And day by day the LORD added to their number those who were being saved.
Pentecost is a unique day in the life of the Church. In the Hebrew scriptures, three names were used to describe this holy day. The most common designation was Hag Hashavuot which means “the Feast of Weeks.” Sometimes this was shortened to Shavuot which simply means “weeks.” And the third designation was Hag Hakatzir or “the Feast of Harvest” to mark the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. This festival was held 50 days or seven weeks after the Festival of First Fruits which was held on the second day of Passover and celebrated the barley harvest.
On this day two thousand years ago, people of faith gathered in Jerusalem to rejoice in the LORD, to offer freewill offerings, and to remember that the LORD had freed them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. On this day two thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit rained down from heaven, in-filled and empowered the disciples to declare praises to God in various languages, and unleashed Peter to powerfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. And on this day two thousand years ago, some three thousand people came to faith in Jesus Christ, and the Christian Church was born. In the days after Pentecost, scripture reminds us that “day by day the LORD added to their number those who were being saved.”
For this reason, Pentecost which literally means fiftieth (day), is a special day in the life of the Church, an important day in the liturgical calendar. We celebrate the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on all believers. And we celebrate the diversity of voices once silenced, freed to worship God in their own language.
Pentecost is not on a specific date in the Roman calendar. It always follows seven weeks after Resurrection Sunday (Easter). This year, Easter was later in the calendar, so Pentecost will be later, as well. We celebrate on June 5th this year. That makes it a Family First Sunday. That means we will also be celebrating the LORD’s Supper as part of our worship, as well as June birthdays and anniversaries.
In recent years, we’ve made Pentecost an extra special day in which we celebrate our diversity. As the Spirit inspired the disciples to speak in different languages, we celebrate various languages in our fellowship and our community. We adorn our sanctuary with flags representing the different countries of origin within our fellowship. We hear different languages in the worship service. And we sing in English and Spanish.
Following the worship service, we eat! There will be a potluck in McFarland Hall immediately after the worship service. We ask all participants to bring their favorite ethnic food to share. Honestly, we’re not quite sure what we’re talking about when we say “ethnic” food. Truth be told: all food is ethnic. So, we leave the interpretation of that term to you. 🙂
One way in which this year will be different is that we’ll be welcoming new members into the life of the church. It looks like we’ll have ten new members joining the church on Pentecost Sunday. Two were born in Mexico, one in Colombia, one in Nicaragua, three in Nigeria, Africa and three in the United States. Ages range from teenagers to octogenarians. When we say we’re seeking to be intentionally intercultural and intergenerational, we can point to the new member class of 2022 and say we’re doing a pretty darned good job of it!
On a side note of interest, two of the new members who were born in the United States were born in Downey, CA. What are the odds?!? And although she’s a member under care of New Hope Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, Donnette Alexander-Jeffers attended the classes and feels a deeper connection to our church family.
And if that’s not enough to get you excited about the Family First Sunday on June 5th, we’ll also be introducing our summer seminary intern: Rachel Crawford [see her bio in this newsletter]. I’m excited to have Rachel joining our staff this summer. She’ll be plugging in to all areas of ministry. Please welcome her and get to know her and encourage her in any way that you can.
We have lots of other fun things coming up this summer. But at this point, I’ll leave you thinking about Pentecost Sunday on June 5th. Please bring your favorite ethnic dish to share. If you feel so led, feel free to wear red (the liturgical color symbolizing the fire of the Holy Spirit). It should be an awesome first Sunday, an awesome month, and an awesome summer! I look forward to sharing it with you!
I remain yours in Christ’s Love and Service,