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)
|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)
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, 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!
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