This Sunday, the Church celebrates Pentecost. What is Pentecost? Why is it important? Simply, Pentecost is the day we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit on the early followers of Jesus. Even simpler…Pentecost is the start of the Church!
The word “Pentecost” comes from a Greek word meaning 50 and an ancient Christian phrase using this Greek word which means “Fiftieth day” originating from Greek speaking Jews in reference to the Jewish holiday, the Festival of Weeks.
From today’s text, we know that Jesus spent 40 days with his followers following his resurrection from the dead and, prior to ascending to the Father, Jesus told his followers to wait for the Father’s gift to descend on them…the Holy Spirit. On the 50th day…all of the followers were in one place in Jerusalem and this gathering became the first Christian Church. New believers were baptized…they shared their life together…they followed the teaching…they took part in the fellowship of those gathered…they broke break and they prayed. These first believers lived out their faith together and the Lord grew this Church. 3000 were added to the church following the Church’s first sermon…not a bad response to Peter’s sermon!!
What does all this mean? I think that there a great many today in our American culture who live as though the church is useful but unnecessary. This passage today tells us that while a personal relationship with God is important…it is the gathered community that is the focus of God’s mission in our world. Pentecost challenges us to look our faith journey – not just as individuals but as the gathered community – and ask ourselves just how God might think we are doing at living out his mission for his Church. So, what do you think? How are you doing? How are we doing as a gathered community?