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Saturday, 4 October 2014

What is Pentecost?

The readings we have heard this afternoon are for the day of Pentecost, which will be celebrated in churches this coming Sunday. Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after Christ ascended to heaven, and is also known as the birthday of the church.

The word “Pentecost” means 50th day, and it occurs 50 days after Easter Sunday. It is a day to celebrate hope born of the knowledge that God is at work among his people through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit represents God, gracious, enabling presence actively at work in his people. It is a celebration of newness, of recreation, of renewal of purpose, mission and calling of God’s people.

In the past, Pentecostal Sunday was also known as Whitsunday or White Sunday because the church had a tradition of baptizing people on Pentecost Sunday, just like the apostles baptized people in one of today’s readings. Those who were baptized wore white robes that day-hence the term Whitsunday, or White Sunday.

Pentecost Sunday starts the longest season of the church year, a season that runs from Trinity Sunday to the 1st Sunday of Advent. During this season, the church stresses vocation, evangelism, missions, stewardship, almsgiving and other works of mercy and charity in ways in which Christ empowers us by his grace to share the gospel with others-just like I am sharing it with you today. All baptized believers are part of a group that is called together to share Christ’s love. Those who are part of this group have the Holy Spirit working in them. That means each member has tasks that the Lord wants them to do, and these members have what it takes to do these tasks thanks to the Holy Spirit. Whenever the Holy Spirit is at work, people will come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to teach us about Jesus and give honour and glory to him. The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us when we ask Jesus into our hearts.

The event of the first Pentecost encourages us to open ourselves once again to the Spirit that came that day, where all those present became aware of the new community to which they now belonged. Their new experience was shown in shared enthusiasm and in a sense of new identity and belonging to Christ and to one another in the power of the Spirit. They expressed this in different ways according to their own cultures and customs. The church was brought together in unity that day through the Holy Spirit, and it is sustained today through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides the church in the missionary endeavor throughout the world, and the Spirit nurtures the Body of Christ, the church, in truth and love.

 


 

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