This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. It is also time for a birthday party—with red cake!
Who’s birthday is it? And why red cake?
It is the birthday of the church! The church is another year older. (But who is counting after close to 2,000 years.) We also call this day “Pentecost” because the event that marked the start of the Christian church coincided with the Jewish festival of Pentecost.
What was this church-starting event, and why red cake?
The “event” was the coming of God’s promised helper or advocate, the Holy Spirit. Fifty days had passed since Jesus had been resurrected after the first Easter. Jesus’ followers were gathered together in Jerusalem, in the “Upper Room”—allegedly the same spot where the Last Supper had occurred. Jesus had told them, prior to his ascension to heaven, to wait in the city for the Holy Spirit. (Read about it in Acts 1:4).
Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. Acts 2:2-4
Fiery tongues? That sounds scary! Is that why the red cake?
Yep, the color red is associated with Pentecost as it illustrates the “fiery” nature of this event. As frightening as it sounds, it likely was not scary for the original participants. Strange and mysterious? Yes!
The writer of Acts says that the Spirit looked like tongues of fire and sounded like wind. I’ll bet it was hard to describe! Regardless of how it looked or sounded, the early followers of Jesus were lit “on-fire” as they felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news about Jesus.
So what does this mean for us today, besides some red cake?
Celebrations serve as reminders. God offers us the Holy Spirit. We may not sport flames but we can rest assurcd in the knowledge that God is with us, helping us to become disciples of Jesus and to do his work in the world.
Enjoy some red cake while you discuss Pentecost with your family!