As you have probably noticed, holidays are important in my life and in the life of my family. I’ve invested a good amount of time to find creative and memorable ways to mark these annual faith-based days on the calendar because they have roots in the Bible’s story and therefore are important to our faith today.
In the Old Testament, God gave His people seven yearly feasts. These holidays anchored human interactions with God and His people over days set aside for celebration and for worship. God’s goal for His people was concentrated, intentional time to delight in Him, to remember His love and work on their behalf, and to stoke their relational fires with Him through memorable moments away from everyday demands.
God’s original feasts punctuated ordinary life with hours of significance and meaning. And some of our Christian celebrations echo the original Jewish feasts. For example, the Jewish holiday of Passover commemorates when Moses told the captive Jews to paint lamb’s blood over their door frames so that God would pass over their homes when Egypt was struck with the tenth plague—death of their firstborn children. Today, Christians celebrate Easter, when Jesus died so that God would “pass over” our sins. In fact, it was no coincidence that the death of Christ occurred on Passover; He was the sacrificial lamb of God.
The connections of Christmas with the original feasts is slim, though it does line up in some ways with the Feast of Hannukah. But I find it odd that one of the most important Christian celebrations of the year is barely mentioned in churches today: Pentecost. This was one of the three feasts which required travel to Jerusalem annually. The celebration foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit. This holiday commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, Jesus’ disciples and to us. Acts 1:4 records:
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
The apostles waited 10 days for this promise to be fulfilled:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4
Jesus dramatically fulfilled His promise when He sent His Spirit. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Spirit comes to live within us and give us the power and guidance we need to walk with Christ. And the Spirit has been coming to indwell believers in Christ ever since. So why don’t we give thanks for the miraculous event of Pentecost?
In preparation for Pentecost this year on Sunday, May 28, here are some reasons why it is a wonder worth celebrating.
- Having the Holy Spirit is better than having the physical person of Jesus! That may sound strange to say, but Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you”(John 16:7). Jesus was confined to a body when He lived on earth. He could only be in a single place at a time. But the Spirit is in every believer in every place around the globe. Amazing!
- The Spirit will be “with us forever” (John 14:16). I am so grateful for this promise that He is always with me, whether on a flight that is disconcertingly bumpy, or when I’m feeling like “I can’t do this anymore,” or when I’m simply completing mundane, thankless tasks for the thousandth time. His ever-presence is a comfort.
- We can know His constant, gentle whisper. The Spirit continually, intimately reminds me of what Jesus taught. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”(John 14:26). He loves to remind us of what Jesus said that is exactly what we need to hear.
- Like taking a trip to a national park where park rangers provide maps and guidebooks, so the Holy Spirit will guide us into His truth (John 16:13) throughout our unique, obstacle- and adventure-laden journey of life, if we will ask.
- Though there are many more reasons why the Holy Spirit came, but one of my favorites remains this: “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). There have been many times in my life when I have not known what to pray because I was bewildered or afraid or in pain. Yet in those times the Spirit was praying for me. What a Comforter is the Spirit who was given to us, sent to us from the throne room of God!
Will you join us in celebrating this underappreciated gift from the Father? Here are three ideas you can implement with your family:
1. Create a simple obstacle course in your living room or backyard. Blindfold each child one at a time and instruct them to find their way across the room or yard by listening to your voice calling directions. The blindfolded one has to listen carefully to your voice or he will trip or bump into things. Talk about how this is like listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice.
To further illustrate this for the next person’s turn in the obstacle course have another family members call directions at the same time, which teaches a very practical lesson in learning to follow one voice as opposed to many other “voices” that might influence our lives.
2. Bedtime reading. Because most children love to delay bedtime by talking, take advantage of this by talking to them about the Holy Spirit. (Or read these in conjunction with your dinner or obstacle course.)
At the last supper, Jesus prepared His disciples for what was to come. In that conversation He made several important promises, including several about the Spirit and what He came to do: John 14:16-17; John 14:26; John 16:7, 13-15. Read these passages to your children and ask them to make a list of what Jesus promised His Spirit will do. If you have older children and teens this can become a very in-depth and beneficial discussion as you find other verses beyond these three, learning together how vital is the Holy Spirit and His gracious work in our lives.
3. Teach the concept of being filled with God’s Spirit. Read Ephesians 5:17-19 and talk together about this command from Paul to everyone who is a Christian. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Why does God tell us to do this? How does being controlled by God’s Spirit make a difference in your life, or how should it make a difference? (For more information on the Holy Spirit, read “The Wonderful News of the Spirit-filled Life,” by Bill Bright.)
At Ever Thine Home our hope is to not only elevate Easter but also to call us as women who desire to make our homes His embassy to celebrate these holy holidays on the Christian calendar with our families and friends.
We hope that adding even one of these ideas to your Pentecost Sunday will help you appreciate the wonder of God residing within each of us who believe in Him.
May you enjoy Pentecost Sunday as you celebrate the miracle of God’s continual presence with us.