Today is one of the most important days in the Christian year, and yet most American churches will celebrate Memorial Day instead. Barely a word will be spoken about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church and God’s plan to spread the Kingdom. Instead we’ll get patriotic sermons, patriotic songs, and plenty of flags.
From my vantage point, churches are missing out when they celebrate Christmas and Easter, but not Pentecost. There is a trinitarian flow to the Christian year that is savaged when you cut the Spirit out. It’s like reaching the crescendo of a good song and then suddenly stopping.
Jesus rose, told his disciples to spread the Kingdom, and then ascended into heaven; is that it? How do we reach the nations? How do we go on without our leader? What empowers the church in its’ mission? Without Pentecost, we don’t have the answers to those questions.
Now, I obviously know that most churches deal with those questions and answer them adequately, so it’s not as if people are sitting in the pews oblivious as to the existence of the Spirit. But people know about the incarnation and resurrection, so why spend the time on those days? Because they are vitally important to the church, that’s why.
And so is Pentecost.