Pentecost: A principal Christian Feast.

What is Pentecost?

This coming Sunday Christians across the world will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost remembers the birthday of the church and should be celebrated with commitment and enthusiasm.


Pentecost Sunday commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first followers of Jesus. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the disciples could not really be called the Church yet, since the Spirit brings the church into existence and gives the resurrection life of Jesus to her. This is why we say that on the first Pentecost Sunday the Christian Church was born when the Spirit was poured out on us who believe in Jesus.


What does the word “Pentecost” mean?

The English word “Pentecost” comes from a Greek word for “fifty” and was the name the Greek speaking Jews called the Hebrew festival “Shavuot”. Both Shavuot (Hebrew) and Pentecost (Greek) means “fifty”. This name comes from a decree in Leviticus 23:16, which instructs people to count seven weeks or “fifty days” from the end of the Hebrew Passover to Shavuot, a harvest festival celebrating the “first fruits” on the farms. It also later became the feast of thanksgiving for the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.


In the same way that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was crucified on the day and during the time when the Hebrew Passover lamb was slaughtered in the temple during the Passover feast, the Holy Spirit was also poured out on the very day when the Hebrews celebrated the first fruits of the harvest and the coming of the law – Shavuot or Pentecost.


It seems that God values the days of celebration he instated and gives a deep spiritual meaning to them: that we who follow Jesus may grow in knowledge, gratefulness, and commitment. And that we will never forget God’s great deeds of salvation.


The first fruits of the church, more than 3000 people saved and brought into the first congregation in Jerusalem, after Peter preached his first sermon after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church on that day, the Hebrew Pentecost day, a Sunday.


As you might expect, there are a wide range of Christian celebrations of Pentecost amongst all the many denominations. Most churches at least mention it in prayer, song, and sermon. Churches that employ liturgical colours generally use red on Pentecost Sunday as a symbol of the power and the fire of the Holy Spirit.


So, Sunday we celebrate the birthday of the Church, when God by the power of the Holy Spirit gave a harvest of believers because of the “seed” of the blood Jesus planted on the cross and through his resurrection.


We too are part of that harvest – we, and all we will tell of the wondrous Gospel that Jesus came into this world to save sinners.