Why do we celebrate Pentecost?
|From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD. (Genesis13:3-4)|
Our faith is not a faith of incantations, rituals and recipes - our faith is a living relationship. But just as it is healthy in relationships to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, it is helpful in our spiritual journey to celebrate significant days. Although my birthday is not really any different from any other day - it is a helpful moment for me to give thanks to God for the life He has given me and to enjoy the love and attention of my family.
Pentecost is our annual remembrance of the coming of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing magical about this time, but rather an opportunity to remember.
When we worked through the creed, we noted that the early church said very little about the Holy Spirit. There were probably two reasons for this: Firstly, the early church regularly experienced the prompting and moving of the Holy Spirit - they didn't need to write about it - they were living it. The second reason is probably best captured by Jesus words in John 3:8 "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." - The early church were still learning and discovering how God's Spirit would lead them. The whole of the book of Acts was a journey in discovering how the Spirit would work in their midst.
Since the dynamic days of the early church, we're a lot more settled. We have the completed New Testament and the Bible as a whole is finalised. We have Denominational structures and practices and years of church tradition to rely on. Where the early church was dynamic and Spirit-led, we tend to be structured and routinised. (And if we're honest, sometimes stuck.)
Remembering Pentecost is an important reminder to be a dynamic Church: aware of and open to the guidance of the Spirit.
Over the next few days we'll revise some of the most important aspects of who the Holy Spirit is and hopefully this will bring us to a place of building an altar and re-committing ourselves to a personal and intimate God.