by Christine Sine
The day of Pentecost is May 23rd this year and it is rapidly approaching. Each year I like to update my resource list with new and fresh ideas. I also like to write a new prayer periodically that captures something of my own response to the day. The prayer above is from 2015 but has been the most popular of my Pentecost prayers. Here is my prayer from 2016.
As you can imagine my resource list grows longer each year. Enjoy this year’s update, share it with your friends and let me know if you have other creative ideas that should be added to the list.
What We Celebrate:
- The coming of the Holy Spirit and the infilling of Jesus’ disciples with the power to go out and change the world
- The great multi cultural gathering that we catch a glimpse of as we watch the spirit fall and suddenly everyone is able to understand each other – not all speaking the same language but able to understand each other in their own languages. Acts 2:11.
- Pentecost is traditionally the time that many churches pray for the peace of our world in which at times there seems to be so little cross cultural understanding.
So what kinds of resources do we need?
- First, I think we need to provide our congregations with resources that help them see Jesus from other cultural perspectives. In a visual society like ours, art is one very powerful way to do this. The image by the Chinese artist He Qi is one of my favorites though I have included a number of images by different artists throughout this post to help you catch a glimpse of different cultural perspectives, too.
- Liturgy is another powerful tool because as we read the words aloud that resonate deep within our souls and take root. Here is one I wrote several years ago that is still my favorite.
- Creativity should also be a large part of our observances – this is a time to think out of the box, to stir our imaginations and get inspired with ideas that can change the world. Last year I posted some of the most creative ideas I have come across in Let’s Get Creative with Pentecost. I particularly love the chili cookout!
This festival is known by several names in the Old Testament: the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), which represents the first fruits (Numbers 28:26) gathered as the result of the labour of those who completed the spring grain harvests in ancient Israel (Exodus 23:16).
It is also called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), derived from the seven weeks plus one day (50 days in all) counted to determine when to celebrate this festival (Leviticus 23:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, which was written in Greek, this festival is known as Pentecost (Pentekostos in the original), which means “fiftieth” (W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words , 1985, “Pentecost”). See The Feast of Pentecost for more information.
One practice for the feast of Pentecost was for the priest to wave two loaves of bread in the temple before God in thanksgiving for the early harvest. Though the Jews did not see the symbolism, the two loaves represented two groups of people God planned to harvest for His kingdom: His chosen people the Jews and everyone else called the Gentiles. This Sunday, for lunch after church or for dinner that night, you might buy two loaves of bread to imitate the original practice. Give thanks that God’s gift of redemption is for all who are willing to receive it. (From Ideas for Celebrating Pentecost)
Paul Neeley at Global Christian Worship has an excellent array of articles, liturgies and songs for pentecost. Here are some of my favorites:
- Pentecost: True Spiritual Unity and Fellowship in The Holy Spirit
- 10 Global Pictures & Prayers for Pentecost
- Pictures & Prayers of Pentecost
- Women at Pentecost
- ‘Pentecost’ by Shadow Play Puppets
- African Pentekoste by Frombach & Lantz
- Gina Tuck – ‘Hymn to the Holy Spirit
- Pentecost Songs: An Entire Album! from Cardiphonia
Celebrating Pentecost at Home/with Kids
- The United Methodist Church shares a list of possible ways to celebrate at home.
- Catholic Culture offers an activity for celebrating the “Birthday of the Church” as well as “personal Pentecost” at Confirmation.
- Make Pentecost fire sticks: instructions found here.
- Celebrating with kids? Check out these ideas from EverThineHome.com and GrowChristians.org
- Busted Halo shares other ideas that can be done at home!
- “You Shall Be My Witnesses” – Pentecost Service by Reformed Worship
- More clever at home ways to celebrate from Celebrating Holidays.
- Engageworship put together this music playlist of ideas for your service at home.
To get yourself in the mood watch this wonderful video from Africa – it immediately took me back to some of the beautiful worship services I attended in Ghana, Togo and Cote d’Ivore when I worked on the Mercy Ship Anastasis
Another of Paul Neeley’s links was to this beautiful song by Keith and Kristyn Getty but I loved it so much I wanted to incorporate it in the list.
I also a produced a video several years ago to help myself catch a glimpse of this multicultural image of Jesus.
From Australia & New Zealand
- The Billabong has a great list of ideas for Pentecost. I particularly love this suggestion Kites for Pentecost.
- Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources offers prayers and affirmations.
- STRANDZ has a great resource list for Pentecost for kids and adults alike – great for at home!
- From Bosco Peters in New Zealand – a reflection and service.
- Matt Stone at Curious Christian still has the best collection of art from different cultural contexts.
- And one of my favourites from Steve Taylor – a kiwi who now lives in Australia.
From South Africa
- Sacredise.com always produces wonderful resources.
- Jonny Baker always provides great resources in his worship tricks. You check out the general list for pentecost here.
- I particularly like this link to a Pentecost meditation by Mark Berry.
- And I love these pentecost prayers and this liturgy with a Celtic flavour by John Birch
- And if you are looking for some fun food ideas for the day check these out.
- Christine Longhurst at re:Worship also lists hymns, readings, prayers and liturgies for the season.
- The Text This Week has some of the most comprehensive resource lists around. Their Pentecost list is well worth visiting.
- From Lent and Beyond is an Episcopal site with more great resources. I was particularly appreciative of their link to this site for celebrating Pentecost with kids.
- And a great Pentecost liturgy from Work of the People.
- Another good list is Resources from the Calvin Institute.
- And for a short meditation I enjoyed this video by Franklyn Shaefer:
Or, if you are looking for an introduction to the season for kids this is hard to beat:
Or, this from Busted Halo:
I have written several other pentecost prayers in the past but the following litany is probably my favourite:
God, the light of your Spirit has fallen upon us,
The seal of your ownership is on us,
You have placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Like tongues of fire it has renewed and restored.
In our rising and our sleeping,
In our working and our playing,
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Your Spirit’s brightness has dispelled the darkness,
In our loving and caring,
In our touching and our listening,
In our thoughts and in our actions,
God’s Spirit has brought life out of death.
Read the entire prayer here: A Prayer for Pentecost: