Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Preparing for Pentecost

Hard to believe but Pentecost will be upon us soon.  I've written about Pentecost before (my favorite posts are here, here, and here) and probably will again.  Pentecost has often been an overlooked or downplayed holiday, which is a shame.  It should be one of the Church's biggest holidays, second only to Easter--yes, I'd say it's even more important than Christmas.

I wrote an article for The Lutheran about why Pentecost makes mainstream Protestants nervous (speaking in tongues, lack of control, a mission that's huge).  Perhaps that's why we don't get hyped up for Pentecost.  Or maybe it's because we don't know how to decorate for the holiday, the way we do for Christmas.  It's great to change the paraments to red.  But we could do so much more.

At a Create in Me retreat one year, we experimented with silks.  We painted flame shapes onto long lengths of silk, and at our worship service, a group processed with the silks.  As they moved their arms, the silks rose and fell beautifully. 

For years, I've wanted to make flame shapes out of filmy fabrics and hang them throughout the sanctuary.  I've had a vision of them moving as the AC system sent air across the room.

I even bought some fabric, but never created the flames.  Instead, I made a collage like this:

Or fabric art like this:

At our Synod Assembly, I got a different idea, one that might work.  We had a service that included the Rite of Ordination, which meant the paraments were red.  Part of the procession included long sticks with red and gold streamers attached.

I loved seeing them in motion. 

At the end, we heard a shattering sound:  the stick had come into contact with the ornate chandelier.  My spouse leaned over and said, "Most raucous service on record for a Lutheran group."  It seemed a great metaphor for the Holy Spirit set loose in the land.

A smaller version seems like a great way to involve children in the service.  What kid doesn't like streamers and waving them around?  Or maybe that was just me as a kid (and as an adult, if I'm being honest).

There are so many possibilities.  I was reminded of all the impressionist approaches to flame when I explored Pastor Joelle's Pinterest site:  an inspiring collection of images!

We've still got time to plan, since Pentecost is May 27.  Yes, it may be too late for some things, and some may be forever out of reach, given our buildings.  But fabric and ribbon can be cheap.  Red flowers and candles don't require much creative skill.  Fans can create wind.

I am ready for a breath of new life.  I would love to see a sanctuary transformed to remind me of that possibility!  And happily, my church has a pastor who is thinking along the same lines.


rbarenblat said...

On my festival calendar, the 50th day after Passover begins is Shavuot, the "feast of weeks," when we celebrate the revelation of Torah at Sinai. Midrash says that we were all there to encounter that revelation, and that each person heard it in the language s/he understood best.

Imagine my delight a few years ago when a visitor taught a lesson, at our late-night/all-night Shavuot Torah study party, on the passage from Acts which describes the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and the disciples speaking in tongues and being understood! It's now one of my favorite areas of overlap between our two scriptures and two traditions.

I look forward to hearing about how you beautify Pentecost this year.

Kristin said...

I'm late to say thank you for your comment. I love these connections between our festivals. I didn't know about this particular connection until your comment--thank you so much for sharing!