In every parish that I served, I encouraged people to think of Pentecost as one of the three great holidays of the church. There is Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. They are of equal importance and should be celebrated with the same degree of serious preparation. Christmas allows us to speak of the Trinity and the uniqueness of Jesus among men. Our systematic theology goes into high gear as we try to speak about God’s mission to save all of humanity. In Easter we rediscover the passion of God and the wretchedness of humanity. Our theology goes low, as we identify with the people who stood by his cross and then carried our Lord to the grave. Easter is a story filled with transition, the greatest example being the resurrection.
In Pentecost, we realized that both Christmas and Easter occurred, not simply that individuals might be saved, but that a religious community might be formed. We push people towards the end of the second chapter of acts, when we realized that all this fire and wind resulted in the birth of the church as an organization. The spiritual birth of the church, I believe, was when Jesus gathered people on a hillside and told them that they were already blessed by God (Matthew 5:1-9). Three years later, the day of Pentecost takes this awareness that we are a blessed people, and empowers us to organize to share that blessing. On Pentecost, our theology goes wide.
- The Pentecost story begins by putting 120 people into a room built to hold 40. They were all of one accord. This doesn’t mean they were theologically unified. It means that were committed to being one community.
- The story goes on to tell of the diversity of people in Jerusalem that day. The church only grows when it honors diversity.
- The story heats up when Peter steps out on the porch and confronts the people on the street. In the Pentecost season, we beg the Holy Spirit to send the church out into our neighborhood.
These are the three points that I will be sharing with the people at Verona and Rosedale. Let us pray that they catch the great significance of Pentecost.