Of all the festivals of the year, Pentecost seems to be the most confusing. In the Old Testament, Pentecost refers to Shavuot, a festival which occurs fifty days after the Passover. In the New Testament, it continues to refer to this Jewish festival. But by the second century the word Pentecost (which means ‘fifty’) was used by Christians to designate the Great Fifty Days which begins with Easter. Then by the fourth century Christians began using the word Pentecost for the last Sunday of this fifty day period.
Today, Pentecost refers to the time between the Great Fifty Days after Easter to the season of Advent, which lasts through most of the church year. Sometimes the Season of Pentecost is called “Ordinary Time”. But rather than meaning “common” or “mundane”, this term comes from the word “ordinal”, which simply means counted time (1st Sunday after Pentecost, etc…).
Confused? Lost? Could care less? Whatever we want to call this season, whether it be Pentecost or Ordinary, we must remember that this is a time dedicated to the growth of the church (as indicated by its green color), it is the time of the Spirit when the gifts of the Spirit are honed and put into use.
Pentecost is by no means ordinary – really it’s extraordinary! Pentecost is a time to realize the many gifts we have and use them for mission and ministry. Pentecost is a time to celebrate the unleashing of the Holy Spirit into the world. It’s a time to grow, to renew, and to set our hearts on fire with the love of Christ.
So throughout this long season of the church year, let’s remember how God continues to work in our ordinary lives and our ordinary world. Let’s remember how God transforms us into extraordinary disciples who, by the work of the Holy Spirit, will turn our communities and neighborhoods upside down with the good news of Jesus.
Yours in Christ,