What is a Christian to do with Pentecost? excerpt by Dr. Gerhard Bode
Traditionally, the Church has observed this day as one of the most important festivals of the year. But unlike Christmas or Easter, Pentecost doesn’t have the cultural attachments that remind us of its significance. There are no ornamented trees, strings of lights, or wrapped presents to announce the season, no egg-filled baskets or Easter lilies to proclaim the day. Without cultural traditions behind it, we may wonder how to celebrate Pentecost. Is it really as important as the other days? Why do we observe Pentecost at all?
The Church celebrates the Festival of Pentecost as the fulfillment and conclusion of the Easter season. The name Pentecost, meaning “the fiftieth day,” originally referred to the Jewish Festival of Weeks, the time of thanksgiving for first-fruits and the ingathering of the harvest (cf. Ex. 34:22). The Christian Church retained the name to mark the completion of the 50-day period after Easter—and the first in-gathering of believers into the Church.
On Pentecost, Christians commemorate the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We recall how a humble fisherman, filled with the Spirit, boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. We give thanks that a multitude of hearers repented and believed. Three thousand people, from all over the world, were baptized and received the gift of the Spirit. Sent by God the Father, and by His Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit came to continue the Father’s work on earth.
The Spirit’s activity continues today. That’s why the Christian celebration of Pentecost is such a joyful one—and so vital for the Church to remember. Through the preaching of the Gospel and Baptism, the Holy Spirit calls and gathers believers to Christ and His Church. This gracious work is ongoing; it is not yet completed in our lives. The Spirit works among people of every nation and language—among all to whom the Church is sent to proclaim the Gospel. For this reason, Christians pray for the continued outpouring of the Spirit and for the fulfillment of His sanctifying work.