The Forgotten Holiday

23 05 2010

The Forgotten Holiday

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?  Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?   If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

-Luke 11:10-13

We think of a “holiday” as a time when we get out of work or school.  But originally it was pronounced “Holy Day” because a sacred biblical event was being remembered and celebrated.  Christmas is usually the first one to come to mind when thinking about “holidays.”  Maybe also Thanksgiving and possibly Easter.  But Pentecost?!

Sure Pentecost is cool and all—I mean all those special effects:  the sound of a rushing wind, tongues of fire resting on peoples’ heads, others speaking languages they have never learned and maybe never even heard.  Great stuff!  Nevertheless, the Feast of Pentecost is largely ignored or simply unknown in too many Evangelical congregations.

In a certain way maybe this is proper.  The Holy Spirit, as the third member of the Trinity, seems to always be involved in what God is doing (hovering over the waters at creation, inspiring prophets, bringing about the Incarnation, etc.) but also receiving little attention or credit.  The Father is the Almighty God of the universe, the Son is the Redeemer of mankind, and the Spirit is. . . well, we are never quite sure are we?!  I suspect the Spirit prefers this lack of notoriety.  His mission is to glorify the Son and the Father.  So maybe He doesn’t mind his holiday being ignored.  But I’m really just speculating now.

We do know from Scripture that the Spirit is always hard at work.  The outpouring at Pentecost seems to bring His work, His composition, to a mighty crescendo.  As was mentioned in my church today, Pentecost brings to fruition the work begun in Advent when we were reminded that it was the Holy Spirit who fell upon Mary and enable the conception of Jesus Christ.  And now in Pentecost we remember (we re-live) the truth that the Spirit also empowered the conception and birth of the Church.  As the Church proclaims in her liturgy, the Spirit is the “lord and giver of life.”  Even life eternal!

Because of the Spirit, Jesus and His Kingdom dwell in us.  We truly have some of heaven inside of us, thanks to the Spirit.  We can know God’s love, power, truth and joy because the Spirit is in us.

At the conclusion of our church service today, the pastors of the church invited any who would come to step forward and receive anointing with oil and prayers for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, mind, spirit and body.  I received that anointing.  I heard no wind.  Saw and felt no fire.  I did not speak in another language.  But the pastor laid his hand upon my head, and the heads of my children.  And there is no doubt — the Spirit is upon me and in me.  I pray that I, my family, and all of you may earnestly walk with Him.  And may He guide and fill you this day and every day of your lives.  Amen!

I end by offering a Charles Wesley hymn on this day of the Feast of Pentecost:

Come, Holy Spirit, raise our songs To reach the wonders of that day, When, with thy fiery cloven tongues Thou didst such glorious scenes display

Lord, we believe to us and ours, The apostolic promise given; We wait the pentecostal powers, The holy Ghost sent down from heaven.

Assembled here with one accord, Calmly we wait the promised grace, The purchase of our dying Lord; Come, Holy Ghost, and fill the place.

If every one that asks, may find, If still thou dost on sinners fall, Come as a mighty rushing wind; Great grace be now upon us all.

O leave us not to mourn below, Or long for thy return to pine;Now, Lord, the Comforter bestow, And fix in us the Guest divine.

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