The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


May 13, 2008

Did you celebrate Pentecost?

Hank Arends’ column in Oregon’s Statemen’s Journal is titled “Pentecost is widely unacknowledged.”

He noted that Don Shaw of John Knox Presbyterian Church, Keizer, once asked some who weren’t active church attendees to “identify the three major Christian holidays.” After Christmas and Easter, Thanksgiving or Lent came in the third.

Shaw believes Pentecost—the birthday of the church—fell into “disfavor” for a time because the Spirit is “unpredictable” and “a bit confusing.” He continued: “Because the Spirit does not always act ‘decently and in order,’ the church went through a period when it barely acknowledged the existence of the Holy Spirit—to its great loss.”

Is that period of “barely acknowledged” over? I’ve always attended churches where it was celebrated—people were asked to wear red, the Gospel lesson was read in different languages, etc. But a scan through both Chicago papers seems to show Pentecost doesn’t get much notice. The Chicago Sun-Times published a photo of Cardinal Francis George after a special Mother’s Day mass. Pentecost wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the paper. I found one mention of a Pentecost celebration (a Lutheran church) in the Chicago Tribune’s religion notes.

Did your church celebrate Pentecost? Why or why not? Why do you think others don’t celebrate it?

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