We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Pentecost, an Ancient Festival

Pentecost meaning

Pentecost was the second of the three great annual festivals of Israel, the others being Passover and the feast of Tabernacles. The festival was often called the feast of Weeks  because it took place seven complete weeks, or 50 days, after the Passover. Jews from all   over the world came to Jerusalem for this festival, more than for any other. The day  was one of solemn convocation when no work was to be done. The people offered the first loaves of fine flour made from the justharvested late grain crops. Other sacrifices were offered in the temple and a meal was prepared with freewill offerings from the people. To this meal the widows, orphans, the poor and the stranger were invited.   

On this festive day, in the year of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the apostles. In Acts, Luke describes the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the sight of tongues of flame resting on the head of each apostle. What a transformation took place in these men and women! They were truly “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:29). Out into the crowd they went, boldly proclaiming the “mighty works of God”  (Acts 2:11). One of the gifts of the Spirit— the gift of tongues—enabled the polyglot crowd to hear the apostles speaking, each in his or her own language.  

Peter, no longer afraid, boldly proclaimed the event to be a fulfillment of the promise of God made through the prophet Joel: “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh… whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall  be saved.” Acts 2:17a, 21). Then he preached the first Christian sermon, witnessing to the resurrection of the Messiah “this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). From the crowd of Jews and converts, three thousand heard his message, were baptized, and became followers of Jesus.

Acts, which is often called the gospel of the Holy Spirit, is full of stories that show the power of the Holy Spirit working in the early Church. It was the Spirit who gave life to the early Church; that same Spirit gives life to us in these latter days.

Pentecost is a time of renewal for Christian believers. Through studying the story of Pentecost, many seek and pray for spiritual gifts for the church during this time of holy celebration. There is a renewed focus on evangelism, empowerment from the Holy Spirit, deeper intimacy with God, and fellowship. For Christians, the celebration of Pentecost imparts faith, hope, a sharing of community, and an awareness of a purpose much greater than ourselves.