Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Preparation for Pentecost

The church calendar shows that this coming Sunday (May 11) is Pentecost Sunday. Some churches have people dress in “red” for Pentecost (“Red Hat” ladies, this should be your favorite Sunday). Evergreen has special Pentecost banners. The red paraments need to come off the shelf and be placed on the communion table and pulpit. At Evergreen, we sing our own rendition of Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky (we only had to change a few words—it is one of the few Sunday’s where I will play the electric guitar in church). Pentecost is almost here.

There is a wonderful linkage between the Old Testament feasts and Jesus. It is too bad that so many people are practically illiterate when it comes to the Old Testament. Our faith is rooted and grounded in the Old Testament. Our preparations for Pentecost will be enhanced when we look at the link between the Old and New Testaments (or, Hebrew and Apostolic Scriptures, in the words of my messianic pastor friend).

God’s people were to celebrate the Passover (also called the Festival of Unleavened Bread) every year. The 10th plague that was coming upon Pharaoh and the Egyptian people was the killing of the first born son. The Hebrew people were to sacrifice a lamb and place some of the blood on the door posts of their homes. The angel of death would see the mark and “pass over” that household.

Jesus was crucified on the Passover. His death is THE Passover sacrifice, once for all. Those who are marked with the blood of Christ do not have to fear death—they have eternal life!

The Counting of the Omer comes on the heels of the Passover. The Omer is the 49 day period between Passover and Pentecost. It is a time of denying yourself in preparation for the celebration on Pentecost.

In the New Testament tradition we have the 40 days between Easter and Christ’s ascension AND the ten days where the disciples were waiting in Jerusalem as per Jesus’ instructions. This 50 day period is to prepare us for the Pentecost experience.

Shavuoth (Pentecost) is the Old Testament holy day related to Moses and the Torah. The Hebrew people believe that God gave the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai on Shavuoth. The Torah is what bound the people of God into a nation. The Torah is where God revealed his will and statutes to his people. Shavuoth was also the first day when people would bring bikkurim to the temple. The bikkurim ( on this link, be sure to scroll down to Chapter 5) was made of the seven crops that were so important to the Hebrew people: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The “first fruits” from these harvests were placed in woven baskets of gold and silver and brought to the Lord.

For Christians, Pentecost is when we celebrate God’s giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is the one who empowers us to serve God, shows us God’s will and gifts us for service in the Kingdom of God. On the first Christian Pentecost there was a tremendous “first harvest”—thousands of people gave their lives to Christ! The harvest continues today!

The Hebrew people so valued the Torah that they spent 49 days preparing to celebrate the receiving of the Torah. It would be great if Christians spent 49 days preparing to celebrate Pentecost! We could spend 49 days praying for God to gift us for service. We could spend 49 days preparing to be a part of God’s “harvest” team.

Well, we don’t have 49 days until Pentecost—we have today (Wednesday), Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We had best get at it if we are going to be “prepared” for Pentecost!


At 5:26 AM , Blogger will said...

"Our faith is rooted and grounded in the Old Testament. Our preparations for Pentecost will be enhanced when we look at the link between the Old and New Testaments (or, Hebrew and Apostolic Scriptures, in the words of my messianic pastor friend)."

You're absolutely right about this. The very (to me) sad part is that many of these links are actually made for us in the Apostolic Scriptures. I find myself wondering why so many of us are so slow to pick up on them.

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