The truth is that we have a few surprises up our sleeves for this special Sunday at St. Andrew's. Unlike Christmas and Easter, Pentecost doesn't quite get as much attention out there in the world. I think that's largely because the "secular" world, our neighbors who don't identify as Christians, still celebrate Christmas and Easter. There's Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny - and all kinds of other lovely but "non-religious" customs that go along with Christmas and Easter. Pentecost is actually just as important a holiday as Christmas and Easter - even if it doesn't get picked up pop-culture.
For the last few weeks, we've listened as Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure. Over and over again, Jesus has promised to send the Spirit, the Advocate, or the Comforter. Someone who would watch over us, lead us to truth, and build up the life of the Church. This promise must have been so important to the disciples - even though they didn't quite know what Jesus meant. The idea of being without him must have been really scary - so the promise of safety, knowledge, and comfort had to sound really good.
At the coming of the Holy Spirit, we give thanks for the ways in which God continues to be present among us even though the physical form of Jesus, his flesh, is gone - ascended into heaven. The Spirit continues to give us access to Jesus - to the good news - and to the promise of peace. God among us. And with the coming of the Holy Spirit, new gifts and skills come to the apostles as well - they're able to speak new languages - and to translate the good news to people who have yet to hear the name of Jesus.
This is why we celebrate the birthday of the Church on this day - because it is on the day of Pentecost that the apostles are given the tools they need to build the Church. With the coming of the Spirit there is great joy - and also a lot of work to do; and of course, this is still true for us. Each one of us is given the Holy Spirit in our baptism - claimed as Christ's own - and sent out into the world to share the good news of Jesus. Our Baptism literally links us to this story - and to the great undertaking of building up the church of God. It's a wonderful thing to be counted among the faithful - but this day should also remind us of the power of God. Because this Spirit that comes to us at Pentecost and at our Baptism is the Spirit of God - likened to fire - and strong wind - and it is the Spirit that connects Christians one to another all over the world.
So we'll celebrate this weekend the birthday of the church - the day when God sent the Spirit to us - to guide and strengthen us in our work. And we'll remember together that this same Spirit calls us to new life - to the building of healthy and loving communities, and to the sharing of the good news not only within the four walls of our church - but out in the world - and even to the ends of the earth.