"The on-going gift of the Spirit helps us spread the news and become apostles in our time and place. And that is worth celebrating!"
Why Party on Pentecost?
The Day of Pentecost is one of my favorite feast days of the Church year. Many educators, me among them, consider the day of Pentecost and the receiving of the Holy Spirit by the disciples, the “birthday of the Church.” It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for the disciples to become apostles who spread the Good News throughout the world and throughout the ages. The on-going gift of the Spirit continues to help us spread the news and become apostles in our time and place. And that is worth celebrating! Here are some simple ideas that will help you celebrate the Day of Pentecost with your congregation and church school:
1. It’s a birthday party, cake required
Some years I have done one big cake with “Happy Birthday Church of God!” written on it. Other years I have done 12 individual cakes with each month of the year on them. Have your congregation gather around the cake for the month they were born. Sing “Happy Birthday” to each other – and follow it with the singing of “I am the Church. You are the Church. We are the Church together.”
2. What’s a birthday party without presents?
As you look toward re-stocking your supply closet for the fall, get a list together of what you need - everything from diapers for the nursery to magic markers and glitter glue. Post the list in your newsletter a couple of weeks in advance and send the list home with your Church School kiddos. Ask the congregation to bring these gifts (wrapped) to the Pentecost party with the cake and have the church school children open them. Depending upon what you ask for, you can get kids wondering what you will be doing with these interesting things come fall.
3. Wear Party Clothes
This is a great day to celebrate with color – invite the congregation to wear red. Have red carnations ready for your choir, acolytes and pastors to wear. Invite the Church School to wear bright yellow or orange. The worship service will look like a sea of flame. Some years, I have invited women to wear hats, girls to wear their most sparkly shoes, men their funkiest ties and boys the brightest shoe laces they can find. Face painting is another fun way to involve the Church School during lesson time.
We can’t see the Holy Spirit, but like the wind, we can see what it does. In every congregation I have worked in, I pass out ‘Pentecost Bubbles” (Oriental Trading has them in small multi-colored bottles with crosses on top). Either during the morning class or with the grown-ups at the Pentecost party, head outside and blow bubbles. As you watch the bubbles ride the wind, shout out things the Holy Spirit is doing in your congregation or in the lives of your families. Kids come up with some really creative things! Pinwheels are also fun to us as decorations on this day or you can pass them out during the offering time and have the congregation wave them as you sing and celebrate.
None of these activities are particularly expensive, but each one brings folks closer to each other and to the work of the Holy Spirit. And it’s a lot of fun! Be sure to get pictures and post them on your summer bulletin board to remind them of the Holy Spirit’s work during the long, green Season after Pentecost.
Dr. Elizabeth L. Windsor is the Director of Christian Education at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Acton, Massachusetts. She is an accredited Godly Play storyteller. Christian formation throughout the life cycle is both her profession and her passion.
Featured image is the Pentecost altar frontal from Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England.
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