Most readers I would guess think all birthdays should be remembered. I especially think that would be true regarding the birth of a child. But the birthday I have in mind in this post is not the birth of a child, but rather the birth of the Church. This coming Sunday, May 31, is Pentecost Sunday and is the day many Christians acknowledge and celebrate the beginning of the Church.
Pentecost, also called the Feast of Weeks, is one of three main festivals Jewish people celebrated and still celebrate. Another of the three main festivals is Passover. It was during Passover that Jesus ate his final meal, was arrested, tried, and crucified. He rose from the dead on Sunday, what we call Easter, and appeared to his disciples for 40 days after which he returned to heaven. Pentecost Sunday came 10 days after Jesus’ ascension and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the launching of the Church.
The account of the birth of the Church is recorded in Acts 2 and I encourage you to read the account. What should we remember as we focus on the birthday of the Church?
Both the Old Testament, and Jesus in his teaching during his ministry, looked forward to the founding of the Church. In response to Peter’s declaration that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus promised “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:13-20).
Jesus also informed them of the coming outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In his last teaching session with his apostles before he was arrested Jesus told them about the coming of Spirit (John 14-16). And just before he ascended he told them in Acts 1:8, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The Apostle Peter preached the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost and early on in his proclamation quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel about what God foretold would happen: “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (Joel 2:27 and 28).
We should remember that the Church was God’s idea and that Jesus is the builder and Lord of it. We should also remind ourselves that he is still building his church today. What Peter proclaimed then is still true today: Jesus died on the cross and was raised on the third day. To become a part of the Church sinners are called to repent and be baptized; and when that happens Christians receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We should remember that Jesus is still building his Church and that the Holy Spirit is crucial in the life and ministry of the Church. We should remember that the Church is not perfect nor are any of her members. However, we should remember that her founder and builder, Jesus, is. Happy birthday Church!
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photo credit: kmiller799 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7936555@N07/3631479810″>My first fondant covered cake</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>