For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia, for he was hastening to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
He desperately wanted to be in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Day of Pentecost.
Paul lived by a calendar. We all do. Here’s what I love about Paul’s calendar. It was the same calendar Jesus used. Their calendar did not have Memorial Day and the Fourth of July (good as those days are). Their calendar was not marked by the important celebrations of the Assyrians or the Babylonians; the ancient Egyptians or even the imperial Romans. Maybe they shot a bottle rocket on Caesar Augustus monthff, but likely not. Paul and Jesus and every Jew before them, subscribed to an Awakening Calendar. They followed a calendar whose dates were delineated and defined by the mighty acts and movements of the God of Heaven and Earth. This calendar had a singular agenda—to keep them alive, alert and awake to the story of God, apart from which their own story could be neither narrated nor even understood.
The ancient Israelites marked their calendar year with three major festival movements. Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Passover, of course, marked the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, the deliverance from slavery to Pharaoh, and the parting of the Red Sea. Pentecost marked the giving of the Law/Torah on Mt. Sinai, some fifty days after the Passover. Tabernacles, often called “Booths” marked the 40 years of sustaining grace in the wilderness where God led them and fed them and brought them to the land of promise—the season in which they lived in tents or “tabernacles.”
Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, not only observed this calendar his whole life, but he completely recapitulated and reinterpreted it by his whole life. You will remember it was at Passover where he was lifted up on the Cross as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, rising from the dead on the third day. Forty days later he ascended into Heaven, and ten days after that, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles and the Church was born.
It’s why Paul desperately wanted to get to Jerusalem for the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost was one of those red letter days of celebration for the Hebrew people. It marked the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. It is also when they celebrated the beginning of the wheat harvest. These connections between the former Day of Pentecost and the latter Day of Pentecost hold utterly brilliant connections and correlations. I once heard Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Papal household of John Paul II, say, “The Law was given so the Spirit might be desired. The Spirit was given so the Law might be obeyed.” And the coming of the Holy Spirit signaled to us the beginning of the great and final Harvest of the Kingdom. All that awaits now is the end of all things broken and the beginning of all things made new.
It’s fascinating how the Festival of Tabernacles celebrated the long wandering in the wilderness awaiting entry into the land of promise. After the Day of Pentecost, the followers of Jesus, filled by the Holy Spirit, went into Jerusalem, to all Judea, Samaria and away to the ends of the world to share the promises of God for all of Creation.
Like Paul, we were not present on the original Day of Pentecost for the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church Jesus is building. He had to get back there in order to remember and re-live and become even more deeply reincorporated into this incredible story of God. It’s why he desperately wanted to be in Jerusalem for the celebration of the Day of Pentecost.
The Day of Pentecost is coming around again this coming Sunday, June 5. We don’t have to be in Jerusalem, though that would be amazing. Because of the outpoured Holy Spirit, our town and our church will be just as good.
We now live in the last days, the Age of the Holy Spirit—the age of awakening—the epic era between the comings of Jesus Christ. At Seedbed, we have made it our practice every year to devote the season of summer, beginning on the Day of Pentecost, to the focused study, reflection and transformational experience of the Third Person of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit.
So I ask you, “Are you ready for a Holy Spirit summer?” See today’s PS for some particular invitations and opportunities.
Abba Father, we thank you for the gift who is the Holy Spirit. We yearn to know the Holy Spirit, the one who makes it his primary concern to turn our knowledge about Jesus into actually knowing him. I have so much to learn, and I want to learn and grow to be filled with all the fullness of God. Open a new and fresh door this summer, ordain a season of deep transformational learning and growth. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
So, . . . are you ready for a Holy Spirit Summer?
Step 1: Participate in the Summer Book Club. Our friend, Dr. Ivan Filby, has written a fantastic book called LiveStream: Learning to Minister in the Power of the Holy Spirit. We have built a book club with a lot of features around it, including time with the author. Register here. It starts now. You are not too late to join. Step 2: Holy Spirit Summer Daily Text Series begins June 5, Day of Pentecost. Invite friends. More to come. Check it out here.
For the Awakening,