Easter for Christians is not just one day, but rather a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).
Easter is also more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season for new converts to learn about the faith and prepare for baptism on Easter Sunday. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of new Christians.
Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. It’s the season when we remember our baptisms and how through this sacrament we are, according to the liturgy, “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” As “Easter people,” we also celebrate and ponder the birth of the Church and gifts of the Spirit (Pentecost), and how we are to live as faithful disciples of Christ.
Pentecost is a Christian holy day that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit 40 days after Easter. Some Christian denominations consider it the birthday of the Christian church and celebrate it as such.
Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish holiday held 50 days after Passover. One of three major feasts during the Jewish year, it celebrated Thanksgiving for harvested crops. However, Pentecost for Christians means something far different.
Before Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come after him:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16–18
And 40 days after Jesus was resurrected (10 days after he ascended into heaven), that promise was fulfilled when Peter and the early Church were in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
Today, Sunday, June 4th, WEAR RED! It’s Pentecost Sunday! Pentecost is the day on which the Christian church commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and others assembled in Jerusalem. It marks the beginning of the Christian church and the proclamation of its message throughout the world and is often referred to as the birthday of the church.
Please join us at our 8:15, 9:30 and 11:00 am worship services. Pastor Dan will be preaching at all 3 services on “Get in the Flow” (John 7:37-39)
Sunday is also Confirmation Sunday! At the 11:00 service, our 2017 Confirmation Class will profess their faith and become official members of our Church! Let’s celebrate together as a church family this important day in the lives of these teens and the plan God has for their lives.
From a historical perspective, Christianity didn’t start with Jesus’ birth, his death or even his storied ascension to heaven. It started with Pentecost — the day the “Holy Spirit” entered a room holding Jesus’ apostles and entered each of them, an event which — as my minister uncle tells me — “makes the church the church.”
Although Pentecost is chock full of religious significance, it is a holiday not widely celebrated. Sort of the opposite of Hanukkah, which is widely celebrated but not religiously important. My uncle says Pentecost is a bigger deal in liturgical churches, which follow a formal, standardized order of events (like Catholics). “Non-liturgical” refers to churches whose services are unscripted (like Baptists).
Back Story: At his Last Supper, Jesus legendarily instructed his 12 disciples to go out into the world to minister and heal the sick on their own. It was at that point that they became “apostles.” Fifty days after Jesus’ death, as the story goes, the Holy Spirit (part of the Holy Trinitity — God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ) descended onto the apostles, making them speak in foreign tongues. This “Pentecostal” experience allowed the apostles direct communication with God, which signaled a major shift in the religious landscape and laid the foundation for what would become Christianity. You’ll notice that the disciples are always depicted in artwork as regular-looking men while the apostles are depicted with halos around their heads. (Several other apostles came later — namely the famous Paul who is credited with writing much of the New Testament.)
Although all the original 12 apostles are important, some get top billing. Here’s why:
Peter (also called Simon Peter) established the first church in Antioch and is regarded as the founding pope of the Catholic church. Instrumental in the spread of early Christianity, Peter was said to have walked on water, witnessed the “Transfiguration of Jesus” and denied Jesus (for which he repented and was forgiven.) The Gospel of Mark is ascribed to Peter, as Mark was Peter’s disciple and interpreter.
John also is said to have witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus and went on to pen the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John and Book of Revelation. He died at age 94, having outlived the other apostles — all of whom, according to legend/history/whatever, were martyred. John is often described as “Jesus’ favorite” and depicted as the disciple sitting to Jesus’ right at the Last Supper.
Thomas (“Doubting Thomas”) is best known for questioning Jesus’ resurrection when first told of it. According to the Bible, Thomas saw Jesus himself several days later and proclaimed “My Lord and my God,” to which Jesus famously responded: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:28.)