Reflections on a “Pentecostal” Anniversary

Delighted to offer a shout-out to my folks, Tim and Joy Palma, who this week celebrated their 50th wedding Anniversary! It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around 50 years. I mean, that’s 5 decades. I haven’t even been alive for that long.

An example from the Bible I think helps conceptualize their marriage’s duration. Last weekend churches around the world celebrated Pentecost Sunday. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek pentekoste, meaning 50. The day of Pentecost marks the birth of the New Testament Church. According to tradition, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Jerusalem believers (depicted in Acts 2), occurred 50 days after the Resurrection, about 7 weeks, and thus churches today celebrate Pentecost on the 7th Sunday after Easter.

A pentecost (or 50th) anniversary is 50 years! That’s 18,250 days! Wow! That’s 18,250 days of lived-out love—commitment, sacrifice, starting and raising a family, partnership in ministry, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and health. The statistics suggest that fewer than 5% of marriages make it to 50 years. So, my folks are in elite company.

Their life is an encouragement to all those who have found and wedded the love of their life—like myself (I thank God for Gabrielle)—can’t imagine life without them, and are resolved to remain true to words uttered as part of a public profession in a house of worship so many years ago: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until parted by death.”

So hears to you, Mom and Dad, a living example of love and commitment. Gabrielle and I have a long ways to go but the life you’ve modeled has set the bar for us, and for so many, and so we keep pressing on.

Published by Paul J. Palma

Paul J. Palma is a professor of Christian history and theology at Regent University. He is the author of the books "Embracing Our Roots: Rediscovering the Value of Faith, Family, and Tradition," "Italian American Pentecostalism and the Struggle for Religious Identity" (Routledge Studies in Religion series), and the forthcoming "Grassroots Pentecostalism in Brazil and North America: Migrations, Missions, and Mobility" (Palgrave Macmillan). He is also a contributing writer for CBN.com. Paul enjoys spending quality time with his family on walks together, going to the beach, fishing, and work around the yard.

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