Subscribe to our newsletter

Save a Marriage Today

Connect with us

The Forgotten Holiday: What Happened to Pentecost?

Five reasons why your family should celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.
By Barbara Rainey

As you have probably noticed, holidays are important in my life and the life of my family. I’ve invested a good amount of time to find creative and memorable ways to mark those annual days on the calendar we call holidays!

From the early days of the Bible’s story, when God gave His people seven yearly feasts, these have anchored human interactions with God and His people in literal feasts of the senses; in celebration. Revelry. Worship. These days were for concentrated, intentional time to delight in God, to stoke the fires of our relationship with Him, and to maintain its health through memorable moments away from the everyday and its constant demands.

God’s original instituted feasts, falling into clusters of three feasts, one feast, and three more, marked time and punctuated ordinary life with hours of significance and meaning.

These Jewish practices find similarities in the Christian holidays we celebrate today.  

Ancient Jewish holiday(s)

Corresponding Christian holiday(s)


Feast of Unleavened Bread

First Fruits  (all early spring holidays)

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday


Shavuot or Pentecost  (spring harvest 50 days following Easter Sunday or First Fruits)

Thanksgiving  (celebrated at different times in many countries)

Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets and Jewish New Year)

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) (all fall holidays)


Christmas Eve

New Year’s Day

And yet, aside from liturgical churches, I know of no Christian celebrations, especially in homes with families, for the feast of Pentecost, the fourth biblical holiday of the year. Jesus dramatically fulfilled this feast when He sent His Spirit, but why don’t we at a minimum give thanks for this miraculous event? How has it been  lost?

Francis Chan’s excellent book, Forgotten God, acknowledges that we have forgotten Him in our daily lives. A celebration like Pentecost helps us remember Him and provides a milestone moment in our families to teach our children who the Spirit is and why we need Him.

In preparation for Pentecost Sunday on May 24, here are five reasons why it is a wonder worth celebrating that the Holy Spirit came.

1. Having the Holy Spirit is better than having the physical person of Jesus! Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away”—so He could send the Helper.  Jesus was confined to a body, a single place. The Spirit can be and is in every place around the globe where a believer is found—and dwells within, guiding the person’s own heart. Amazing!

2. The Spirit will be “with us forever” (John 14:16)—and in every circumstance—unlike Jesus’ physical person. I am so grateful for this promise that He is always with me, whether on a flight that is disconcertingly bumpy, or when I’m feeling like “I can’t do this anymore,” or when I’m simply completing mundane, thankless tasks for the thousandth time. His ever-presence is a comfort.

3. We now have His constant, gentle whisper. I love that He can continually, intimately remind me of what Jesus taught: He will “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I (Jesus) said to you” (John 14:26).

4. Like taking a trip to a national park where the park rangers give every visitor a guide book, so the Holy Spirit “will guide you” throughout your unique, obstacle-and adventure-laden journey of life if you and I will ask (John 16:13).

5. Though there are many more reasons why the Holy Spirit came, one of my favorites remains that “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). There have been many times in my life when I have not known what to pray because I was bewildered or afraid or in pain. Yet in those times the Spirit was praying for me. What a Comforter is the Spirit, sent to us from the throne room of God!

This Sunday, May 24, will be exactly 50 days from Resurrection Day. Jesus ascended into heaven precisely 40 days after His resurrection; then for ten days His disciples waited in Jerusalem “for what the Father had promised,” the gift of His Spirit (Acts 1:4).

Will you join us in celebrating this underappreciated gift from the Father this Sunday? Tomorrow we will share some simple ideas for how to make the day memorable with your family.

© 2015 by FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

Next Steps

1. Read more about observing Pentecost in Barbara’s article, “Four Ideas for Celebrating Pentecost.”

2. Barbara Rainey believes our homes should be like an embassy –since we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), our homes are an embassy to the world.  Learn more about the Ever Thine Home® resources that help you use your home to tell of your faith.

3.  Keep up with Barbara by reading the Ever Thine Home blog.


Meet the Author: Barbara Rainey

Barbara Rainey is a wife, mother of six adult children (plus three sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law), and "Mimi" to nineteen grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1971. She and her husband, Dennis, whom she married in 1972, are co-founders of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru that is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Barbara has published articles on family-related topics and is the author of Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember and When Christmas Came.  She speaks at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences and is a frequent guest on FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated, daily radio program.  She and Dennis are the coauthors of several books, including Growing a Spiritually Strong Family, Starting Your Marriage Right, Moments Together for Couples, The New Building Your Mate's Self-Esteem, Parenting Today's Adolescent, Rekindling the Romance, and Moments with You. She co-authored A Mother's Legacy with her daughter, Ashley Rainey Escue and joined Dennis and their children Rebecca and Samuel on the book So You're About To Be A Teenager. Barbara has also co-authored Barbara and Susan's Guide to the Empty Nest, with close friend Susan Yates, and A Symphony in the Dark, written with her daughter, Rebecca Rainey Mutz. And Barbara has written a series focusing on character traits for families, including the titles Growing Together in Gratitude, Growing Together in Courage, Growing Together in Forgiveness, and Growing Together in Truth.

Having faithfully served alongside Dennis for more than 30 years, both in ministry and at home, Barbara has recently launched a new endeavor called Ever Thine Home™.  This new line of products, including Christ centered ornaments for Christmas, teaching tools for Lent and Easter, and beautiful additions for your home for thanksgiving and year round makes it easy to express faith at home in a way that is both biblical and beautiful.  Her heart for Ever Thine Home is based on the familiar Old Testament instruction:

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:9, ESV)

You can read more about Barbara's work at

Find Barbara online on:
Twitter @BarbaraRainey and Facebook



Save a Marriage Today

Subscribe to our newsletter