelled with His disciples by the presence of Jesus (and before Jesus, he dwelled with Israel in the holy of holies in the tabernacle or temple).
The powerful thing is, when Jesus died the curtain in the temple tore in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). God tore the dividing wall, separating men and women from His Spirit, when Jesus offered himself as our sacrifice to make the way for us to be in God’s presence.
The gift of the Holy Spirit now indwells those of us who are in Christ by repentance and faith in Jesus (Acts 2:38, 1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Our bodies become His tabernacle, His temple.
#2 The Holy Spirit’s Empowerment
The New Testament includes many stories and instructions about the power of the Holy Spirit.
Some workings of the Holy Spirit include:
- Spiritual rebirth of the believer (Titus 3:4–7)
- Gifting believers with special abilities in order to build up the Body of Christ, the Church (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12)
- Empowering us to godliness (Galatians 5)
- Teaching us and bringing to remembrance the truth (John 14:16)
- Empowering believers to do what is according to God’s will for the proclamation of the Gospel (Book of Acts)
PRAISE GOD FOR THE GIFT OF HIS SPIRIT!
Take a moment to sit in silence and pray. Invite the Holy Spirit. Listen quietly. What comes to mind through the silence? A Scripture? A prayer? A sense of instruction or direction?
Write down what comes to mind. If you are unsure if it is your thought or the Spirit, ask God for confirmation from His Word or through other believers.
The more we practice discerning the still small voice of the Spirit, the more we will become aware of His power to guide us—in every moment.