Christmas is when the church marks the birth of Jesus. Easter is when the church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Everything, we, as Christians, believe about the divine nature of Jesus is imbedded within those two events — birth and resurrection, Christmas and Easter.
However, there is a third observance, a third sacred event — that is just as central to our understanding of what it means to be a Chris?an and what it means to be part of the life of the church.
That third event is Pentecost, and remarkably, many Christians do not observe that day at all. Pentecost shifts the focus of the Christian community away from the singular focus on the life of Jesus on to a clearer focus of the ministry of the church in the world. The word Pentecost literally means “50th” or “50th day.”
Which takes us to the event that occurred 50 days after the ascension of Jesus. The term originated with ancient Judaism’s celebration of the first harvest of the agricultural year. Pentecost was the time when they gave thanks to God for what the land had produced and for what their labour in the fields had yielded.
The observance of Pentecost for the Jews occurred seven weeks after the observance of Passover, and involved Jewish men gathering in the Temple in Jerusalem to mark that agricultural cycle. Pentecost went by various names in the Bible. It is called “The Feast of Weeks” in Exodus 34:22 and in Deuteronomy 16:10. It is called “The Feast of Harvest” in Exodus 23:16. It is called “The Day of First Fruits” in Numbers 28:26.