Pentecost, when people understand each other

Ascension and Pentecost are two important Christian holy days that are celebrated in May. May is both a month of contemplation and boundless joy. And the reason for this is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

In the month of May, the divine services in the New Apostolic Church will focus on two church holy days. Ascension is the first of these feasts. The congregation at the time of Jesus was sad when the Master told them that He would be going away. They would have liked Him to have stayed with them. After all, He had become the centre of their lives. He had renewed their hope, reinforced their joy, encouraged them, and made better people of them. He had struck a chord in them. Fellowship, neighbourly love, and their interactions with one another—all of this had taken on a whole new dimension. Even their worries and troubles seemed more bearable. They now took better care of each other and their neighbour. Life was good and meaningful. Their self-confidence soared to new levels. In other words, everything was good and beautiful with Him. Everything had felt right with their Lord. And now He was planning to leave them.

The ascension and return of Jesus

On Ascension Day, believing Christians commemorate Christ’s ascension to heaven, and are reminded that they will be able to experience their own ascension. Their motto: we are the expectant and hopeful community that is allowing the Holy Spirit to prepare them for this event. Just as the birth of Christ changed the world and was an occasion for great joy, Christ’s ascension has great significance for the salvation of mankind. It marked the beginning of the time period in which believers wait for His return.

What was the congregation left with then? A promise, an outlook, and confidence in His words!

In the period leading up to Pentecost, the focus is on the expectation of the Spirit. “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16: 8–11). Jesus Himself prepared His Apostles for the time following His death, and promised to send them the Holy Spirit as a divine helper. Biblical literature calls this His farewell discourse. Jesus told them that the Holy Spirit would impart knowledge, and would also explain what was still unknown to them. He would guide, teach, and enliven them.

New life, new joy

The Holy Spirit is also new life. His outpouring had noticeable effects on the people and the world they lived in, and it still does so today. The Spirit of God helps us understand our neighbour, strengthens that which we have in common, and leads to unity. He creates new courage, helps us find the right words, and creates great joy.

Pentecost is the feast that testifies of the faithfulness of God. God is faithful. Those who remain faithful to Him will receive the crown of eternal life from Him. Those who desire to have a profound experience at Pentecost should remember their pledge to the Lord: I want to remain faithful to Him, I will fight against sin, I want to trust in His grace, and I want to serve Him! This approach will give Pentecost a personal touch and the new life within us will grow.

Bible reading on Ascension: Luke 24: 44–53

“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.
“And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.”

Bible reading on Pentecost: Acts 2: 1–13

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’
“So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’”

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Peter Johanning
Divine service, Doctrinal instruction