What is Pentecost and Why Do We Celebrate It? 

Pentecost, a liturgical holiday we observe here at Mt. Bethel, marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ, as recounted in the Book of Acts. Its relevance resonates deeply not only in the historical narrative but also in the ongoing mission of believers today to make disciples of all nations.

The story unfolds in Acts chapters 1 to 7, beginning with Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples before ascending into heaven. He urges them to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit. As the believers gather in unity, a sound like a mighty rushing wind fills the house, and tongues of fire rest upon each of them. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in other languages, enabling them to proclaim the wonders of God to people from various nations.

The timing of Pentecost holds profound significance, as it coincides with the Jewish festival of the same name. Jews from all over the world had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest festival, unaware that they would witness the birth of the Christian church. This convergence of people from different regions symbolizes the reversal of the dispersion of the tribes of Israel, as Pentecost becomes a catalyst for the spread of the gospel message.

The impact of Pentecost reverberates beyond the immediate event. It marks the beginning of the church’s mission to proclaim the gospel to all nations. The persecution that follows, notably the stoning of Stephen, scatters the believers from Jerusalem, fulfilling Jesus’ commission to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We commemorate Pentecost not only as a historical event but also as a reminder of their call to participate in the mission of making disciples. Just as the early disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to boldly proclaim the gospel, we are called to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

As we reflect on Pentecost, let us embrace our role in continuing the mission that began over two millennia ago. Let us heed the call, empowered by the same Spirit that descended on the early church, and boldly proclaim the Good News to the ends of the earth.

The Symbols of Pentecost and their Meanings

  • Wind – Represents God’s first breath of love into all of creation. A “driving wind” surrounded the apostles on that first Pentecost to strengthen them in their faith. The breath of the Holy Spirit – and sometimes a gusting wind – strengthens and challenges God’s people on their faith journey.
  • Fire – Represents the Holy Spirit, who filled the apostles with enthusiasm, replacing their fear with the courage to go forth and share Christ’s story. “Tongues of fire … came to rest on each one of them.”
  • Red – The color of liturgical vestments on Pentecost, represents the vigor of the Holy Spirit and the zeal of those who open their hearts to the Spirit.
  • Water – Represents new life and the commitment first made at our baptism and renewed throughout our faith lives.
  • Dove – Symbol of peace. Represents the Holy Spirit that descended “like a dove” and hovered over Jesus when he was baptized.

Ways to Pray in Preparation for Pentecost

  • For a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Body of Christ at Mt. Bethel to empower us as individuals to go out into our community and make disciples
  • For unity and harmony of both the local church and the global Church around the Great Commission
  • For boldness in sharing the gospel with your friends and neighbors who do not yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ

Preparing for Pentecost 

Below, you can tune into “Preparing for Pentecost,” an online worship event we’ve created to help you focus your thoughts on the story of the early church and the significance of the call to make disciples.