June 8, 2022
By Jo Wiersema
Midweek Musings is a weekly Covenant blog with a variety of authors and a variety of topics.
Covenant, comparatively, does a lot more for Pentecost than many other churches. For those who maybe already know a lot, and for those who might be vaguely familiar with the church date, we’re going to spend some time in this post talking about the details of this fire-filled holiday.
Pentecost is not an explicitly Christian holiday, so we’re going to go back in time and spend the next 500 words or so unpacking the action and drama that is Acts 2:1-21.
The day we call Pentecost comes 50 days after the tomb is found empty. This is 10 days after Christ ascended into heaven and the apostles are told at the ascension that the Holy Spirit will baptize them all (Acts 1:5). Christ isn’t quite so clear as to when that day will come, but the eleven apostles have a bit of forewarning to know what they’re looking out for. The eleven realize that they need to elect another to their midst, to round out to the even twelve after the death of Judas. Matthias is elected to that position after lots were drawn (Acts 1:22-26).
The day of Pentecost as it’s called in the scriptures, is the same as the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, also known as the Festival of Weeks. Pentecost just happens to be the Greek name for this Hebrew event.
Shavuot is celebrated 7 weeks after the Passover. If we remember, the Passover dinner is historically where we see the last supper taking place in Scripture. Shavuot is meant as a day of remembrance of the Torah being given to the people of Israel.
It is on this day (Shavuot/Pentecost) that the Holy Spirit then comes down to the apostles. This is depicted with the phrase “Tongues of Fire”, which is where we get our fire paraphernalia and the liturgical color of red. This “fire” causes the apostles to be able to speak in many languages.
The people who surrounded the apostles were from many different countries, but even so, they could understand them. This physical embodiment of the Holy Spirit rounded out what we now know and acknowledge as the Triune God (Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer/Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
This event is only seen in the book of Acts, but the powerful nature of this physical action of the Holy Spirit is different than so much of what we saw in the life and ministry of Christ.
The Holy Spirit plays a special part in the book of Acts, reappearing again and again to support the first church, the first missionaries, and continuing through history. The concept of the Holy Spirit can be something elusive, even as adults.
In Kaleidoscope Kids we define it in our story of Baptism as such:
“The Holy Spirit goes where it will. It rides the
invisible wind like a dove and comes to us when
we need its comfort and power.
It is invisible, like the scent of a fragrant oil. It is invisible
but still there.”
So, we have a kite flying, in the invisible wind to come to us in comfort or power. Maybe the morning is slow and the sight of a kite is shocking, but it’s a nice reminder for the third part of our favorite trio.
May the Holy Spirit lift you up through all your days, Jo