The Pentecost Doldrums

The Pentecost season doesn’t really feel like a season in the same way Easter or Christmas have a season. Pentecost feels like the baseline and everything else feels special in some way because it isn’t the same thing that happens through the long Pentecost season. If you feel that way, I don’t blame you.

But, if we look at the Pentecost season in the context of all of Biblical history, something becomes apparent. Throughout all of the Old Testament, God is working to remove the barriers that exist between He and us. He establishes the temple where He will be present among His people. This is certainly a step up from the very sporadic interaction they had with God before, who seemed to only speak to people here and there. Now at least God is available. You know where He is.

Still, even then you typically only went to the temple every once in a while. Feast days and other times when you were offering a sacrifice for one reason or another. However, while God was there, your interaction with Him was still pretty limited. Only the high priest truly got to come into God’s presence and even that was only once a year.

This is a large part of what makes the incarnation so new and different. God is present among His people in the flesh. There is no mediator nor is one needed. God interacts with His people directly and they with Him. Unfortunately this interaction is still limited. Everyone can come to Christ, but only those who lived where He was and during the time He was alive. Anyone living outside of that location or at a different time was never given the opportunity. Jesus ascends into heaven and is seen no more. Or so one might think…

The Pentecost season focuses on the establishment of the church. Though Jesus has ascended by the time Pentecost rolls around, the liturgical season of Pentecost is still reflecting the life of Christ, just as the whole rest of the year does. That hasn’t changed. Jesus tells His disciples, “…and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He means precisely what He says. One might assume He means this in a vague, “warm, fuzzy” feeling that God’s watching over us, but He doesn’t.

Pentecost begins the life of the church and with the life of the church comes the celebration of the Eucharist. The very body and blood of Christ in the midst of His people. That then means the Pentecost season celebrates an entirely new way of encountering God. The persistent and personal presence of God Himself among us. It is still the life of Christ. It’s just that now it is the life of Christ among His people around the world and at all times. Not just confined to a small place in the Middle East 2000 years ago.

Christ continues to be among us. He who promises to never leave us nor forsake us is making good on His promise. He has at the same time left and is still present. We don’t have to wait for feast days or sacrifices. We are able to meet God whenever we come together to celebrate with Him. God has truly given you a gift this Pentecost season. He is with you always, just as He said.

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