Today is Pentecost, a day set aside in the church’s calendar for commemorating “the birthday of the church.” Scriptures describe the Holy Spirit being given to Jesus’ followers on Pentecost (following the Jewish Feast of Weeks), empowering those first believers to take up the work that Jesus had begun when he walked among them. Filled with a new power, the Apostles began to proclaim the good news of Christ in such a way that onlookers from many nations could hear and understand in their own languages. Scholars point back to this event and see in it the origins of what know today as Church. Thousands of new believers came to faith in those first moments.
In the midst of the wind, the fire, the crowds and curiosity, there is also a quiet confirmation that Jesus—much like the Abba that he served—fulfilled all the promises he made to his followers when the Holy Spirit was given. The Holy Sprit’s presence announces that we are in a living relationship with God; God is not far off but ever present, and close at hand. Baptism and the giving of the Holy Sprit are properly viewed not as a culmination of religious endeavor, but as an initiation into a new life. A life in which God walks with us, responds to us, and faithfully fulfills his word in us.