How are you planning to celebrate Pentecost his year? I mentioned yesterday that one of my concerns about this celebration is that often everything happens inside the church. As the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, the barriers of language and culture were broken down – not so that everyone thought and looked the same, but so that everyone understood each other in their own language and culture. In God’s new kingdom culture we don’t become an amorphous lump of homogeneity, but learn to appreciate and respect our differences.
My own understanding of this has been greatly enriched as I have listened to sisters and brothers from other cultures. I was particularly impacted by theologian Tite Tienou from Burkina Faso whom I heard speak several years ago. “All of us are on a journey wanting to understand who our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world are.” he said. He then reminded us that we are all part of the same family – God’s family – and like any family we are called to share life together as sisters and brothers. Learning to share life with people from all over the world means listening to their viewpoints, hearing their struggles and sharing their joys. And learning to share life in this way means walking together on a journey towards a deeper understanding of God’s truth and a stronger commitment to God’s kingdom ways.
Once again I have found it challenging to find out of the box creative ideas, but here are a few I have come across that might stir your imagination:
Tongues of Fire Chili Cookoff.
Faith Episcopal Church celebrates after the liturgy with an annual “tongues of fire” chili cookoff. It has turned into a community-wide event, with prizes based on spice level and the like. Recipes are posted on the church website. While it’s not part of the liturgy itself, it is a creative way to use symbols in the life of the community–and it can’t help but transform a simple meal into a teachable moment.
The Biggest Birthday Party Yet
Over recent years churches in London have hosted community events that help to relay something of the ‘Good News’ message with people who may have no faith. They believe that Pentecost is an opportunity for the diverse range of churches in London to speak collaboratively into culture through art, music, fashion, film and dance. These community events are ‘birthday parties’ that welcome one and all.
In the last couple of years Share Jesus International co-ordinated what is becoming the biggest birthday party yet. It encourages us to celebrates the church’s birthday and highlight its heritage, diversity and positive contributions to society. Organizes also challenges churches to reach out to their communities through this event and provide creative opportunities for people outside the church to explore the Christian message.
You might like to bring together people you know (or even those you don’t know) from as many cultural backgrounds as possible for an intercultural potluck celebration. Get each person to bring food and music from their culture to share and if possible to dress in traditional garb. If you don’t know people from other cultures then get everyone to bring food and music from a culture other than their own that they are familiar with.
Start the evening with a time of storytelling. Get each person to share a story about how their faith has grown through the experiences and witness of people from other cultures. Then talk about the different cultures represented in your gathering. Get each person to share which aspects of their culture they believe bear the fingerprints of God and reflect God’s kingdom culture.
So what are your creative ideas?