Wednesday, April 23, 2008

happy birthday

After our celebrations of Easter and Passover we turn in the month of May to the secular holidays of Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

But the liturgical calendar continues. Mother’s Day this year falls on the same Sunday as Christian Pentecost. 50 days after Easter and 10 days after Jesus’ “ascension” into Heaven, the disciples gathered to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. There, the Holy Spirit descended upon them giving them the “gift of tongues” the ability to preach the Gospel in all the languages of the Roman Empire and thus spread the new Christian faith. The modern Pentecostal churches, a movement that began in downtown Los Angeles in 1906, are characterized by manifesting gifts of the spirit in similar ways. Pentecost celebrates the birth of the church, the disciples taking up the spirit and mission of Jesus.

Jewish Shavuot comes 50 days after the Passover celebration and marks the day that Moses delivered the 10 Commandments to the Jews wandering in the Sinai. This is also a birth for Judaism, the creation of the covenant that will define Jewish identity for centuries to follow.

And of course it is no coincidence that both the Jewish and Christian “birthday” celebrations come in spring when the whole landscape around us testifies to the explosive power of new life and creation. Enjoy.

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