Of all the Christian holidays, the one that surprises me the most is Pentecost. It surprises me that every Christian does not observe it. After all, it is the birthday of the New Testament church. It is the day the Holy Spirit fell on the church in power. You would think that if they are going to celebrate anything, they would have an important anniversary every year at Pentecost.
On the other hand, it is a fact that more than half of all Christendom observes Pentecost. In England it is a national holiday, called Whitsunday, or
White Sunday—because of the custom of wearing white for baptism, and the large numbers of baptisms on Pentecost. But most American churches remain blissfully unaware of Pentecost. It is a word they attach to a charismatic movement that includes speaking in tongues. They don’t think of it as a day. And yet Pentecost is definitely a Christian holiday.
There is a curious thing about Pentecost, though. The word
Pentecost is a Greek word that means
Fiftieth. The fiftieth what? Well, since it is the
day of Pentecost it would seem to mean
the Fiftieth day. But the fiftieth day from what? To tell you that story, I have to paint in a little background. The basic scripture that outlines all these holidays is the 23rd chapter of Leviticus.