You’ve Been Invited To A Birthday Party

Have you ever noticed the lack of regal pagentry in American Protestant churches?  I understand and agree with the fear of  symbolism becoming empty tradition, but I wish we wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.  I’m aware that there are plenty of both Catholic and Protestant churches who use beautiful symbolism to celebrate different holy days.  But this lovely practice has  never been part of the tapestry of my spiritual formation.  In case you have recently joined my journey toward epiphany, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of a liturgical calander.  It’s been interesting as a non-denominational evangelical dare I say Pentacostal, to explore what the church fathers thought as important rembrances throughout our year.  Pentacost is no exception.

Pentacost is generally recognized as the time when the believers in Christ met in the Upper Room, (historically thought to be the same room as the Last Supper), to wait for the promise of the infilling of the Holy Spirit.  After the Ascension, Jesus had promised that He would not leave His followers alone, but would send a Comforter.  The disciples gathered in the Upper Room to wait for the promised Comforter. 

Acts 2

The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost

 1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

This was a very pivotal, and historical moment for the early Church.  After this portion of Scripture, Peter preached to the people in Jerusalem and many came to believe in Jesus as the Son of God that day. 

My quest was to find out how the church has continued to memorialize this date throughout history.

So, for those of you who are like me and didn’t know what Pentacost was beyond Acts 2, here are some facts.

  • To the Western Church, (as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox Church), Pentacost is considered the Birthday of the Church.
  • Western Churches (both the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations) use the color red to symbolize this holy day.
  • Eastern Churches use the color green.
  • Red flowers are often brought into the church to celebrate a newness of life.
  • The early Church used this date as the most common Baptismal date on the Church calendar.
  • The dove is also used as  a symbol.
  • In Italy rose petals are often tossed over the congregants from the balconies.
  • In some more casual Protestant churches red balloons are dropped as a celebration for the birth of the church.
  • The Scriptures are often read in several languages in order to commemorate the disciples speaking with other tongues.

I find it ironic that most Pentacostal churches do not celebrate Pentacost, seeing that the doctrines which define them as different from others are foundationally based on that first Pentacost.  I would personally love to see a  movement towards implementing some of the ancient and meaningful practices into our services. 

What are your thoughts?  Does your church celebrate Pentacost?  Can you share ways in which they do?

17 thoughts on “You’ve Been Invited To A Birthday Party

  1. I really like this post. It is informative and thought provoking! I can’t comment on the subject though as I was raised Catholic. – even graduated from a Catholic high school. However, I hope to learn more about Pentacostal churches via your blog.

  2. Great post!! Within the past 8 years (after our first trip to Israel) we began to explore the “Jewish roots” of Christanity. It has been….WOW. I am blown away by the depth. So yes, we observe the feasts and just finished Pentecost. Glory of Zion (Chuck Pierce) did a nice Pentecost celebration and you could watch live via webcast.

  3. Thanks for reminding us of the Church’s birthday. The Church I attend may mention that it is Pentecost Sunday but there will be no special symbols, visual or otherwise. I hope you get this comment as I can’t see what I’m writing….but wantied to let you know that I would love some pagentry also.

  4. We don’t celebrate it but the idea is certainly exciting! I love celebrations, including all of the Jewish ones that celebrate what our God did in the lives of His people throughout the ages!

    Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Very interesting blog. I can say growing up catholic and going thru all the sacraments baptism, confirmation I really never knew what it any of it really ment. Our church never studied the bible. You would go to mass you sang the same hyms every sunday and said the same prayres. If you missed a sunday you did not miss much because it was the same thing every single week. Compared to now going to a non denominational church. We study the bible in and out. You do not want to miss a Sunday because every Sunday was different. Our Pastor has even done some services on the Pentecost must be because he grew up Catholic like me and he wanted us to know what it really was all about. We really do not do any celebrations but he has done several sermons on it.

    • I think it would be nice to use some of the lovely symbolism of the Catholic church and combine them with their scriptural roots and teaching. That’s great that your Pastor mentions things he used to experience as a Catholic. Happy Pentacost.

  6. Hi Kimberly. I attend a Baptist Church –one that does use a formal liturgy. We acknowledged Pentecost this past Sunday by centering our worship around the the scripture you quoted and singing hymns the celebrate the power of the Spirit. ( I am a soprano in the choir :)) The Spirit is still a mysterious part of of faith but I often feel His presence.

  7. Birthday of the church and ties to the Book of Acts is a great way to understand Pentacost …. (and that has taken me a while) … and I remembered to wear red at the service last weekend! Good post Journey … as always.

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