Our new blog series invites members and friends of WIN to prepare a ‘festival diary’, exploring the history and significance of specific rituals or outlining the routine of religious celebrations, as a window into the lived experience of people of different faiths. This week, in the run up to the Christian festival of Pentecost or Whitsun, we have a bumper edition two-part festival diary. Our first author is our Trustee and Senior Pastor of Nantwich Elim Church, Rev. Michelle Nunn.
As Pentecost approaches I am reminded that my faith has ancient roots, and our God who is unchanging, who transcends time, is still lovingly committed to people past and present from all nations.
This ancient festival rooted in the Jewish faith, known as Shavuot, or the Feast of Weeks is celebrated on the 50th day after Passover which celebrates Israel’s liberation from Egypt. Jesus’ followers gathered in Jerusalem as he had instructed them for this festival, after his death at Passover (Easter). They had been waiting and praying in preparation for the festival which celebrates the intervention of God, when the Torah/law was given (Deuteronomy 4:10-13) to the Israelites (first five books of the Bible) marked by the bringing in of the bikkurim, the first fruits of the harvest. At Shavuot people brought wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates to the temple as their offering. Passover and Shavuot reminded God’s people that physical liberation remained incomplete without spiritual redemption. The people and the land were to be free and fruitful. This was a joyful time when people made pilgrimages to Jerusalem amidst music and singing carry baskets filled with the first fruits of the land.
Pentecost in the Christian tradition continues as a joyful celebration of the outpouring of the Spirit of Jesus, Holy Spirit upon all believers (Acts 2). It’s a time when we recognise that God’s promise to never forsake humanity given in the law (Deut 31: 6 & 8) and reiterated through Scripture (Isaiah 41: 10-13) still stands. That just as Jesus, the Son of God promised to his followers (Matt. 28:20) he would never forsake them but be with them to the end of the world. On Pentecost, after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension these promises are fulfilled, as the Spirit comes from heaven as the helper, comforter, counsellor and advocate. Appearing like a wind, settling as a tongue of fire on each of them, all were given new languages of prayer and praise which were recognised by others in the crowd from the nations. Today, Jesus’ Spirit, Holy Spirit continues to invite people into a life of loving God and one another. Freedom and fruitfulness is God’s unchanging heart for the nations as Holy Spirit empower believers to transcend the struggles of life and find joy and encouragement together (Rom. 8:28).
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8 NRSVUE
Rev. Michelle Nunn, Senior Pastor Nantwich Elim Church and Member of Elim’s National Leadership Team
If you would like to submit your own festival diary, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org