Friday, April 12, 2024

Shavuot or Pentecost

by Bob Shillngstad
| May 16, 2020 1:05 AM

The weekend of May 30-31 marks the observance of Pentecost and Shavuot, holy days to Christians and Jews respectively. And both involve certain “gifts” that don’t come with wrapping and bows.

Both of these holidays have deep biblical significance, but we don’t talk about them much today. We mentioned earlier that Easter and Passover coincided this year and that often doesn’t happen. Now seven weeks later we will observe Pentecost, which is one of the seven “Feast Days” given to the Jewish people by God in Leviticus Chapter 23.

Each of these days is intertwined with the Old and New Testament worship and prophecy and to delve into that here would require volumes. When we celebrated Passover and Easter (which coincides with the third feast which is First Fruits) no one had any idea that seven weeks later we would still be in lockdown and looking forward to Pentecost. This celebration was dictated in scripture to take place the day following a seven-week wait and take place on the 50th day, hence the Greek name of Pentecost or fifty.

For the Jews it was to celebrate the second harvest. The Rabbi would hold up two loaves of bread and to the believers after Christ’s resurrection it was when the Holy Spirit filled the house where they were sitting and the church grew and began (Acts Chapter 2). By tradition the Rabbis still read the book of Ruth on the day of Pentecost. This is interesting because the story brings together a gentile, Ruth, with Boaz a Jew and together they are in the lineage of David and ultimately Jesus.

Pentecost is not a major celebration of the church today and often goes by without any acknowledgment. We don’t celebrate a wheat harvest, but to remember when the Holy Spirit invaded the Church in Acts 2. As Jesus said in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have told you.”

Before we retired, my wife, Jane, and I moved to this area. We lived in Richland, Wash., for many years. The history of Richland is fascinating because in 1942 it was a sleepy farm town of 300 in the desert. The government decided this would be the perfect spot to build a reactor for the Manhattan Project and it purchased 640 square miles of land and moved everyone off their property.

As the government moved in over 50,000 workers in 1943, it had to build them homes, schools and churches — all on government land. It built Roman Catholic churches, protestant churches and a synagogue. There was Central, Northside, Westside and Southside Protestant churches for example. We attended Central Church, which was across the street from Christ the King Catholic Church, a government decision.

An interesting annual event began early on when Pentecost came around, organized by the priest and pastor and continued for decades. On Pentecost Sunday, all who attended were asked to wear something red. After the morning service both churches would meet between the buildings on the street, sing songs, prayers by the ministers and balloons would be released. Of course there were coffee and goodies afterward.

Both churches remembered and shared that special day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit established the church. The government may have dictated the locations and number of churches but they knew where the true source of the church was.

Pentecost Sunday is more than a church service, it is the sacraments- baptisms, dedications, weddings, communion, funerals and of course praying together. A new song by the Gaithers entitled “This Is The Place” gives the perfect picture of the church. There is a video that they made as they sing it and I would encourage all to watch it on YouTube:

( or you can google the title. Let us celebrate the birthday of the church.

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.” -Psalm 16:7-9

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Bob’s religion columns appear Saturdays in The Press. Email Bob: