This coming Sunday many churches will be celebrating the Day of Pentecost as reported in the Christian New Testament in Acts 2:1-21. On this day, originally a Jewish holiday celebrating harvest time, the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised, came to his disciples in the Upper Room as they were together waiting for that promise to be fulfilled.
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
(Acts 2:1-21, NIV)
We read in the Acts passage about the sound like the rush of a violent wind, what appeared like tongues of fire resting on each of them, and their preaching being understood by people from all over the known world. Amazing! But even more miraculous was what is found in the simple words, “and they began to speak.”
The disciples had essentially been hiding out since Jesus’ crucifixion, afraid that they may be next. Even when Jesus was alive, their message often didn’t match their actions as they lived in fear, confusion and doubt. But now, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke with confidence and assurance that the crucified and risen Jesus was not just a good man or even a prophet, but was God became flesh to be the Savior of the World.
Throughout the remainder of the Christian Bible, the Holy Spirit’s acts through the apostles of Jesus and the Church as a whole form a major part of world history. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christians took the good news of Jesus Christ as far as the Roman roads would take them and the Church continued to grow. More than that, the Holy Spirit infused believers with a love greater than any other, which moved them to serve and give to others in need and to live in a way that encouraged peace and acceptance.
Today, more than ever, the world needs the love that the Holy Spirit provides. We need to better care for each other and be more accepting of those not like us. This Pentecost Sunday would be a great time to begin a life more full of love for God and others. The Holy Spirit will help you, just ask. Others will follow your example, just love. Recipients of your love will thank you, just care!