Did you know it’s Pentecost this weekend? In the Presbyterian tradition it almost seems that Pentecost is the forgotten cousin of the major days. You know the one that lives up in the hills in a small house in the middle of nowhere and only when Christmas and Easter are together having fun at the party does someone say, “Oh where’s Pentecost?” And another cousin says, “We forgot it again!! Oh well, next year.”
And yet, in terms of actual importance to us, as Christians, it’s arguable the second most important day after Easter. It marks the birth of the Church and, like all the major days, has some amazing miracles and stories surrounding it. Just read Acts chapter 2 to get an idea of what happened. (Press here to read it.)
This year, with working very differently due to the virus, I’ve had time to reflect on the importance of Pentecost and why we are prone to forget it.
One of the main reasons we forget it, I think, is that it’s boring compared to its brighter, more jazzy cousins. It’s a bit drab and we don’t get anything from it. There are no presents or chocolate eggs, no big feasts or huge parties. Pentecost hasn’t been hijacked by mainstream society and had massive amounts of commercialisation thrown at it. It’s still the poor cousin living in the sticks and only remember by some crazy old Aunts like the Anglicans. And so we have no real reason to remember it. We remember Christmas because we get presents and a few days off; we remember Easter because we get chocolate eggs and a few days off; we forget Pentecost because we don’t get anything special and no days off!! It’s a shame really, a few days off are always good.
It wasn’t always like that. Pentecost used to live in a really nice house over the road from its cousins, Christmas and Easter. It used to come to all the parties and it even threw a huge one once a year where everyone was invited. I’ve seen pictures of Pentecost events with 1000’s of people at them.
There used to be a day off for Whitsun but it seems to have been forgotten. There always used to be big parades and churches would walk together around the cities and towns to celebrate their unity and the birth of the Church. We’ve even got a banner here at the Melbourne Welsh Church that the Sunday School used during those parades; but Whitsun became less popular and its parties grew smaller. Eventually only a few people came and so Pentecost moved out to the country and was, like other long lost cousins, forgotten and only remembered by some eccentric people.
And yet it should be a really important day, it should be up there with it’s better known relations, Christmas and Easter. It marks a hugely important day in the history of the Church – the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church of Christ.
There should be parties and cakes and songs and dancing and streamers and Holy Ghost shaped balloons – it’s that important, it’s that special. So this Sunday, at church and at coffee chat, we are remembering Pentecost. We WILL have cake and songs, we’ll invite Pentecost down from its little house out there is the back of beyond and we’ll have a church party and remember all the good things about the day.
So happy Pentecost everyone and happy birthday to the Church throughout the world!!!