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What is Whitsunday?

by Rev. Jeffrey Johnson

Whitsunday is the Old English name for Pentecost, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus Christ. Easter and Pentecost became the two biggest days on the church calendar for baptisms. Since those being baptized stood outside the churches on the day of Pentecost wearing white robes, those passing by, seeing all the white robes, called it “White-Sunday”—nicknamed Whitsunday. Anglican churches today continue to use the Old English.

Pentecost (meaning 50) always falls on the seventh Sunday after Easter, and was an ancient feast of Israel after the Exodus. It is a feast for both celebrating the giving of the law (Torah) and the spring harvest. 

The Book of Acts says on the day of Pentecost the sound of a violent, roaring wind came from heaven. The wind came rushing into the house where about 120 followers of Jesus were gathered and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Tongues of fire rested on each believer, and they began speaking different languages. The noise was loud enough to cause a stir in the city and a crowd gathered.

People from all over the world came to the house and heard the disciples speaking in their native tongues. They were astonished that fishermen from Galilee could speak their language. The Apostle Peter stood up and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ to the crowd. God was pouring out His Spirit on His people. He proclaimed His Good News to all those from around the world in the language they could understand and take it home with them. Following Pentecost, the Good News of Jesus Christ spread rapidly from Jerusalem to all the world.

Why do we care? We care because the outpouring of the Holy Spirit fulfilled a promise made by Jesus. He said God would not leave His followers without His presence. He would come and live in them. The God who created the universe and who had seemed to be so far from His people before Jesus lived on earth now was demonstrating His love for mankind. The Holy Spirit is a gift to all who have faith in Jesus Christ. He comes to teach us the truth about God and life, guides our steps, gives us wisdom, strengthens us through challenges, provides protection and comfort. Along with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit completes the Holy Trinity.

All are welcome to worship at All Saints Anglican across from the Middlesex Courthouse in Saluda at 11 a.m. this Sunday to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on Whitsunday.

posted 06.06.2019

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