Dear Church Family,
A very happy birthday to you! Tomorrow is the feast of Pentecost, probably the most important day in the church calendar after Easter and Christmas. Often referred to as the birthday of the church, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples as they gathered together, wondering what was going to happen to them.
The account in the book of Acts, Chapter 2 describes the Holy Spirit sounding like “a rush of violent wind” and then appearing above the disciple’s heads as “tongues of fire”. Once filled with the Spirit, they began speaking in different languages “as the Spirit gave them ability.” From their Upper Room meeting place, where they had been hiding away, they then head outside to preach the Gospel to the gathered crowds celebrating Shavuot (The Festival of Weeks), which itself was a gathering to celebrate the people of Israel receiving the Torah (Law) from God at Mount Sinai. Much like God appearing to Moses and then to the people of Israel, Pentecost celebrates the presence of God moving from a small group of followers to a much wider group as the Christian faith begins to spread from “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth” as Jesus had indicated in Acts 1:8.
There is more going on in the story than callbacks to Old Testament theophanies; we are seeing the work of the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit that was present in creation, hovering over the waters. It’s the same Spirit that carries the unborn Christ to Mary’s womb that will now overshadow the church, giving heavenly abilities to those who receive it and uniting the followers of Christ as the very dwelling place of God on earth. Pentecost reminds us that as Christians, we are the new Temple of God. In 1 Peter 2:5 we read, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”