Today is usually recognised as being the birthday of the Church. Pentecost Sunday is celebrated on the 50th day, the seventh Sunday, from Easter Sunday. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Jewish festival of the Feast of Weeks.
It is the day when the apostles came out of their locked room and began to preach and speak with those who had gathered in Jerusalem at that time. The church was born, and the Spirit of God continues to spread and empower Christ followers all over the world.
Throughout the year we have certain colours that are associated with certain times in the year. Purple for Advent or Lent, we’ve just finished the time of Easter, which is symbolised by the colour white, and after today we move into the time of Pentecost whose colour is green. But today, today we are red! Red for the coming of the Spirit, the tongues of fire that descended upon the apostles empowering them to speak up and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Whilst we will get an idea of what that day may have sounded like as we read Acts 2:1-4 in different languages this morning, we can only guess. Our other reading for today keeps us in Galatians and this will be the last time we are reading from Galatians for some time. Paul continues on with his theme of faith versus the law and the importance of us being recognised as children of God. Paul tells the church in Galatia, and us, that if we are led by the Spirit, we are not subject to the law. The Spirit brings us fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These fruits are for all of us. There are no boundaries that keep these fruits from us. This keeps with Paul’s declarations that there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free or male and female. All can have access to the Spirit.
That’s probably what I like most about Pentecost, apart from the red colour. All of this is freely given to us. If you think about that day in Jerusalem, every person who was present heard the Good News in their own language. No one was left out; all were given the opportunity to hear from the apostles. That’s what Paul is telling us, and that is hopefully what we are experiencing.