Washington Plaza folks, remember to wear RED on Sunday as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church– a great festivial day in the church year!
Several of you have asked me recently: what is Pentecost?
Courteousy of a online Christian site, here is a good place to start the conversation:
Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means “fiftieth day” and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.
WHAT HAPPENED ON PENTECOST?
Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus’ mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover. While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29). The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This created a sensation. The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day. (You can read the Biblical account of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-41).
WHAT IS THE LITURGICAL COLOR FOR PENTECOST?
Red is the liturgical color for this day. Red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost. The color red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. These are the believers of every generation who by the power of the Holy Spirit hold firm to the true faith even at the cost of their lives.
WHAT IS THE SEASON AFTER PENTECOST?
Because Pentecost is the day that God poured out His Holy Spirit on Christ’s disciples, the Season after Pentecost is centered on sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit in the day to day life of the Christian. This is reflected in the liturgical color for this season: green, the color of life and growth. Through the gift of faith that comes only from the Holy Spirit, Christians are enabled to trust in Christ and proclaim Him in their daily lives by service to their neighbors. The season after Pentecost is the longest season of the church year — it lasts from Trinity Sunday [which we will celebrate on June 7th] until the first Sunday of Advent. This is the non-festival portion of the liturgical calendar during which the church stresses vocation, evangelism, missions, stewardship, and other works of mercy and charity as ways in which Christ empowers us by His grace to share the Gospel.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE PENTECOST?
There are three “mega-festivals” commemorated in the Christian calendar. The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well known to both believers and non-believers. But it’s possible that even liturgical Christians may not be as familiar with the third, the festival of Pentecost. This precious gift of faith in the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ is the reason Pentecost is the third “mega-festival” of the church and why we celebrate it with such joy and thanksgiving.