Pentecost is the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy
Spirit. It is celebrated on the Sunday 50 days after Easter.
Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian church, and the start of the church's mission to the world.
The Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is the way Christians understand God.
Celebrating Pentecost. Pentecost is a happy festival. Ministers in church often wear robes with red in the design as a symbol of the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth.
Hymns sung at Pentecost take the Holy Spirit as their theme, and include: Come down O Love Divine, Come Holy Ghost our souls inspire, Breathe on me breath of God, O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us, There's a spirit in the air and Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.
The symbols of Pentecost are those of the Holy Spirit and include: flames, wind, the breath of God and a Dove.
The first Pentecost
Pentecost comes from a Jewish harvest festival called Shavuot.
The apostles were celebrating this festival when the Holy Spirit descended on them.
It sounded like a very strong wind, and it looked like tongues of fire.
The apostles then found themselves speaking in foreign languages, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
People passing by at first thought that they must be drunk, but the apostle Peter told the crowd that the apostles were full of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost (Shavuot) is one of two great festivals observed by the Jewish people in the spring. It is the festival of the wheat harvest and it recalls a key event in Israel's history - when God gave Moses the Law on Mount Sinai and initiated a covenant with the people of Israel.
Shavuot takes place fifty days after Pesach (Passover) and marks the culmination of the Jewish Feast of Weeks. (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).
For Christians, the Day of Pentecost takes place fifty days after Jesus' resurrection and ten days after Jesus' ascension into heaven. The coming of the Holy Spirit marks the fulfillment of Jesus' post-resurrection promise when he told his disciples: 'Don't leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. . . the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world. (Acts 1:4, 8,)
On the Day of Pentecost, the Church celebrates the fulfillment of Jesus' pre-resurrection promise that the disciples would not be left alone (John 14:15-18) and calls to mind the words of the prophet Joel:
The LORD said: Later, I will give my Spirit to everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will have dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will even give my Spirit to my servants, both men and women. (Joel 2:28,29)
Thus the Church celebrates its "birthday" and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
According to a practice of ancient origin, the Day of Pentecost is also known as "Whitsunday," a name that is derived from the white garments worn by those seeking baptism at this festival.
The Pentecost season is the concluding and longest cycle in the church year. The number of Sundays in this season may vary, anywhere from 24 to 28, depending on when Easter occurs, and concludes with Christ the King Sunday, which generally occurs in late November. In the Roman Catholic and Anglican Episcopal traditions, the cycle is referred to as Ordinary Time, so called to mark the activity of God in the midst of the ordinariness of the church and human experience.
The liturgical colour for the Day of Pentecost is red, but green is used throughout the remaining weeks of the cycle to signal the season as a time for growth and renewal. While the Day of Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the remaining weeks call the Church to focus on the Spirit's power and to make Christ known through its life and mission, carrying out Jesus' mandate to "go to the people of all nations" (Matthew 28:19,20). The post-Pentecost Church is a Spirit-led pilgrim church, embarking on its journey in mission.
The Day of Pentecost also marks the conclusion of the Easter cycle and thus serves as the transition into the next season. As "Easter people" Christians are now called to discipleship, empowered by the Holy Spirit to tell everyone about Jesus (Acts 1:8).
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