June 8 is Pentecost, the 4th of the 4 major festivals of the Christian Year (the others being Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter).  Pentecost is the 50th and final day of the Easter Season.  It was originally a Jewish festival, coming 50 days after Passover.  “Pentecost” is the English form of the Greek word pentekostos, meaning “fiftieth”.

On Pentecost, we commemorate and celebrate God’s giving of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus, as described in Acts 2.1-41.

This event fulfilled promises that Jesus himself had made at the Last Supper (e.g. John 14.25-26), and prior to his Ascension (e.g. Acts 1.4-8).  Previously, God had given the Holy Spirit only to particular leaders in the community of faith, but in the Pentecost event, he gave the Spirit to the entire community.  The Spirit took Jesus’ place as the teacher and leader of Jesus’ disciples, and guided and equipped them to continue the ministry that Jesus had begun, as described in the rest of the Book of Acts.

We celebrate as well the fact that God continues to give the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus today.  The Spirit helps us know how God wants us to live, and to serve him.  Through his influence and power, we can become the kind of people God wants us to be, and are equipped to do acts of service for God.

The symbolic color for Pentecost is red, symbolizing the tongues of fire that appeared to the disciples when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 2.3).