Pentecost is a season of senses—everything is alive and there is an air of mystery that can be visually and physically shared with the congregation. Pentecost is brimming with sights and sounds we can use in our worship as we recount the amazing events of the first Pentecost and reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in the world.
As a part of our church’s “Pentecost Project,” I created a large center backdrop to hang in front using muslin fabric and acrylic paints. The image “Breath of God” portrays God breathing life back into the world. On each side of the center hanging were strips of orange and yellow shaded fabrics representative of the flames of Pentecost. Greens and backlighting added to the visual imagery.
During the opening litany (see sidebar), a procession of young people carried the primary symbols associated with Pentecost down the sanctuary’s center aisle. A pitcher of water was audibly poured into the font as a waterscape began to bubble. Wind was represented by the sounds of a wind chime. As the wind chime arrived in the chancel, two small fans were turned on, causing the strips of orange and yellow fabric to sway gently. A single white pillar candle was lit to represent the fire. These visual symbols remained in front for the rest of the worship service.
At the conclusion of the opening liturgy—both spoken and sung, the adult voice choir and the liturgical dance choir presented the Ken Medema anthem “Come Build a Church” (Hope GC964). During the singing of this anthem, dancers waved 12-foot ribbons representing the Holy Spirit’s presence; the young people in the congregation were given ribbons to use at strategic points in the anthem.
Pentecost is truly is the perfect time to get everyone involved in the worship service and breathe in a new experience.
The following litany was read as the symbols of Pentecost were carried down the central aisle to the front of the church.
Reader 1 (Water): In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the waters.
Reader 2 (Wind): The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
Reader 3 (Fire): I baptize you with water; but one more powerful than I is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.