(This article can be downloaded as a Word document)


WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD CELEBRATE PENTECOST
Pentecost is a national holiday in many countries around the world, but not in the USA. The most common reason given for this omission is that it conflicts with Memorial Day.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of a Civil War veterans organization, called for a nationwide day of remembrance on the 30th of May, 1868. It was called Decoration Day with the purpose of placing flowers on the graves of veterans who gave their lives in service for their country. In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed, which declared that most federal holidays should be celebrated on a Monday, making it a long weekend. Although Memorial Day had not yet been declared a national holiday, it was included in this ruling. Finally, Decoration Day was declared a federal holiday in 1971. Soon thereafter, it became known as Memorial Day.

Pentecost, however, has been around for millenniums and it is the birthday of the Christian Church. Christians first celebrated the birth of Jesus in the fourth century, but they got the date wrong by several years. This is understandable because there were multiple calendars and methods of keeping time. Most early celebrations revolved around astronomical constellations. Israel was perhaps a forerunner of celebrations as we know them today. They celebrated or commemorated special happenings and annual or seasonal agricultural events.

The Jews celebrated three great annual feasts that lasted a week or eight days each. All these feasts looked both to the past and to the future. The celebration of the Sabbath also looked to the past and to the future. Christians also have three great holidays or "holy days" that look to the past and the future, but American Christians only commemorate two of them.

The Jews celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles they constructed primitive tents or huts from branches, leaves, straw or whatever materials were available during this festival. The festival commemorated God's provision for Israel during their wilderness wandering. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, who was born in a stall and laid on a bed of hay. Part of our celebration involves advent wreaths and bringing a tree into the house. The original reason for this is questionable, but it certainly fits the occasion. Even lights remind of that star studded night when the angels appeared to announce the Savior's birth.

Jews celebrate the Passover, commemorating their deliverance from the bondage in Egypt. Jesus was crucified on the Day of Preparation when the Passover lamb was slain. Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ, who delivered us from the bondage of sin.

The third major feast of the Jews was the Feast of Pentecost, a celebration of God giving Moses the law on Mt. Sinai. Pentecost (Hebrew: Shavuot) means "fifty" and was so named because it comes 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is the birthday of the church when the Lord sent his Holy Spirit, signaling the beginning of the age of grace and preaching the gospel to all men everywhere.

Pentecost is not just the birthday, but the creation of the bride of Christ. God breathed into her nostrils the Breath of Life (Holy Spirit) as he had done at the creation of man! The Groom had left to prepare a place for her but he promised that he would come again and receive her unto himself.

Since Americans universally celebrate their birthdays and the founding of most businesses and institutions, one would expect that Christians would deem the birthday of the Christian Church worth celebrating and commemorating. I find it unfortunate that this important event in the history of mankind is hardly mentioned in American churches today.

Ralph V Harvey, June 9, 2019