The Day of Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost, also called Whitsunday, celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It occurs 50 days after Easter. In the biblical account, the first Christian Pentecost occurred at the time of the Jewish festival of Pentecost or Shavot, which was a celebration of the giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai and of the harvest, and which was held 50 days after Passover.
According to the account in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts of the Apostles, after his resurrection, Jesus remained with the disciples for a while, before “leaving.” Luke portrays his departure very concretely, as an ascension up into the sky to be with God. However, this did not mean that God had left the Christians on their own. God’s presence on earth with them now took the form of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts has a colourful description of the coming of the Holy Spirit, dancing above people like tongues of flame and enabling miraculous communication. In the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about the Spirit as the helper or advocate, present with the disciples after Jesus has departed, who will teach and recall Jesus’s teaching (14:26).
In the logo of the UCA, the Spirit is symbolized as a dove with wings of flame. In the logo for Scots Church, she is a bird hovering over the city drawing it to herself, with her wings open to embrace the city.
Trinity Sunday. Traditional Christianity describes God as a “Trinity,” that is, a oneness combined with a threeness: one essence, but three persons. In practical terms, it is an attempt to explain how something that we experience in three different ways (Creator, Christ, Holy Spirit) is also a unity, with each part equal to the others. The doctrine of the Trinity is not explained in the New Testament, but hinted at in places such as Matthew 28:19. Formulation of the doctrine took centuries. The Council of Nicaea in 325 is usually cited as the pivotal point in its acceptance. However, discussion about the doctrine has never ended, and each age contains Christians who attempt to reformulate it in contemporary terms, as well as some who reject it.
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
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