Thursday, April 12, 2007

Looking Toward Pentecost

Pentecost is just around the corner. Well, to be more exact, it is fifty days from Easter.

Jesus appeared to his disciples for forty days. The time came for him to ascend to heaven—he commanded his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The disciples knew that the wait would not be long—Shavout, or the Feast of Weeks, was just a few days away! It was on Shavout that the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus’ followers.

All able-bodied Jews were to go to Jerusalem for Shavout. Each person was to bring two loaves of “leavened bread” as a sacrifice. The loaves were not to be placed on the alter because they had leaven in them.

Why two loaves? Could it be that the two loaves represented the Jews and the Gentiles? Could it be that God set up this specific festival with the idea that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on Jesus’ followers and that people from a multitude of nations would hear the gospel preached in their own language? Two loaves made possible through the sacrifice of Christ.

What does your church do to celebrate Pentecost? Is your Pentecost the same year after year? What could you do different this year?

Our church is “kind of” stuck in a rut when it comes to Pentecost. We have a tradition of having people wear red on Pentecost (the “red” is to represent the tongues of fire from Acts 2). Most of our long time members will wear red—few of our newer folks will wear red. We have a beautiful Pentecost banner that goes up each year. Should we keep doing those things? Good question!

We try to keep Pentecost “fresh” by trying new things. We have had multiple languages used during the service. We have used a car dealer’s gigantic fans/blown streamers (red of course) to represent the tongues of fire. We have tie red helium-filled balloons to the chairs in the sanctuary (we don’t have pews). For the past two years we have concluded the service with Spirit in the Sky by Norm Greenbaum. By changing a few words we transform this song into a “Christian” song. The congregation LOVES IT. I use an electric guitar (rather than my normal acoustic) to get the right sound for the song. Spirit in the Sky could become a rut if we are not careful!

What would happen if we gave two small loaves of bread to everyone who attended church on Pentecost? It would take a lot of work!!! It would take considerable sacrifice on the part of a few people to bake all of that bread. But just think… each person would have something tangible to take home to represent both Jews and Gentiles coming before God. Oh well, it’s a thought.

What ideas to do you have for celebrating Pentecost?


At 1:04 PM , Blogger Presbyterian Gal said...

I'd keep those things that the folks feel inspired by. Like the Norm Greenbaum. And I love the loaves of bread. That's really cool.

I can see a drama here. Maybe one with the actors sitting in the congregation. One person stands up and does the Call to Worship in a foreign language, and then someone else stands up and offers the translation for the gift of tongues. Something like that.

At 4:38 PM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

presbyterian gal,
Great ideas!



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