We are blessed to have the opportunity this year to celebrate Emancipation Day on Thursday, May 20, 2021, here in Florida. It is a great time for us to recognize that all enslaved persons shall be forever free! Also, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday on May 23, 2021.  Pentecost means “fifty,” so named because this festival was celebrated fifty days after Passover. Pentecost was a glorious day of celebration, a day when people were expected to fervently send praise and thanksgiving to God. 

Texts from the Hebrew Bible help to explain that the Spirit of God came upon isolated individuals or smaller groups only on special occasions, and temporarily to help them accomplish God’s purposes (Exodus 31:3; Judges 14:6; 1 Samuel 16:13). For Christians, Pentecost marked the coming of the Holy Spirit! At Pentecost, God confirmed the validity of the Holy Spirit’s ministry by sending fire, meaning fervor to the people present. 

Bible readers recall that at Mount Sinai fire went down on one place, the burning bush, yet at the time of Pentecost, fire symbolically covered a crowd of believers. God’s presence was available to all who believed. This event certainly fulfilled John the Baptist’s words about the Holy Spirit baptizing with fire (Luke 3:16). Peter declared that this event had been prophesied by Joel (Joel 2:28-29). Note, too, that every believer in the room received this blessing; no one was excluded. It was clear to all present that God was at work. Pentecost was the day Christ made good on his promise to send the Helper, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would take up permanent residence in those who put their faith in Christ. 

What does this mean for present-day Christians? One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help us maintain unity and get along with each other. But we must actively do our part in maintaining peaceful relationships. We do this by loving others with the same encouragement, love, and fellowship we have received from Christ. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). Interpersonal conflict is visible everywhere, the Middle East, Africa, divisiveness in US politics, an increase in hate crimes against marginalized peoples, other violent crimes, and many others. However, believers endowed with the Holy Spirit can be and must be that light to spread the gospel of Jesus the Christ by allowing love in a dark world.

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove with all Thy quickening powers. Lord, we celebrate the pouring out of your Spirit upon all those that desire to accept this power. We need your Holy Spirit to once again move on the face of the earth allowing your love and unity to prevail where necessary in these cold hearts of ours. In Jesus’s name, Amen!

Reginald Johnson
Pastor, Bethel AME Church
Religious Affair Committee Member

Keywords: Pentecost, Emancipation
Scripture reading: Acts 2:1-21