Easter is a big deal. It should be. Jesus rose from the dead. Can’t get bigger than that. So we celebrate this universe-altering event by a bunny giving out colored eggs, baskets filled with goodies and eating Peeps. Of course, it all makes perfect sense to me.
Christmas is an even bigger deal (in many people’s minds). Think of it as the baby shower of the Christian faith, only everyone gets presents. Hooray. Christmas has even more traditions than Easter that have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus’ coming into the world. (Sorry Rudolph).
Pentecost seems like it is no deal at all. No baskets. No Presents. No special dinners. No parties. No time off from work. Nothing. For the average American church goer the following holidays are all bigger deals than Pentecost:
- Thanksgiving (except for Detroit Lions’ fans);
- Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day (Yahoo! Three day weekends are great!);
- Super Bowl Sunday (Gotta love football);
- Any Sunday with an NFL game (Gotta love even more football);
- Halloween (Forget tricks, gimme treats.),
- New Year’s Eve (Whew, we made one more trip around the sun),
- Mother’s Day (Don’t forget to call mama);
- St. Patrick’s Day (Green is keen);
- St. Valentine’s Day (Honey, will you marry me? Not original, but effective);
- Arbor Day (Trees, tress and more trees);
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day (We still love three day weekends!),
- the birthday of your second cousin twice removed (What’s his name? Who cares? Pass the cake),
- practically any of the other 365 days on your calendar.
Pentecost gets the short end of the calendar stick. But Pentecost is a really big deal. It’s the day the Holy Spirit came supernaturally upon the 120 believers and transformed the rag tag bunch (most of whom had failed Jesus miserably less than a couple of months earlier) into the turn-the-world-upside-down Jesus champions, more commonly known as “The Church.” What happened on the original Pentecost is a bigger deal than most everything on the list above. Of course, Christmas and Easter are big deals (don’t @ me), but so is Pentecost. It’s a much bigger deal than any “holiday” in the third paragraph list (sorry mom, it’s true).
Why don’t we celebrate Pentecost more? We will have a red cloth draping the cross, candles reminding us of the tongues of fire, and the reading of scripture in different languages. That’s it. That’s what will happen in the church building on Sunday to recognize that it’s Pentecost Sunday. But maybe the true Pentecost celebration is when the Church starts behaving in a manner that would make the first Pentecost celebrators proud. It’s when we help a neighbor, feed the hungry, and care for the needy. Pentecost is best celebrated when, like in Peter’s bold sermon, we proclaim the Savior and see a life (or 3,000 lives as in ol’ Pete’s case) transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. The Bible says all of heaven rejoices at this good news (See Luke 15). Heavenly Parties > Earthly holiday parties. Much greater!
You can have your blowing out of birthday candles (and spitting all over the cake that I’m about to eat); your Christmas fruit cake and Easter’s deviled eggs—I hope to celebrate Pentecost by telling someone about Jesus—the one who died and rose again!