On Sunday, May 24th, don’t forget to bake a cake and get some candles. It’s Pentecost Sunday, which is the official birthday of the Church. If you didn’t know that, then you’re welcome. I always like to offer helpful service to my fellow man, and giving people a valid excuse to have some cake is one of the nicest things anyone can do—at least in my book. And in my book, cake is required a minimum of four times per week.
On Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the event that occurred 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. All the disciples were gathered in the upper room. Suddenly the room was filled with a sound like the rushing wind. Then little flames of fire appeared and came to rest over each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues. And the first thing St. Peter said was, “Hey, let’s have some cake.”
OK well, maybe he didn’t actually say that, but I’m sure he was thinking it. After all, it was the Church’s birthday. I hope the little flames over their heads didn’t set the party hats on fire.
Nowadays, we’ve not only lost sight of the fact that Pentecost is the Church’s birthday, but we’ve also lost sight of our need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s face it, the Holy Spirit is often the forgotten person of the Trinity. We say, “God the Father, yes, the Almighty Creator of the Universe.” Then we say, “Jesus Christ, yes, His only Son, our Lord and Savior.” And finally, we say, “The Holy Spirit, well, um, two out of three ain’t bad.”
The Holy Spirit is like the Maytag Repairman in those old TV commercials: no one ever bothers to call Him.
It’s very difficult to comprehend the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and if brilliant theologians struggle with it, I’m certainly not going to be able to explain it. But an analogy I once heard kind of makes sense. Think of God the Father as a lamp, and Jesus is like a light bulb, and the Holy Spirit is like electricity. If you have a lamp and a bulb, that’s a great start. But if you never plug it in and get some electricity flowing, you will remain in the dark.
Knowing that God the Father is our Creator is great. Knowing that Jesus is the Messiah who died on the cross and rose again three days later is wonderful. But if we stop there, it’s just a bunch of interesting information. It’s not a life-changing experience that transforms us from the inside out. The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who dwells in our hearts and inspires us to live joyful and victorious Christian lives.
Pentecost Sunday is the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of how important the Holy Spirit is. Just read the Gospels and the Book of Acts to see how the Holy Spirit can change people. Before Pentecost, the disciples were confused and timid. Don’t forget: they were in the upper room behind locked doors because they were afraid. But when the Holy Spirit filled them with power, they burst out of that upper room—after, I assume, having some cake—and were never timid again. A bunch of simple fishermen and other uneducated people spread the Good News throughout the entire known world and changed the course of human history. It wasn’t because of their talent and skills, it was the power of the Holy Spirit.
So on Pentecost Sunday let’s pray that the Holy Spirit fills us with power, too. And don’t forget to have some cake.