You are cordially invited to a birthday
Where: Your Parish
Why: To Celebrate the Church's Birthday
Are you confused by this invitation? Did you know that the
feast of Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of
the Church? It is called that because Pentecost is when the
apostles went out among the people and began spreading Jesus'
message, thus establishing the beginning of the Church.
Pentecost (Greek for "50th day") is celebrated by Christians
50 days after Easter, and marks the day that the Holy Spirit
descended upon the apostles while they were cowering and hiding
behind locked doors following Jesus' resurrection. After receiving
the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostles immediately
went out and preached Jesus' message to everyone—even those
who spoke other languages.
Actually, Pentecost was originally a Jewish feast that concluded
the 50 days of Passover and celebrated the end of the barley
harvest, plus the beginning of the wheat harvest. The Jewish
people at Pentecost also celebrate the gift of the law to
Moses at Mt. Sinai.
The symbols of Pentecost are wind, fire and a dove.
The first symbol—wind—is taken from the noise the apostles
heard as the Spirit descended upon them (Acts 2:2).
After the wind, flames appeared and rested upon the heads
of each of the apostles (Acts 2:3).
A dove serves as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. There is no
mention of a dove in Acts, but we associate a dove with the
Holy Spirit because of the story about Jesus' baptism: "After
Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of
God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him" (Matthew
Pentecost is probably one of the most important days on
the Church calendar, but it often gets overlooked. Here are
some ways that your family can help celebrate this very important
Because Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, celebrate
it just as you would any other birthday in your home—break
out the cake and ice cream. Rather than singing "Happy Birthday,"
recite a prayer for Pentecost. Most prayer books contain special
prayers for this special day.
Wear something red. The color of the vestments worn
by priests on Pentecost is red, to symbolize the love of the
Holy Spirit, or the tongues of fire that appeared over the
heads of the apostles on Pentecost. And don't just stop at
wearing red. Use a red tablecloth for dinner, eat off red
paper plates, eat red foods, etc. See how many ways you can
incorporate the color red in your celebration.
Read aloud the story of Pentecost in the second chapter
For more projects that you and your family can do
for Pentecost, check out the book Before and After Easter:
Activities and Ideas for Lent to Pentecost by Debbie Trafton
O'Neal (Augsburg Fortress Publishers).
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