What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus after his Ascension, held fifty days after Easter. (It is also the name of the Jewish festival of Shavuot that celebrates the spring harvest.) This year that date is June 4, 2017.
The name comes form the old English pentecosten that is based on the Greek pentekoste, which means “fiftieth day.”
The term, used in the New Testament, refers to the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), shortly after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. Christians came to understand the meaning of Pentecost in terms of the gift of the Spirit. The Pentecost event was the fulfillment of a promise that Jesus gave concerning the giving of an “advocate”, a “comforter”, a “counselor”, which is his Holy Spirit.
The speaking in different tongues exemplified by the apostles and those who heard them preaching is interpreted by some to be the only true proof that one has received that Holy Spirit. In our mainline tradition, the story in the Acts of the Apostles is a symbol of the church's mandate from Jesus to preach to the whole world.
The celebration of Pentecost emphasizes that the Holy Spirit helps the Church understand itself as the body of Christ now drawn together and given life, and members sent out into the world.
The Day of Pentecost is one of the seven principal feasts of the church year in the Episcopal Church (BCP, p. 15). The Day of Pentecost is identified by the BCP as one of the feasts that is "especially appropriate" for baptism (p. 312).
Why do we wear red?
The clergy wear RED vestments on Pentecost to signify the work of the Spirit. It is also a custom in many churches for the people in the congregation to wear RED as well. We wear RED to remind us that we too, like the Apostles at the first Pentecost, are “on fire” with the power of the Holy Spirt to bring Good News to our world.