When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place.2 Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. 4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2: 1-4)
After worship this past Sunday, members of the Worship Team (and some of their family members!) prepared the sanctuary for Pentecost Sunday. Because the official color for Pentecost is red, recalling the tongues of fire alighting atop each disciples’ head, we hung red paraments on the Lord’s Table and pulpit and draped red fabric from either side of the stained-glass cross.
You might wonder where the word ‘Pentecost’ comes from. Think of the shape of that large government building in Arlington,VA (Pentagon), and you will deduce correctly that Pentecost must have something to do with the number five. The eventful day when the Spirit blew through the room where the disciples were gathered occurred fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection. Being that Greek was the preferred language of early Christianity, the Greek word pentecoste, meaning fiftieth, was used to name this important holy day. The Jewish holy festival of Pentecost, or Shavu’ot,(meaning ‘weeks’), occurs seven weeks after Passover.
For those of the United Methodist tradition, the cross and flame (with two tongues) reminds us of the red flames in the Pentecost story. According to UMC.org:
“In 1966, a commission on church union, representing The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren, was authorized to develop an official insignia. Edward J. Mikula (art director) and Edwin H. Maynard (editorial director) were appointed to develop the design. The resulting insignia is rich in meaning. It relates The United Methodist Church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw "tongues, as of fire" (Acts 2:3).The elements of the emblem also recall a transforming moment in the life of Methodism's founder, John Wesley, when he sensed God's presence and felt his heart "strangely warmed." The two tongues can also represent the two bodies that united in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church. The 1968 Uniting Conference adopted this design as the official insignia of the new denomination, and so it has been to this day.”
Now that you have been enlightened on the history and meaning of Pentecost, my prayer for you is that you may be open to the movement of the Spirit in your heart to share the love of Christ with those who may be lonely or hopeless!