Why do Christians celebrate Pentecost?
Pentecost celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Disciples, marking the beginning of the church's mission in the world. Through the work of the church, God is active in the world. Pentecost comes from the Greek Word meaning 50 and is celebrated on the 50th day from Easter Sunday.
Revd Canon Tim Jones, Director of Ministry & Discipleship, tells us more about this important Christian festival.
- Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit after his departure (John 15.26). Our understanding of the Spirit is shaped by the human experience of God's activity from ancient times: from the dawn of Creation to the Baptism of Jesus, the Bible speaks in personal terms of the breath of God being active in the world, bringing life and love. Jesus' promise was fulfilled in very dramatic form: at the Festival of Pentecost, the Church was given the living power of God for its mission (Acts 2).
- The earliest Christians celebrated the whole fifty-day period from Passover & Easter to Pentecost as one glorious festival season, following the Jewish pattern of observance. But gradually the importance of the Day of Pentecost came to be celebrated in its own right, as the Christian community realized the huge theological significance of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
- Christian faith recognizes that the Holy Spirit is God, and that Jesus is God, and that there is One God: the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father are distinct from each other, but they are One Being. So that Pentecost after Jesus' Ascension, the Church was filled with the presence of God. We have been given a huge mission by Jesus, but we are never without the Comfort and the power we need: God is at work in us.
- Bishops wear a special kind of hat called a mitre: the Bible reports that on the day of Pentecost “divided tongues as of fire” came to rest on the heads of the Apostles. Mitres are deliberately shaped to look like a flickering flame (symbolizing energy and action) because bishops have inherited the role of the Apostles in the life of the Church, providing guidance, leadership and love – bishops are a living symbol of God's presence in the life of the Church. Other symbols for the Holy Spirit include moving air such as wind or breath, symbolizing the life of God, and a dove, symbolizing peace and love.
On wings of subtlest flame, the Holy Dove
flies through the human world and offers love:
it teaches Heart and Mind
how to transcend their kind
and praise the God who lets all being move.
O God, who at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O Dduw, a ddysgaist yr adeg hon galonnau dy ffyddloniaid trwy anfon atynt oleuni dy Ysbryd Glan: dyro i ni drwy'r un Ysbryd feddu barn gywir ym mhob peth a llawenhau byth yn ei ddiddanwch sanctaidd; drwy haeddiannau Crist Iesu ein Gwaredwr, sy'n fyw ac yn teyrnasu gyda thi, yn undod yr Ysbryd Glân, yn un Duw, yn awr ac am byth. Amen.