The name itself comes from the Greek word meaning “fiftieth,” for in the agricultural calendar of the Hebrews it was seven weeks after Passover that the “Feast of Weeks” was observed, marking the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. Deuteronomy 16 tells us that it was likewise one of three occasions each year on which male Israelites were supposed to show up and actually “rejoice before the Lord,” with many making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to do just that.
All of which may explain why so many folks were in the Temple courts that day when the Holy Spirit fell upon them and forever changed their lives and faith. For Acts 2 tells us that when the day of Pentecost came, “God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” were “all together in one place.” And yet, in a truly miraculous fashion, everyone heard the wonders of God declared in their own tongue.
From the very beginning, thus, Pentecost has always been about the eternal unity of God’s purposes expressed in the midst of the equally incredible diversity of God’s people. It’s no wonder therefore that early on, many came to see Pentecost as the birthday of the church, for it was on this day that God brought His people together and empowered them for the tasks ahead, that of readying and reaping a great harvest for heaven!
May the Spirit fall once more today upon all who are likewise “together in one place,” if not physically at least so joined in hearts and minds. Happy Birthday, Church, indeed!