What is your favorite faith holiday?
Families plan big get togethers for Christmas. We decorate our homes – inside and out. We bake up a storm – sharing all the caloric goodies with everyone the whole month of December. We hunt for just the right gift to bring a smile to our loved ones. We hold candles and sing hymns that stir our hearts in holiness on Christmas eve.
Families plan big get togethers for Easter, too. We bake the ham. Put bunnies on the table. Hide eggs in the backyard. Gorge ourselves on Cadberry eggs and jellybeans. The old wooden cross and a crown of thorns brings tears to our eyes. We vow to love more like Jesus and to live as he did.
What about Pentecost? My latest pet peeve is that as Christians we go all out to celebrate Christmas and Easter, but what about this significant holiday in our faith? I think it is time for Pentecost to have its due!
Christmas – God came down to us.
Easter – Jesus rose, defeating sin and death.
Pentecost – the Sprit arrived for all of us, all the time.
The Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Time to celebrate!
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the early Christians. It marks the birth of the Christian church and means “fiftieth day,” as it is celebrated fifty days after Easter.
Red is the liturgical color for this day. Red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples.
A tradition of some churches in ancient times was to baptize adult converts to the faith on this day. The newly baptized catechumens would wear white robes on that day, so it was often called “Whitsunday” or “White Sunday” after these white baptismal garments.
On the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week, the Jews celebrated a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest. It was known by different names:
Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10)
Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16)
Day of First fruits (Num. 28:26)
The “Feast of Weeks” was the second-most important festival for the Jews. (The most important was Passover.) This explains why so many people from all over the Roman Empire were in Jerusalem on the day when the Holy Spirit arrived. (see Acts 2)
How will you celebrate Pentecost?
I helped to decorate our sanctuary this week for the big day. I love the felt tongues of fire on the Christ candle and the baptismal font.
We have a fan with red, orange, and yellow streamers ready to turn on during the children’s sermon. I will share with story of Pentecost with them and use the example of we can feel the wind of the fan, but can’t see it. That is a great metaphor for the Holy Spirit.
The kids will also receive cupcakes with flames of fire on the icing. After all, it is the birthday of the church! You have to have cake, right?
Since tongues of fire appeared that day, some churches hold chili cook-offs after church. Wouldn’t that be fun? I plan to serve chili at our house on Pentecost this year.
I had so much fun compiling ideas for this special day, I put them together on a Pentecost Celebration Ideas Guide. You can download it here for free. I even included the recipe for the cupcakes with the flames of fire, too.
My goal? Celebrate Pentecost in ways like we honor the other significant Christian dates. We are starting to give this event more recognition at church, now I want to bring it home more. I’m visualizing red candles and roses for the Pentecost centerpiece on my dining room table. Maybe create a red wreath with flowing red ribbons for the front door.
Next year, let’s decorate our homes and host a family get together to welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives that day and always. Join me?
How do you celebrate Pentecost?