Church tradition knows this Sunday (June 8th) as Pentecost Sunday, usually considered the birthday of the Church, when the Holy Spirit descended upon and filled the Apostles. If you count starting by including Easter, it’s the 50th day of what the liturgical calendar knows as Easter-Tide (which ends that period of time, and starts what is known as ordinary time, which lasts till Advent). It marks seven weeks from Easter Sunday (7 always being a significant number in the Bible).
Though the New Testament references Pentecost as a Jewish celebration, you will find no reference to Pentecost in the Old Testament. The Greeks used the word Pentecost (which means Weeks – or the fiftieth day) to refer to the Feast of Weeks, which you can find in your Old Testament as the Festival of Weeks (around late May or Early June). Leviticus 23:15-22; Exodus 34:22; Numbers 28:26-31; and Deuteronomy 16:9-12.)
12th Century – Pentecost(
The Old Testament referenced the Festival of Weeks as a celebration of the firstfruits of the harvest, the new grain (the grain harvest). It contrasted with the later Festival of Ingathering, the Harvest (the fruit harvest), which occurred at the end of the Israeli farming season (around September or October), also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (the Feast of Booths).
Jean II Restout : Pentecôte (1732)
The Old Testament says again and again that the Israelis had to appear before him three times a year, at Sabbath (when the barley was ripe), at the Festival of Weeks (when the new grain, the firstfruits were ready), and at Harvest time (the Festival of Tabernacle, or Booths).
Modern Jews no longer refer to the Festival of Weeks. (Instead they refer to Shavout – which also means Weeks.)
Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld- Ruth im Feld des Boaz (1828)
So for Israel, the Festival of Weeks also celebrated their entry into the Old Testament Covenant to obey the Law, which formed the basis for their national identity. So in some ways, it was a celebration of their birth as a nation.
So it is interesting that the New Testament community finds a parallel with the birth of the Church, which is often seen as a continuation of the Old Testament Church (Assembly).
However, the Christian community has come to celebrate this Sunday as both the Birthday of the Church, as well as a very special day to celebrate the Holy Spirit, often the almost forgotten 3rd Person of the Trinity. Western churches, by tradition, decorate the church in red to symbolize the joy and fire of the Holy Spirit, and more recently, the congregation wears something red as well – so you would do well to remember to wear something red. However, the important point is to honor, remember, and worship the Holy Spirit, and look to Him to help us fully live our life in Christ.
In contrast, Eastern Orthodoxy uses green to celebrate Pentecost (the clergy and congregation carry flowers and green branches to celebrate it). In that tradition, they celebrate the Pentecost feast for three days, Trinity Sunday, Spirit Monday, and The Third Day of the Trinity (Tuesday). Their Pentecost Afterfeast lasts a week.
In a sense, those who believed on the original Day of Pentecost were a firstfruits of the many believers who would follow in the Church. The New Testament also refers to us believers as firstfruits saved by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, as well through belief in the truth. 2nd Thessalonians 2:13.
So come join us as we celebrate the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church!