Welcome to the May 2004 On-Line Edition of

St George's News

Waterlooville's Parish Magazine


Pentecost is the great festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means ”fiftieth day" and is celebrated fifty days after Easter.

Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus' mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day of Passover. While they were indoors praying, a violent wind came rushing through the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads. This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the Prophet Joel (see Joel 2:28-29). The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ. They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival. Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigour, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire. This created a sensation. The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus' death and resurrection. We are told that about three thousand converts were baptised that day. (Acts 2:1-41).

Red is the liturgical colour for this day. Red recalls the tongues of flame in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost. The colour red also reminds us of the blood of the martyrs. These are the believers of every generation who by the power of the Holy Spirit hold firm to the faith even at the cost of their lives.

A tradition of some churches in ancient times was to baptise adult converts to the faith on Pentecost. The newly baptised catechumens would wear white robes on that day, so Pentecost was often called "Whitsunday" or "White Sunday" after these white baptismal garments. Many Christian calendars, liturgies, and hymnals still use this term.

Because Pentecost is the day that God poured out His Holy Spirit on Christ's disciples, the Season after Pentecost, the longest of the liturgical year, focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and mission of the church. Through the gift of faith that comes only from the Holy Spirit, Christians are able to believe in Christ as Lord and proclaim Him in their daily lives by service to others. The Season after Pentecost (which lasts from Trinity Sunday until the first Sunday of Advent) is a time to grow in the faith and to focus on Christian living, evangelism, stewardship, and service. The liturgical colour of this season is green, the colour of growth and life.

There are three major festivals commemorated in the Christian calendar. The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well known to both believers and non-believers. But it's possible that even liturgical Christians may not be as familiar with the third, the festival of Pentecost. God the Father's wonderful Christmas gift of His one and only Son, and Christ's Easter triumph over the power of sin, death, and the devil would mean nothing to us if the Holy Spirit did not give us faith. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to believe and trust in Christ as our Saviour. This precious gift of saving faith is the reason Pentecost is the third major festival of the church and why we celebrate it with so much joy and thanksgiving.

 taken from material on the Internet.


Return to the May 2004 Features page

return to Home page and main index

page last updated 10 May 2004