“What are you doing to celebrate Pentecost?” Have you ever been asked that question? Each year we make big plans for Christmas and Easter, but many of us barely know anything about Pentecost. Yet for Christians, Pentecost was a truly important event. Fifty days after the crucifixion and resurrection, on the Jewish Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, 120 disciples were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. Jesus had told them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And so it happened that “When the day of Pentecost had come … there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, …. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…. (2:1-4)”
This event is of great significance to Christians. It is because of Pentecost that the Church is a community, the body of Christ. The Spirit within us helps us to be like Christ, to lovingly accept and selflessly share with one another. Through the Spirit, each believer is directly responsible before God to learn to depend on the Spirit, to grow in Christ, to allow God to control one’s entire life. When that happens, we can, like the early Church, live a corporate life of worship and fellowship in devotion to the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, prayer, and serving and loving each other. We are related to God as our Father, to Christ as our elder brother, and to all Christians as members of the family of God. It is the Holy Spirit who maintains and gives life to all these relationships, while helping us to personally live holy lives as we walk by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit also gives each believer one or more spiritual gifts, which build and edify the Church community.
It is also because of Pentecost that all Christians are able to “go on mission.” In our human weakness, we are often afraid to speak the truth of the gospel. Yet by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, given first at Pentecost, and since then to every believer, each one of us can boldly give witness of our Saviour. To witness is a command of Jesus Himself. The filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost made the lonely and frightened disciples into bold apostles and missionaries. The Holy Spirit was essential to the mission of the early Church, and He is essential to our mission today. Because of Christ’s love for us, in word and deed, we are constrained to demonstrate His love by our deeds, and to tell others of His love. The Spirit gives us the ability to carry out Christ’s command.
Perhaps it is just as well that we don’t celebrate Pentecost as a once-a-year event. Because only by allowing the Holy Spirit of Pentecost to work actively in our lives every day, every moment, can we live the truly abundant life God has planned for us, in our relationships with Himself and with the Church, in our personal Christian growth, and in our mission to bring the gospel to all the world.
Date: May 2005