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pentecostAll across the world, Christians will celebrate Pentecost on June 8th, exactly 50 days (7 weeks) after Easter. Not all Christians recognize the holiday, but many do. Pentecost (which comes from the Greek word for ’50’) commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit to early followers of Jesus (for this reason it is often thought of as the ‘Birthday of the Church’). The name comes from an expression in Leviticus 23:16, which instructs people to count seven weeks or “fifty days” from the end of Passover to the beginning of Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. This day is significant for Christians because seven weeks after the resurrection of Jesus (at the time of Passover), during the celebration of Shavuot, the Book of Acts records that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the first followers: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them the ability to speak” (2:4). The languages were heard by thousands of pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot.

At some point, Peter stood up and preached his first sermon. He urged the crowd to turn their lives around and be baptized in the name of Jesus so that they, too, would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:37-39).