Pentecost is originally a Jewish festival that comes fifty days after Passover and commemorates when the God gave the law to Moses at Sinai (think of Exodus 20:1-21). The original name in Greek just means "fiftieth."
Of course, it's significant for us as Christians for another reason. It was at Pentecost that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in a rush of wind and in divided tongues of fire (Acts 2:2-4). That is why one traditional phrase that the Church has used on this day is "Veni, Sancte Spiritus--Come, Holy Spirit!" Filled with the Spirit, the apostles were able to speak to a crowd of people from all different places speaking all different languages who had gathered for the festival. If you've ever labored through trying to take a foreign language in school or even through Rosetta Stone, you have to be jealous!
This promised sending of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), which we heard about on both Ascension Day and Easter 7 (last Sunday), allows the Holy Spirit to continue the hard work of building the Church after Jesus is in heaven. That's why you will often hear Pentecost called "the birthday of the Church."
A Pentecost "birthday card" to the Church (From: 2 x 2: The Church without a Building)
Flash forward: For us as Christians today, we receive the Holy Spirit in our baptisms. Because of that, Pentecost is seen as an especially appropriate time to give thanks to God for the gift of baptism. Often, the rite of confirmation, which reaffirms the baptismal promises, will take place on Pentecost.
This Sunday, we'll get a special chance to celebrate the birthday of the Church, the coming of the Spirit to the apostles, and the coming of the Spirit to us in our baptisms. How? Well, of course we'll have hymns about the Holy Spirit, of course we'll have Holy Communion, and of course Pr. Laura will preach a great sermon, but another way to celebrate is to wear red. Red in the Church is always associated with the Holy Spirit.* It reminds us of the tongues of fire that descended on the apostles, as well as the fire of God's Word (think Jeremiah 23:29 or even Luke 12:49).
*For instance, when we use red on Reformation Day, we are remembering how the Spirit breathed new life into the Church during the Reformation.
So what is it? The Day of Pentecost! When/where is it? 11am this Sunday, June 8 here at Bethany! Celebrate the Holy Spirit! Celebrate the Church! Celebrate your baptism! Join us for Pentecost!