Your New Favorite Holiday!
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Born in Bethlehem, in a manger, aka a feeding trough. Because there was no room at the Inn. Why was there no room at the Inn? Because Bethlehem was teaming with people.
The ancestors of King David had to report to Bethlehem to be officially counted in the Roman census. See, David was born in Bethlehem, some 1,000 years before this census. Thus, everyone in David’s family had to go to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.
Although, there’s one weird fact about Christmas that challenges some sensibilities. Or, I guess, it would be better said, one weird fact that is largely overlooked. It’s weird when actually thought about, but the birth of a baby seems to outweigh any social norms or anxiety over this fact. Thus, we sing about it, include it in our stories, but we don’t dwell on it. At least not us Protestants.
This weird fact is that Jesus was born of a virgin. Which is a miracle. And I guess that’s the point. Christmas is all about miracles. Dreams coming true and wishes being granted. Thus, a virgin birth fits in well enough that it doesn’t offend our civil sensibilities.
We can let it slide. For all of the rest of the magic of Christmas outweighs this one outlier of a fact. Thus, Christmas is and remains the Super Bowl of all holidays.
Next is Easter. Not as big as Christmas, but still up there in the top five. One of the reasons for Easter not being as big as Christmas is the fact that Easter challenges our civil sensibilities in a much deeper way.
You can’t get past the whole resurrection thing at Easter. You can’t sweep it under the rug or ignore it. The story is: Jesus was crucified, dead and laid in a tomb. On the third day Jesus rose from the grave. He was dead-no-more, aka resurrected.
This weirdness is just too much for some to stomach. Some people, who could look past the virgin birth of Christmas, can’t look past the resurrection of Easter. It’s just too much. Too weird. And too science-fiction.
Thus, Easter will always be seen as a second-tier holiday. It’s good, like a pre-New Year’s Day college bowl game. But not a main-event holiday.
Easter is truly celebrated only by followers of Jesus. People’s whose life and faith is open to the possibility of a new beginning. The possibility of resurrection from the grave, through faith in Jesus. Along with random candy lovers, who take advantage of the holiday sales.
That brings us to the largely unknown by the world and in some circles, little celebrated in the church, holiday of Pentecost. Pentecost gets no play in the outside world. Take a poll of the men or women on the street and Pentecost will only be known by those who have attended church for good part of their lives. And most of those people won’t even be able to tell you when the holiday is celebrated.
Why is this? Because Pentecost deals with the Holy Spirit. No gifts. No trees or pretty flowers. No Santa or cuddly bunny. No candy canes or chocolate eggs. Just this Holy Spirit thing. This ghost-like presence that is in us and with us. The original Force.
This is definitely too weird for many to stomach. A ghost that has come down to earth from heaven that takes up residence in people who believe in Jesus. This is too far. Pentecost doesn’t have one stitch of worldliness. No little drummer boy or butterflies. Just tongues of fire coming down from heaven that enabled people to speak in different languages.
Thus, Pentecost gets no love. But for a follower of Jesus, Pentecost is a very big deal. It’s the celebration of the day that God released the Holy Spirit into our reality. Because of Pentecost, every person who yields their life to the Lordship of Jesus, receives the gift of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Aka, God living in them.
Pentecost, in essence, is the culmination of Christmas and Easter. Christmas gives us Jesus. Easter gives us the possibility of an eternal life. Pentecost gives us the Holy Spirit. Which enables us to fully experience the presence of Jesus and the possibility of an eternal life, right here, right now.
So, if you didn’t know it, this year Pentecost is celebrated on Sunday, May 28. Why don’t you plan on finding a church and go check out Pentecost for yourself? You never know, you just might find your new favorite holiday!