The Blessing of Pentecost
On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), St. Luke tells us that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles was accompanied by wondrous signs which included the sound of a mighty, rushing wind (Acts 2:2). He reports that this wind came from heaven.
To ancient speakers of Hebrew and Greek there was an understanding of the relationship of spirit and spoken words. For them “spirit” was "air”, and "breath”, and the life-power in breathing and speaking. Speaking makes use of air and breath, and uses them to form and carry the words from the speaker to the hearer.
We recall how Jesus spoke the Spirit to His disciples on Easter evening (John 20:22). He charged them with the apostolic ministry of preaching the Gospel. By the power of Holy Spirit, they were given authority to forgive sins. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit and granted them peace. At Jesus’ Ascension, He commanded the apostles to stay in the city of Jerusalem, and gave His promise that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them
While there was just one Day of Pentecost–which the church does not expect to be repeated in all its signs and wonders (rather, we commemorate it fifty days after Easter)–the Holy Spirit is poured out on each believer individually with the gift of faith. This happens at Baptism (Acts 2:38), and also in the context of the Divine Service where the Means of Salvation are administered. There the Word is spoken and attached to visible elements.
We receive the Holy Spirit repeatedly because He is a person and cannot be possessed. Like all good gifts of God, the Spirit is given to us daily and in rich measure, but also just as we have need.
The Spirit can also be driven away by ungodliness and unrepentance. King David knew this and in the context of repenting of terrible sin prayed that the Lord would take not His Holy Spirit from Him (Psalm 51:11). The Church repeatedly prays for the Holy Spirit to be present, to rule hearts and minds, and to sanctify (make holy) the people of God. The Holy Spirit forgives our sins. He keeps us in the true faith.
When the Pentecost crowd that was gathered in Jerusalem heard the rushing wind they were attracted to the apostles. From them they heard of the mighty works of God done through Jesus Christ in intelligible languages. Each heard in his own language. There wasn’t any gibberish or need for translating. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).
As at the Beginning, when by the Word and the Spirit God Created all things and brought order out of chaos and blessing, so also now by the Word and Spirit, our Lord offers peace and forgiveness, and blesses and preserves His Church. Little wonder Christians have sung for more than a millennium, “Veni, Creator Spiritus𠄼ome, Holy Ghost Creator blest!”