Faith: As you prepare for Pentecost Sunday, remember the early disciples
St. Mark’s Church of Grace
This Sunday, June 5, 2022, is a major festival/feast day in the Western Church, known as Pentecost or Whitsunday, but the celebration of that day naturally derives from Judaism, where it was originally celebrated as a harvest festival known as Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks.
This was celebrated fifty days (pente) after the first day of Passover. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. the emphasis changed to the Israelites receiving the Torah. It should be noted that Shavuot was a major feast in Judaism and observant Jews were expected to travel to Jerusalem in observance of the feast.
This helps us understand why the Holy Spirit would descend upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem a scant 10 days after His ascension into heaven. Jerusalem would be filled with Jewish people from around the Diaspora, and there would be people from every area in the Mediterranean basin where the Jews had settled. The followers of Jesus Christ had remained in Jerusalem awaiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus, when He promised His followers that He would not leave them without a Holy Comforter.
They were fearful, knowing that they might be hunted down for being followers of The Way, literally huddled in place in the Upper Room when there came a sound like that of a violent rush of wind which filled the entire room and then divided tongues of fire appeared and rested upon each one of them.
Then the uneducated men and women in the room began to speak in known languages, each of which could be understood by the Jewish visitors to Jerusalem in their native tongues, and they were proclaiming God’s deeds of power.
St. Peter began to address the visitors to Jerusalem and to let them know of the fulfillment of prophecy from the Prophet Joel, when he said that, “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.” (NRSV, Acts of the Apostles 2: 17-19).
As a result of St. Peter’s addressing the skeptical crowd close to three thousand persons were baptized, professing their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
What is the effect of this baptism upon thousands of people those two thousand years ago? Fulfillment of prophecy is of utmost priority in that the coming of the Holy Spirit came to pass exactly as Jesus had promised His disciples.
The gift of the Spirit was not for the few, but for all who believed on Him and His promises to us. It mattered not whether one was male or female, Greek or Jew, educated or uneducated. This was the birthday of the Church for all who place their faith in Him, and a final ending from the Prophet Joel, when he stated, “Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (NRSV, Acts of the Apostles 2: 21).
As you prepare for Pentecost Sunday this week, consider wearing the color red to remind us of the tongues of fire that descended upon those early disciples as they knew that they must go into the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They laid down their lives in order that we might continue to continue as the Body of Christ, the Church.
The Rev. Bain White is the priest/pastor at St. Mark’s Church of Grace in Craig. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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