Pentecost signifies life and a new start
What exactly is Pentecost? If you ask people on the street, many have no idea. And yet Pentecost is a prominent Christian feast. It stands for divine service and church, for life and a new start.
Imagine, the situation for Peter and the other disciples after the Lord’s ascension was really very awkward and strange. On one hand, they were full of the things they had experienced—filled to the brim with wonderful stories and experiences. Their faith had been strengthened, they were full of excitement and confidence. Their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, had been with them. He had armed and trained them for their mission to go into the world.
On the other hand, He, the Lord, was gone. They were on their own. But the Ascension message for them had been to get to work. But how? How would this be possible without Him? Well, quite simply, with the power from on high!
The power from on high
In the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church it says (Catechism 18.104.22.168): “The phrase ‘power from on high’ (Greek: dynamis = ‘power’) is an allusion to the fulfilling, motivating, and strengthening activity of the Spirit, and points to the powerful intervention of God. Just as the Father and the Son revealed themselves within the historical world, this self-revelation of God in the Holy Spirit took place on Pentecost as an event of salvation history. The Holy Spirit strengthens the church of Christ in its endeavour to live in a manner pleasing to God and thereby prepare for the return of Christ.” The Holy Spirit—this power from on high—reveals divine thoughts to the Apostles and they carry them into the world. The cycle of divine love does not stop only because the Son of God is no longer here. Quite the contrary: “Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost it is revealed that God is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, filled the Apostles and all those who were with them” (Catechism 22.214.171.124).
The birth of the church
And then something happened that is unique in church history and that will not be repeated: “Thereby the church of Christ became historical reality. This event shows that the Holy Spirit is a necessary prerequisite for church: church and the Holy Spirit belong together.”
The church had been born. Not individual denominations, not the local parish, not small or large congregations—the church as such! And all of a sudden believing people could share in this power from on high. Also here the Catechism has something important to say: “The Holy Spirit is continually present in the congregations led by Apostles. In them there is divine life, which is revealed in the activity and preaching of the Apostles, and which is also to emerge in the words and deeds of every believer (Romans 8: 14). By receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, human beings have fellowship with the triune God as children of God. For those who will be caught up to the Lord, this fellowship will attain its perfection at the return of Christ” (Catechism 126.96.36.199).
Today, many Christians have lost this exuberance and enthusiasm for the church. They amble along as though the church were something disturbing, something demanding. What has happened to the optimistic mood, this get-up-and-go attitude of that time?
Those who cling to Pentecost will be inspired by and feel this power from on high over and over again!