On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon 120 disciples in an upper room, transforming their lives. They were endowed with dynamis, power from on high, in order that they could be brought into the fullness of the image and likeness of God and in order that they might become effective witnesses for Christ in an unbelieving world. On Pentecost, they began to do the impossible by the power of the Holy Spirit, and we, the Church, are a result of their work.
Pentecost is not simply an event out of Christian antiquity. It is a spiritual experience that is made available to each believer in the Sacrament of Chrismation after receiving Baptism. Bishop Kallistos Ware writes, “Chrismation is an extension of Pentecost. The same Spirit who descended visibly on the Apostles in tongues of fire now descends invisibly on the newly baptized. Through Chrismation every member of the Church becomes a prophet, and receives a share in the royal priesthood of Christ; all Christians alike, because they are chrismated, are called to act as conscious witnesses to the Truth.”
That means each one of us receives the same heavenly anointing the very moment Chrismation is administered to us. The epiphany of the Jordan was made available to the 120 at Pentecost and subsequently to every believer. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord God shall call.”
The testimony of the early Church reveals that the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit was ordinarily bestowed by the laying on of hands of the Apostles and bishops and the anointing with holy chrism. The Church teaches that through the sacraments the Christian experiences in himself the mysteries of Christ. He also, in the Church, relives symbolically and mystically the events of salvation history. Baptism, which is death and resurrection in Christ, reproduces in him the Paschal event, which is a birth to a new life “in the Spirit of holiness.”
Chrismation reproduces the event of Pentecost, the indwelling of the Spirit of prophecy, that he might fulfill his mission in the Church. The sacrament of Chrismation can be understood only in the light of the theology of the Holy Spirit. He is the gift in whom is completed the mystery of the Trinity. He is also the gift whom the Risen Lord sends to us from the Father to perfect the work of deification in us and to continue His mission of witness in the Church.
Pentecost, by no accident, occurred on the Feast of Tabernacles when the Jews were celebrating the receiving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. On each day of the week, the high priest poured water out of a golden pitcher. But, on the seventh and last day of the feast, when all the multitudes were assembled at the temple grounds, the high priest held up a golden pitcher and slowly began to pour. And while the high priest was doing this, the multitudes of people were on their knees chanting from Isaiah 12:
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.
And in that day you will say,
Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name,
Make known His deeds among the people.
Let this be known throughout the earth.
Cry aloud and shout for joy,
O inhabitant of Zion,
For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
The High Priest then tipped the golden pitcher, but no water came out, because the promised Messiah had not yet appeared. Yet at that moment, the promise of the Messiah was being poured out on mankind—on the 120 disciples in the upper room. For the Son, having ascended to the right hand of the Father, sends the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is still with us today. The Holy Spirit has been continuously present since that time, present with us to consecrate those who bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ. And He will be with us till the end of time. For the assembly of those who bear witness to the Resurrection of Christ, those elected by God, whom the Holy Spirit consecrates, is the Church.
Praying that we might experience His “mighty, rushing wind” in our own lives.