We Christians have entered the season of Pentecost, which began this past Sunday. Pentecost comes on the 50th day after Easter and coincides with the Jewish celebration of Shavuot. Shavuot is a two-day celebration of the giving of the Torah (the Law of God) to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. It is not that the Jewish people did not already know the requirements contained in the Ten Commandments or even keep them before Moses ascended Mount Sinai. After all, scripture records that Abraham kept the law of God and thereby was found righteous. A period of nearly 750 years passed before Moses received the Ten Commandments on the mountain. Then the people of Israel continued serving and obeying God, even in their exile in Egypt.
So why have we as Christians placed Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, at the same time as the Jewish celebration of Shavuot? I believe the answer lies in the Jewish understanding that though the people knew the law, it was veiled to them until Moses met God on the mountain and the law became more than simply rules. It became a way of life, a way of living out God in their lives. The writers of the New Testament and in particular Luke understood that like Moses’ experience at Sinai, the disciples had also experienced the coming of God’s presence into the world.
Just as the law became a living reality in Moses and the people of Israel, we as Christians must experience Christ becoming a living reality in us. The presence of Holy Spirit transforms us just as surely as Torah transformed the people of Israel. The Spirit binds us together and makes us a people, a holy nation, God’s own beloved. May God pour out the Spirit on us as we are transformed as a people and a church to be the presence of God in the world. For God knows that that Presence is needed now as much as it was when Moses met God on Mount Sinai and those early disciples met the Spirit of the living God in that upper room.