Friday, May 21, 2010

More on Pentecost

I just learned this about Pentecost - and its really cool.

Pentecost is the Greek for the Jewish holiday Shavuot, which both celebrated the Spring grain harvest and celebrated the giving of the law to Moses by God.

Some parallels which suggests to me that God knows his Jewish holidays pretty well:

Bush that burned but was not consumed -> tongues of fire that didn't burn anything.

God gives Moses the law -> the Holy Spirit enables interpretation and understanding of scripture.

The law created and guided the Jewish people -> the Holy Spirit creates and guides the church.

The law was given on Mount Sinai, the holiest of ground -> the Holy Spirit infuses sacredness to whatever it touches.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Pentecost

A long time member of our church confessed the other day that she didn't really understand Pentecost. As Pentecost is not celebrated outside of the church - we don't give Pentecost cards, or get days off from work or school - this is not surprising. Here is a primer for her and others who might be wondering.

Pentecost literally means "fiftieth" and one of the three major feast days in ancient Judaism marking the fiftieth day following Passover. In Acts chapter 2, we learn that the disciples were all gathered together on that day when a "sound like the rush of a violent wind" filled the house and "tongues as of fire rested on each of them. All were filled with the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit empowers the disciples, who until then had been passive to say the least, to rush out into the crowded city and talk about Jesus. Miraculously, when they talk, everyone can understand regardless of their native language. Peter preaches what is perhaps the greatest sermon ever and over 1,000 people are converted.

Christians consider Pentecost to be the birthday of the church and along with Easter and Christmas is one of the most important liturgical holidays.

In some Christian traditions, churches are decorated in red for Pentecost. Somebody back in the Middle Ages decided that the color red symbolized the Holy Spirit, and that tradition has been passed down through the churches ever since.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Today (Thursday, May 6th) is the 49th annual National Day of Prayer.

A prayer for our nation taken from the Presidential Proclamation marking today as the National Day of Prayer:

On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation. Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation. Let us ask for wisdom, compassion, and discernment of justice as we address the great challenges of our time.

Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those suffering from natural disasters in Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere, and the people from those countries and from around the world who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to render aid. Let us pray for the families of the West Virginia miners, and the people of Poland who so recently and unexpectedly lost many of their beloved leaders. Let us pray for the safety and success of those who have left home to serve in our Armed Forces, putting their lives at risk in order to make the world a safer place. As we remember them, let us not forget their families and the substantial sacrifices that they make every day. Let us remember the unsung heroes who struggle to build their communities, raise their families, and help their neighbors, for they are the wellspring of our greatness. Finally, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those people everywhere who join us in the aspiration for a world that is just, peaceful, free, and respectful of the dignity of every human being.

Read the entire Proclamation.

National Day of Prayer web site