Pentecost Sunday, which marks the end of the fifty days of Eastertide and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve Apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as the “Birthday of the Church.”
Behold the new has come. Is the Feast of Pentecost the ‘omega’ of God’s Story of Redemption or the ‘alpha’ of God’s Story of Consummation? That is, is this day to be seen—and celebrated—as the conclusion of the Creator’s redeeming work in and for Creation, or as the beginning of the Creator’s renewing work that will end with the Final Consummation?
The answer is: It is both, at one and the same time!
The Day of Pentecost is without doubt the glorious ‘omega’ of the redeeming work of the Messiah—not so much as an additional ‘act’ within the story, but as the sharing of the victory that arises from that finished work. Remember how Peter describes the gift of the Spirit:
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, (Jesus, the crucified, risen, exalted Messiah) has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:33)
On the Day of Pentecost we get to celebrate our sharing in Christ’s victory; a sharing which accomplishes the Creator’s redeeming work within our lives.
But more than that, The Day of Pentecost is also a glorious ‘alpha’ to the renewing work of the Creator! The apostles speak often of the gift of the Spirit as being a ‘down payment’ of the glory of the Consummation, which—though guaranteed—is yet to come; and, of those who have been so gifted with the Spirit, as ‘first fruits’ of that promised ‘new creation’! The Apostle Paul declares that, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ—new creation! The old has passed away; behold the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
On the Day of Pentecost we look back at Christ’s finished work and ahead to the Creator’s consummate end, rejoicing in the presence and power of the Spirit who is both the gift of that finished work and the guarantor of that glorious end.