In the liturgical year, Pentecost is the turning point on the calendar. It is a transition from the Gospels and life of Jesus to acts of the Apostles. Pentecost signifies the time when Jesus’ mission on Earth is completed and the mission of the Church (the Body of Christ) on Earth begins. Similarly, there is a transition in the lectionary reading. The calendar from Advent through Pentecost Day focuses primarily on the narrative of the incarnation and the life of Jesus, with an emphasis on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the passion of Holy Week, and Eastertide, which focuses on the significance and meaning of the resurrection.
Pentecost is the final season of the year. Names other than Pentecost include Kingdomtide, Growing Season, and Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time doesn’t mean plain or uneventful. For Christ followers, it means living life in God’s order. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to do so. The readings from Pentecost to the end of the year challenge us to live as disciples.
The dramatic story in Acts 2 recorded the coming of the Holy Spirit with the sound of a mighty rushing wind. What appeared to be divided tongues, looking like fire, came and rested on disciples’ heads. Those images are the Bishop’s mitre and the liturgical color red. Some parishes celebrate the day of Pentecost by asking worshipers to wear something red to church.
Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, is an event completely unique in Holy Scripture. The disciples spoke as the Spirit gave them utterance, but the listeners all heard the message in their own dialects and language, simultaneously! People from the many regions, where Jews had dispersed, were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks. The miracle (which seemed to occur in their ears of the listeners) was that as the disciples spoke, their words became the native language of each person present. Two responses followed: amazement and mocking.
When hearers asked, “What does this mean?” Peter averred that promises of the prophet Joel had come to pass, that is, all who call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved, and that God would pour out his Spirit on all people. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and miracle of each person hearing in their own language confirms the words of Jesus that, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NLT). After Jesus left the earth in bodily form, he sent the Holy Spirit into believers to build and extend his church over the globe.
Reflection: Pentecost tongues of fire and speaking forth the mighty works of God are the proclamation to and of the Church: our sins are purged, and the Holy Spirit is poured on all people!
*Written by Bishop Gregory Ortiz, Rector, Cathedral of Christ the King, Bishop, Diocese of the Northeast, Charismatic Episcopal Church.
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