I find myself thinking about this question asked by a child, which Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen shared in her book Gender & Grace (p. 34):
My younger son asked me this past Pentecost why people don’t get as excited about this holiday as they do about Christmas and Easter. He thinks we should send up fireworks on Pentecost. (“After all, that’s when God sent fire down, isn’t it?”)
Acts 2:1-4 records:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
With the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the followers of Jesus became empowered as his witnesses, and these words of Jesus (Acts 1:8) began to be fulfilled:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
As these spirit-filled followers began to prophesy in various languages, a crowd gathered around them and marveled, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11).
Peter explained to them why this was possible (Acts 2:16-17):
“This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ’In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy…’ ”
Pentecost. God dwelling in us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Men and women gifted by God to prophesy. Women and men boldly declaring the wonders of God. When God created the church, God’s living temple, gender equality marked its beginnings.
Perhaps an annual celebration focusing on this momentous event would help to tear down the gender divide and draw us into greater unity with one another. Any ideas for a Pentecost celebration? Do you know of any churches already celebrating this?
(All Scripture verses are from the TNIV Bible.)