How Shall You Live This Season?
The month of May has within it three significant liturgical feasts or celebrations – The Ascension of the Lord (May 10), The Day of Pentecost (May 20), and Trinity Sunday (May 27). While we often think of Easter as being a single day, liturgically, it is actually an entire season, which this year ends on Sunday, May 13. We are invited to remember that Jesus, following his resurrection, spent another 40 days before his ascension. We can only imagine what it must have been like for Peter and Mary and the others to continue to be in Christ’s presence following his resurrection!
And yet, in some ways Christianity didn’t start with Jesus’ birth, or his death, or even his ascension. It started with Pentecost — the day the “Holy Spirit” entered a room holding Jesus’ apostles and fell upon them, filling them. This event is what makes the church the church. But I must wonder what it was like for Jesus’ followers for the ten days between these two events. Did they feel abandoned? Were they waiting anxiously for what would happen next? What do you think? How would you have lived out those ten days?
On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they were empowered to preach to people from every nation who had come to Jerusalem for the feast. The Acts of the Apostles records that about 3,000 people were added to their number that day.
Pentecost, which means “fiftieth day,” was the Feast of Weeks celebrated by the Jewish people at the end of the grain harvest. Over time, the Feast of Weeks came to be associated with the giving of the Torah to Moses. The Jews saw this event as the founding of the Jewish nation, and early believers were quick to note a parallel with the founding of the Christian church.
The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday, when we rejoice in the mystery that God is triune (three-in-one) — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the beginning of the longest season of the church year. It lasts until Christ the King Sunday, which is right before the first Sunday in Advent.
In some traditions, the whole season is called Pentecost, in others it is simply referred to as “ordinary time.” It is interesting that our Presbyterian Church (USA) official program calendar uses both designations. Thus June 3 is both the “2nd Sunday after Pentecost” and the “9th Sunday in Ordinary Time.”
We are not unlike those first disciples who lived through those ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the coming gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We live in the time between the gift of the Spirit, and Christ’s coming again. It’s been a bit longer than ten days, more like 2,000 years and counting.
I believe we have a choice about how we shall live in this time. We can either treat it as “ordinary time” or we can live these days as days of Pentecost – Spirit filled days, where God is still revealing God’s very self to us through the work of God’s Holy Spirit. How shall you choose to live this season?
In the Spirit,