Wouldn’t it be nice to have Christmas twice each year? We all love the traditional food, carols, and decorations that go with the season. Giving and receiving gifts is nice too, and remind us of the greatest Gift which God gave when the Christ Child was born.
Still, even if the Father had given His Son to us, and Jesus had given Himself for us on the cross, but if all this had been hidden from us, we would never come to know and believe in Him. In that case, all would be for nothing.
Pentecost is typically as far away from Christmas as we can get on the annual calendar. Yet we have a wonderful reason to celebrate on this day—the day on which the gifts of faith and eternal life were delivered in a special, personal way to Jesus’ Church.
Pentecost could rightly be called “The Holy Spirit’s Christmas.”
In fact, Pentecost could rightly be called “The Holy Spirit’s Christmas.”
People sometimes ask: “But wasn’t the Holy Spirit always there?” Of course He was; He was present at creation and throughout Old Testament times. But then, so was Jesus—as the pre-incarnate Christ. And just as Jesus was given in a special, personal way to the world at the first Christmas, so the Holy Spirit came in a special, personal way to believers on the first Christian Pentecost. [The Jewish Feast of Weeks/Pentecost was chosen for the “outpouring”—when many people from foreign lands would be in Jerusalem to witness the Holy Spirit’s Christmas. – Editor]
There are many parallels between these two holy days. Just as the prophets announced the coming of God’s Son in Old Testament times, so the arrival of the Holy Spirit was foretold. In Joel chapter 2 the Lord announced “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” And as with the arrival of God the Son, so the arrival of the Holy Spirit came with astounding miracles.
The festival of Pentecost did not come with a star rising in the east, but rather it came with tongues of flame and the sound of a mighty, rushing wind. Though there was no chorus of angels over the fields of Bethlehem on Pentecost, we do hear of the apostles proclaiming the wonderful works of God in languages they had never studied. Their “gloria in excelsis Deo” (“Glory to God in the Highest”) was the great Good News of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
What would a holiday celebration be without gifts? With the birth of Jesus, God gave us a Child of hope, a Keeper of commandments on our behalf, and a Sacrifice that fully paid for all our sin-guilt, as well as a resurrection that guarantees our own.
With the special arrival of God’s Holy Spirit, these precious gifts are delivered to each one of us and made our own by faith.
Who was it, after all, who caused the Bible writers to pen the words of Scripture so we can believe?
Who was it that was sent to be our Comforter, a deposit and guarantee that we belong to the true God?
The festival of Pentecost did not come with a star rising in the east, but rather it came with tongues of flame and the sound of a mighty, rushing wind.
Who is it that sets us apart from the unbelieving, sinful world by bringing light to our dark hearts?
Who is it that works and strengthens faith in us through God’s Word and the sacraments of Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?
The answer to each of our questions is God’s Holy Spirit, whose special day we celebrate fifty days after Easter each spring. We depend on Him to make God’s grace our own, for “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Yes, we are quite a few months away from the Christmas season. Yet this day of the outpouring of the Spirit is no less joyful, for it is through Him that Jesus and all the gifts He brings are personally delivered to us.
And so a very blessed Pentecost, the “Holy Spirit’s Christmas,” to you!