The day 120 disciples were sent out to start the church is the day we now know as Pentecost. It is a day, in which the believers welcomed the presence of the Holy Spirit. This event heralded the unification of believers across every nation. When their hearts were open to receiving the Holy Spirit, God united them to form one mystical body – the Body of Christ, which is also known as the Church. Now we are the disciples, a community of faith bound together, and living daily as a vehicle for the continual manifestation of God’s calling for the world.
Every year, Pentecost Sunday arrives exactly fifty (50) days after Easter (Resurrection) Sunday. The word Pentecost in Greek means 50. In the book of Acts, Chapter 2, we get our first glimpse at the introduction of this holiday:
Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. (V.1-4; Living Bible)
From that day on, the Holy Spirit has lived in the hearts of all true believers. Although Pentecost officially brings the Easter season to a close, it more importantly opens the door for a new beginning. It is also a celebration of the giving of the law, not just of the past, but also of the future. Author and Huffington Post columnist Matthew L. Skinner explains, “Pentecost is an invitation to dream. For when a community of faith quits dreaming dreams, it has little to offer either its members or the wider world.”
Pentecost is a celebration through a remembrance of the power of God — the power of God that brings salvation to every believer. It’s too easy to forget the meaning and focus of a particular practice (or holiday) if your heart is not connected to Christ. We are equipped by the Holy Spirit to not just “observe” this holiday, but to live our lives according to its purpose in an effort to make our communities better, spreading God’s Word and love to all humankind.
Embracing others in and outside of the physical church is what God wants each of us to do. Being an example of love, shining bright in a word stricken by darkness is how you can turn a day of observance into a true celebration. Mark 5:16 (NIV), reminds us that “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Nothing we do is for ourselves; it should all be done to draw others closer to God and glorify His name. Giving yourself lovingly to the Church (the Body of Christ) is the best gift you can give to a God who has given us so much.
Let us reflect on the words of renowned evangelist William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., and live each day (not just Pentecost Sunday) empowered to impact and enhance the lives of others: “We are all united by the Holy Spirit who dwells within our hearts whether we are Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, Lutheran, or Anglican…[remember that] being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”