After witnessing the Ascension of Christ, the disciples travel to Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Shavuot. Shavuot is a Jewish agricultural holiday, translated in ancient Greek as “Pentecost.” Gathered together for on the fiftieth day since the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples were amazed as God poured out the Holy Spirit upon them, in an episode of violent wind and fiery tongues. Saint Peter interpreted this event for those gathered and the church was born.
Unfortunately, our English translation underplays the imagery in the book of Acts. Theologian Frank Crouch writes that the imagery in the Greek text is much more “fear-inducing, adrenalin-pumping, wind-tossed, fire-singed, smoke-filled turmoil.”
Just after the Holy Spirit makes its grand entrance in that smoke-filled moment, Peter explains what has happened by quoting the Prophet Joel: “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
Men and women, young and old, sons and daughters, boys and girls, slave and free shall prophesy. God pours out the Spirit on all. The Holy Spirit is poured out in the same inclusive love with which Jesus lead his disciples. All people are included: young and old, slave and free, male and female. The old systems are being cast down and God’s life-giving and loving Spirit is freely available to all people.
What a perfect occasion for a celebration! On Pentecost Sunday, we mark the birthday of the Church with baptisms, beautiful music, and much fanfare. We welcome back from sabbatical our Rector, the Reverend Ollie Rencher, and we will continue our celebration after worship with a Parish Picnic at Independence Park (more information in the news and notices).
Happy Pentecost to all on this celebratory feast! May God’s celestial fire burn in our hearts as follow the way of our risen Lord.
The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Associate Rector