Do you understand the significance of Pentecost? Most of us who don’t attend a liturgical church sometimes miss the significance and beauty of seasons in church life. This coming weekend, we will collectively celebrate Pentecost—a time to acknowledge the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.
While there is an entire fascinating study one can do on the liturgical calendar and how different denominations observe different traditions, there are a couple things on which almost every Christian church can agree: Organizing the year according to Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection is a helpful way to remind us what he has done, is doing, and promised to do for us. Some believers who observer the calendar find their spiritual progress closely aligns with the rhythm of this calendar.
Pentecost Is Part of the Liturgical Church Calendar
Briefly, in the Protestant vein, the liturgical calendar is organized this way:
Advent – the eager anticipation of Christ’s coming
Christmas – a time of hope and promise
Epiphany – a time to reflect on the fact that God sent his son in human form to dwell among us
Lent – a time of lament and penitence in preparation for Easter
Easter – a time to consider redemption and celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead
Pentecost – a time to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit coming to earth and the birth of the church
Ordinary Time – a time of long, numbered days leading up to advent
Pentecost Is a Jewish Holy Day
Like so many of our Christian traditions, Pentecost has its origins in Judaism. The Feast of Pentecost, or the Festival of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew, which means “weeks”), is one of the three main feasts celebrated in the Jewish year. Occurring 50 days after Passover, the feast is designed to offer God the first fruits of the new grain harvest.
According to Rev. Mark D. Roberts, Christians borrowed the word Pentecost from Greek-speaking Jews. “The English word ‘Pentecost’ is a transliteration of the Greek word pentekostos, which means ‘fifty.’ It comes from the ancient Christian expression pentekoste hemera, which means ‘fiftieth day,'” Rev. Roberts explains.