28th May 2023 is Pentecost Sunday. The ‘P’ word comes from a Jewish name for the festival of weeks which was one of three major Jewish festivals in the first testament. It is traditionally celebrated in the month of ‘Sivan’ which falls in May/June. Christians celebrate it on the fiftieth day after the resurrection.
The promised Holy Spirit’s arrival upon the disciples and the crowd of believers at Jerusalem marks a re-purposing of the Pentecost — the day of first fruits of the Spirit. It celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit on the diverse community gathered in Jerusalem, and led to everyone understanding each other’s language. It was an experience of onenness in diversity, the outbreak of the Kingdom of God beyond ethnic lines (Acts 2).
Jesus, according St. John 14:14–21, suggests that the Holy Spirit is received as a gift by those who keep his commands. This promised Spirit is a ‘paraclete’ — comforter/counsellor/advocate/guide. It is the presence of Christ, who promises he would be with us, despite him being physically away.
The Spirit takes our relationship with God to the next level by being ‘with us’ and ‘in us’, and that is what Jesus hopes for : God in Jesus, Jesus in us and us in Jesus. It is a mystical oneness — the kind of intimacy that makes you experience life and living as not separate but in one another.
The Holy Spirit does not erase difference, but abides in it, and connects the different so that a s strange but blessed oneness is experience. And this is what is called the Truth — this relationship is what is real and lasting.
The Church — the Christian community symbolising the body of Christ — needs to be the place where this is experienced, more than anything else.
At a time of deep polarisation, experiencing this deep oneness despite and because of our differences, is made possible when we allow the Holy Spirit to seep into our lives.
The Holy Spirit, as Galatians 5:22–23 says is what produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
The Holy Spirit, when upon us, allows the elderly to dream dreams and young people to see visions (Joel 2:28–32). We have much to learn from the celebration of Pentecost, much that is relevant today. Ending this note with the famous song:
“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord (2),
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored,
And they’ll know we are christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are christians by our love.”
— — -
Find this as a twitter thread here