by Rev. Dr. Dale Azevedo,  Sr. Minister

Stories have abounded for ages (Cinderella, anyone?) about children who have been neglected by their stepparents. Fortunately, recent research at East Carolina University (ECU) has shown that this fairy-tale trope isn’t particularly accurate.1 Sadly though, ECU’s research comes a little too late for poor old Pentecost.

You’ve heard of Pentecost, haven’t you? The oft-neglected stepsibling of Christmas and Easter? You wouldn’t know it by strolling through the department store aisles or listening to the radio or television, but Pentecost, along with Christmas and Easter, is one of the three holiest seasons in the Christian year. You’d never imagine going a year without Christmas, would you? Or skipping the celebration of Easter? But when was the last time you sent someone a Pentecost card? Or hid a basket of gifts for the kids on Pentecost? Not only that, but Christmas gets 12 DAYS to celebrate it. And Easter gets 7 WEEKS! But poor old Pentecost only gets one day, one day that we often forget because this time of year is just too busy.

Do you even know when Pentecost is celebrated this year? Or what it commemorates?

Sadly, while Christmas and Easter get to go to the “Hallmark” ball, shunned little Pentecost gets stuck sitting at home cleaning out the fireplace.

So, this year we are throwing a ball just for Pentecost!

This year, Pentecost falls on Sunday, May 19. Yes, that’s THIS Sunday! And, of course, we have other plans set for worship. This Sunday is Jubilation Sunday, the celebration of the end of our church school year. It is a big day for our church and a chance to celebrate our children, their growing faith, their leadership, and all the hard work of our church school volunteers and staff. So, once again, Pentecost was relegated and set aside on a busy day.

That’s why I have decided to declare Sunday, May 26, as Pentecost: Part Deux! On that Sunday, we are going to give Pentecost all the accolades and appreciation it is due. All of our hymns…Pentecost. All of our prayers…Pentecost. All of our readings…Pentecost. And our sermon…you guessed it…Pentecost!

So, to get ready to show Pentecost the appreciation it deserves, I’m going to share with you a little bit about this oft-neglected beauty.

1. 50th Day – That what Pentecost means. It means the 50th day following Passover. It comes from the Jewish tradition of the Feast of Weeks (i.e. a week of weeks, or 49 days, following Passover). The end of the Feast of weeks was called Pentecost. As you see below, something special happened on the 50th day after Passover on the year Jesus was killed.

2. Red – The liturgical color of Pentecost is Red. It is relatively unique for this day. Some traditions will also use red on Palm Sunday and others on Good Friday, but all churches that follow the liturgical calendar use red on Pentecost. All other high holy days use white. While some others seasons commonly use green purple or blue, red is held back for Pentecost (except as noted above). Other symbols used on Pentecost are a flame or a dove. Both symbolize the Holy Spirit (see below!).

3. Holy Spirit – Pentecost is a celebration of the Holy Spirit. It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit descended upon, and overwhelmed, the disciples and everyone else who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks in the year of Jesus death. You will hear this story when you come to church on May 26th!

4. Happy Birthday – Pentecost is treated as the birthday of the church. It was the giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples and followers of Jesus that we recognize as the beginning of the church. This is when the mantle of sharing the faith passed from Jesus to his followers.

So, there you have it. Pentecost in a nutshell. Now you can come to church on May 26th, ready to party and let Pentecost know how beloved it is!

See you then!