Celebrating HOPE at Pentecost

The Spirit came like a doveYesterday was Pentecost Sunday, the day the church remembers and celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In the churches I grew up in there was some caution around this day, not so much with ‘Pentecost’, but with ‘Pentecostal’. There were concerns with ‘Pentecostal’ theology and styles of worship, and sadly this caution sometimes lead to an avoidance of the Day of Pentecost itself.

Pentecost was originally an Old Testament festival, called the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). It began as an agricultural festival celebrating and giving thanks for the “first fruits” of the early spring harvest (Lev 23, Ex 23, 34) but by the early New Testament period it had became associated with the celebration of God’s creation of his people and the giving of Torah (the “Law”) on Mount Sinai.

In Acts 2 Luke records the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on those in the upper room during Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem. They link these events to the prophecies of Joel 2 and promises of Jesus (Acts 1:8). The emphasis is primarily on an empowering by the Holy Spirit to enable the people of God to witness to Jesus the Christ.

There is debate about exactly what happened at Pentecost, whether it is once off or repeatable event; and whether it should or should not be the experience of all Christians. Whatever one’s preference here, what it most clear is that Pentecost represents God’s gracious presence, enabling his people to live as witnesses for him.

Pentecost Day is a day to celebrate hope. It reminds us that God is at work through his Holy Spirit among his people. It is a time to celebrate God’s ongoing work of saving this world, and that the way this is done is through his people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost reminds us that Jesus is not finished with his church. There is much room for celebration and hope.

Let us pray God will enable you to be open to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in your life, and in the life of your local church.

Stephen L Baxter

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2 thoughts on “Celebrating HOPE at Pentecost

  1. Rosa Koster says:

    Ever wondered if John 14 has anything to do with Pentecost, and a bit more too?
    Jesus refers to his father’s house having many “rooms” and Jesus was going here to prepare a place for us. KJV of this passage called them “mansions” which got us all thinking He was a divine contractor building mansions in Heaven. I understand the original Greek or Hebrew of that word is to be “at home”, and we know we’re all temples of the living God. I love the idea that Jesus wants to be “at home” in my life – where I’m experiencing as much community with him and the Father, as they experience together… and that’s what we’ve been invited into.
    I wonder if Jesus “going to prepare a place for us” was actually him conquering sin and shame, overcoming death on the cross, so that his dwelling in us can be a reality we experience daily. When he says “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”, could the “coming back” actually mean its in a couple of days, ie the resurrection?
    Other parts of this chapter refers to the Father sending an “advocate” to help and be with us forever, sending the Holy Spirit, which is what happened at Pentecost.
    I reckon Pentecost is something we can experience all the time. A reminder of God being “at home” in us.

    • Hi Rosa, that’s a great insight.
      The song, “I’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop” sums up the idea that as a carpenter Jesus has been working for 2,000 years getting heaven ready for us. However, interestingly John 14 says that that the “rooms” are already there, “In my Father’s house are many rooms (mansions: KJV). So Jesus is preparing a “place” (vs. 2) not build a house.
      It is also important to note that the phrase in “my Father’s house” has been used previously before in John’s Gospel. In 2:16 Jesus uses the words when referring to the temple in Jerusalem and significantly John reinterprets them to mean Jesus’ body (see 2:19-22). The physical “temple” will be destroyed in death and rebuilt in resurrection after three days. Here it is obvious that “my Father’s house” means the resurrected Jesus.
      So you are spot on when you suggest that the “dwelling place” in “my father’s house” that Jesus is talking about in John 14 is “in” Jesus himself. When the Holy Spirit comes it is God coming and making his home in us.

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