Pentecost was originally a Jewish feast that celebrated Moses receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. But in AD 33, something equally as miraculous occurred on this day. Just as the risen Christ has promised, the Holy Spirit descended on God’s people. The disciples saw what looked like tongues of fire on their heads and began to speak so that all could understand them regardless of their native language. The Holy Spirit came to dwell with us, and thus began the Church as we know it.
It’s a truly miraculous story! However, sometimes one of the most powerful nuances of this story is overlooked. It has to do with something described way back in the Book of Genesis: the fall of humanity, the fall of angels, and the fallen world. The Tower of Babel was a mighty structure that was toppled and God then confused the language of the people so that they could no longer understand one another. That is what a fallen world looks like, full of destruction and confusion.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled the lips of the disciples and allowed them to speak so that all could understand them. That is what a redeemed world looks like!
Just like Christ’s resurrection shows us a glimpse of what true life looks like after the Kingdom comes, the day of Pentecost shows us how humanity can interact after the Kingdom comes. Just like God, through Christ, restores our lives to wholeness; God, through the Holy Spirit, restores our communities to wholeness. That glimpse of what is to come shows us the true mission of the Church: “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (BCP, p. 855)
Pentecost reminds us of the power that God has given us through the Holy Spirit, and of the work we are meant to accomplish with that power.
As a member of Christ’s one holy, catholic and apostolic Church, the power of the Spirit is given to you so that you may go out into the world and proclaim the authority of God the Father, the love of Jesus Christ, and the unity of the Holy Spirit.
The Rev. Christopher Zeke Coughlin