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Pentecost

THE MEANING OF PENTECOST

Pentecost, the festival when Christians celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, falls on the Sunday 50 days after Easter. (Pentecost means 'The fiftieth day'.) Pentecost is regarded as the birthday of the Christian Church, and the start of the Church's mission in the world.



The story of Pentecost is told in Acts 2:

"When the day of Pentecost had come, [the disciples] were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came  together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

Following the above events, the Apostle Peter began to address the gathering crowds and the Book of Acts tells us that as a result, at that time, about three thousand people became converts to the Christian faith.

From this time, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church began to grow, at first amongst the Jewish people, and then amongst the Gentiles. Saint Paul, a strict Jew, was converted, and then travelled throughout much of the Mediterranean world, establishing congregations in many cities in
the Roman Empire. Paul was a great teacher of the faith, and in his Letters (the Epistles in the New Testament) he has much to say about the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in the life of the individual Christian. Christians believe that the Spirit continues to guide and direct the Church, and leads new
people to faith in Christ. The Church teaches that God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to new Christians in baptism, and that this gift is strengthened in the sacrament of confirmation.


In Galatians 5 Paul writes of the fruit of the Spirit which the Church and Christians will bear in their lives, if they – we - allow the Spirit to work within: 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control; no law can touch such things as these.' Indeed! Would that these fruit were to be seen more widely in our Church and world today!

According to a practice of ancient origin, the Day of Pentecost is also known as "Whitsunday," a name that is derived from the white garments worn by those seeking baptism. The Christian Pentecost is also linked to an Old Testament Pentecost: the Ten Commandments were given to Moses 50 days after the first Passover, which marked the freedom of the Hebrews from their bondage in Egypt; Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem at Passover time.


A Prayer for Pentecost

Father, at this time of Pentecost, help us to remember our calling to be the Church.

As the first Disciples were filled with courage when they received the Holy Spirit;

Send your Spirit upon us too, that we may be filled with the same courage to declare our faith in Jesus Christ.

May your Spirit rest in our hearts and fill us all with the flame of your eternal love.

May it help to dispel all divisions and factions, so that our world may be healed and that we may all learn to live together in the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen

Baptism and Confirmation

If you would like to know more about Baptism and Confirmation, please contact either Fr Tim, or the Churchwardens.