In recent tradition and liturgical practice, Pentecost has stood alone as a festival. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter are and always have been seen as one continuous event ending with the awesome events of the Resurrection. It is easy to see that there is no Easter without Good Friday. But to perceive the events in this way deletes the story’s impact. The events of the Passion Week (including Holy Saturday – the seventh day), along with the Resurrection, the Post Resurrection appearance, the Ascension, and Pentecost are one continuous event, and each is only fully understood and appreciated if seen together. It would be appropriate to celebrate these holy days in one weekend-long liturgy.
If we understand the connection of Pentecost to all days of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, then Pentecost is so much more than the “birthday of the Church” or even the “empowerment of the disciples” for the apostolic mission to the world.
The event of Pentecost is prophesied by John the Baptist and affirmed by Jesus, that the Father would send the promised Holy Spirit and we would be baptized (immersed) in the Holy Spirit. I have always been fascinated by Luke 24 and its connection to Acts chapters 1 and 2. Of particular fascination were verses Luke 24.49 and Acts 1.4-5, both spoken before the Ascension. For me, they raised the question of “why wait?” They were called to wait for the “promise of the Father.”
I am not going to do an exegetical work on the passages. It would end up being a book or at least a very long paper. I want to merely point out that Luke points out that there is “something” or, more importantly, “someone” that is critical to the Redemptive love story of God in Jesus. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, now immerses the disciples in His life, and He immerses Himself in their lives. The “continuation” of the mission with the Church as the Body of Christ visible on earth is fulfilled in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, who makes us “one body.” He immerses us into One Body. It is this living relationship with the Holy Spirit that makes known the love of God in our hearts. It is this love of God that I believe is the power of God.
There is far too little teaching on the person of the Holy Spirit. Far too little teaching about this person for whom “we are commanded to wait.” Far too little teaching on this baptism or immersion into His life in us and among us.
An essential part of being the Charismatic Episcopal Church is our conviction that the life of the Spirit and the manifestation of the gifts of that life are not optional but are essential to the life of a disciple of Jesus. We are all called to be baptized not only in the waters of baptism but in or with the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost. It is the Holy Spirit who will draw us into the life of Jesus and hence into the life of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy.
Being a “charismatic” and encountering the work and gifts of the Spirit (charismata) in our worship and in the daily life of the Church and individuals is not an option or a suggested addition to the Christian life but is something for which we are to wait and receive. It is part of the love of God.
I pray the Feast of the Pentecost for us will be a day of “mighty wind” and “tongues of fire.” That it will be a time when we are renewed by the giver of life, and our churches will obtain a new delight in proclaiming the Gospel. Let us prepare for Pentecost with times of prayer and asking for the outpouring. Let us take time on Pentecost and pray for each other for a refreshing and renewal in the life of the Spirit.
Under His mercy,