Worship leader, Pete James, explains what Pentecost means to him and why we must continue to celebrate it
Can you remember a moment when everything changed? Perhaps it was something exciting like the arrival of your firstborn baby, obtaining your degree or starting your first job. Perhaps it was a moment in history, like the Twin Towers tragedy or the news of a pandemic breaking out across the world.
Pentecost was such a moment in history. However, unlike the global pandemic that we are currently enduring, it didn’t result in a catastrophic loss of life on an unimaginable scale. Instead, it was a moment in history that resulted in God’s salvation on an unimaginable scale.
The importance of harvest
Pentecost (or Shavuot to Jews) is a festival that celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. On one particular Pentecost, mentioned in Acts 2, we read that many people were gathered together. Such was the significance of the occasion that pilgrims had travelled many miles to be in Jerusalem.
Pentecost resulted in God’s salvation on an unimaginable scale
Harvest may not be something we in developed nations think much about – most of us buy our food from supermarkets and, at the click of a button, can pretty much get anything that we want from anywhere in the world. However, in many parts of the world - as in Jesus’ time - people depend on a good harvest. It was - and still is - the difference between life and death for many. It determines the possibility of gathering seed to sow for food that will feed you the following year. For many people across the world, wet weather is more than a frustration when carrying shopping bags to the car, but can be critical in reaping a good harvest. Too little or too much can be fatal.
Celebrating the first fruits
I find it no accident that God would choose this moment to arrive through the gift of his Holy Spirit. As Jerusalem celebrated Shavuot, we read that the disciples were gathered in a room together. Suddenly, they experienced the most incredible moment. A violent wind blew through the house, fire circled overhead and then began to rest on each one of them. God was joining in the harvest celebration!
It was as if God was marking the occasion, celebrating the first fruits of a new life - not only a life with God, but a life filled with God! Everything was about to change. The message of a God-filled life was about to cross cultural and ethnic divides as people heard the Galileans, empowered by God, speak in many languages, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with each and every person present in their own native tongue.
Adding to their number
As with any successful harvest, the result was multiplication. A grain of wheat, successfully sown and harvested, multiplies, producing 40-50 new grains of wheat per ear. This first Pentecost harvest celebration was no different. That day, 3,000 people chose to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and were added to the number of believers in Jerusalem.
The message of a God-filled life was about to cross cultural and ethnic divides
Since that day, the Church has joined together annually to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at such a key festival so many years ago. The fruit of the harvest has never stopped growing as more and more lives are changed as people discover Jesus Christ. The same Holy Spirit who shook the upper room so many years ago continues to empower us - his Church - today.
Celebrating in unity
Thy Kingdom Come is a movement that ignites prayer and evangelism across the world, culminating in a Pentecost celebration. It has sparked a wave of prayer and evangelism that has transcended continents, denominations and demographics. From being involved in the creation of the Cheeky Pandas TV series, to worshipping together at Pentecost celebrations, each of these things have reminded me that God is the God of all people. He always has been and he always will be.
So here’s to Pentecost 2021, and the celebration of the first fruits of a harvest like no other, as we believe for God’s power to bring many more lives into his kingdom and raise the prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.
Pentecost Praise Service for Kids will broadcast on Thy Kingdom Come’s Facebook page at midday BST Sunday 23 May. With songs, worship, prayer and Bible stories, it will be hosted by CBeebies Gemma Hunt, Bishop David Williams and special guests the Cheeky Pandas