In Jerusalem at the time of Jewish festival of Pentecost or First Fruits, the Holy Spirit came to Jesus' disciples as they waited prayerfully in response to Jesus' command. (Pente- comes from the Greek word for 'fifty', as the festival was fifty days after Passover and thus, for Christians, fifty days after Easter.)
Jesus had died, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven. His followers were afraid and unsure of their future. But Jesus had commanded them to wait in Jerusalem until they received 'power from on high'. As he promised, the Holy Spirit came, to comfort, guide and empower them — and us.
The Holy Spirit gives diverse gifts of spiritual ability and ministry. The Bible also tells us of 'fruits' of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, which grow in us as we respond to God's Spirit.
Pentecost is celebrated as the beginning of the church. From that day, Jesus' disciples began boldly to preach and teach the good news about Jesus — at first in Jerusalem and its surrounds, and then throughout the known world.
Tongues of fire appeared on the disciples' heads as the Holy Spirit came, and they began to speak in many new languages. At St Philip's, we wear red on Pentecost Day, to celebrate this fire of the Spirit. We also read parts of the Pentecost story from Acts chapter 2 in some of the many languages known to our members.