Ways to Enliven Your Pentecost Celebration

These ideas were compiled by Rev. Won Un from suggestions at the 2004 Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

  1. Have everyone wear red! (No choir robes for the choir unless the robes are red – have the choir wear red, too.)
  2. Heavy use of flags, pennants, banners, streamers, fabric or paper strips – anything that will “wave” easily. All in Red of course (or orange and yellows to – to simulate fire). In doorways, hanging from ceilings, in people’s hands, tucked in bulletins, etc. when the scripture is read from Acts and when the reader comes to the part about the Holy Spirit, have all the flags, pennants, streamers, etc. waving like crazy, so hard that you hear the sound of rushing wind.
  3. Have a banner contest that somehow portrays the the passage in Acts and the significance of Pentecost.
  4. Red (and white) Balloons! Without helium, falling out of the ceiling or down from a sheet attached to the ceiling.
  5. Attach Red and white (helium) balloons on strings to the pews.
  6. Make a rainbow the width of the sanctuary made up of balloons or tissue paper (like a float). That would create such a festive visual. If you use balloons, you could then give the children a bouquet as you take apart the rainbow, as a symbol of passing on the word or the message of Pentecost.
  7. Lots of visuals: tongues of fire, doves, use a fan to make streamers move.
  8. A birthday cake! Make sure you use a candle(s) that will not blow out – talk about the fact that the church will also not be extinguished.
  9. The Sunday worship service becomes a birthday party, send out invitations (birth announcements), have people wear red, bring out the cake during the children’s time. Even party hats, passed out with bulletins.
  10. Bring some Birthday gifts for the Church – in wrapping paper of course. Perhaps things like candles for Worship, pew bibles, etc. Then preach on the gift of new life.
  11. Have children decorate red t-shirts at an earlier date so that they can wear their Red t-shirts for Pentecost.
  12. Sing “Happy Birthday” to the church.
  13. Celebrate the anniversary of your church. Do so with some of the idea in this list.
  14. Use a red/orange parachute – perhaps have it hanging form the ceiling.
  15. As part of the message, read “Happy Birthday, Church!” by Ann Weems, from her book Reaching For Rainbows.
  16. Have several people (a few prepared beforehand) to testify about the gifts God has given them and how they have used them for ministry and spreading the gospel.
  17. Have several different people scattered throughout the congregation read the passage from Acts – make sure they have their part ahead of time, to practice!
  18. Encouarge the witness of most recent professions of faith. Let people give testimony about how the Holy Spirit has moved in their life. In fact – plan on Pentecost Sunday as a time for Baptism and Profession of Faith.
  19. Do an “Eye witness” report on Pentecost. (first person sermon or “news report”)
  20. Do a Sermon on the “Comforter”. How exciting is this? Well, maybe you could bring along some props – like pictures of doves, a real ‘comforter’, a staff, etc.
  21. Have a cook out and light sparklers.
  22. Research the history of what is called “Holy Spirit holes” in the ceilings/roofs of churches in the Middle Ages and then consider use of some visual (balloons maybe) to symbolize the falling of the Holy Spirit on the congregation. Children could lead this…maybe release Pentecost balloons from the ceiling and then each person could take one home as a reminder.
  23. Kites are great at Pentecost. Try get everyone (or just the kids) to make kites (instructions can easily be found on the Net) or purchase a number at a “dollar store” and then have a flying time after morning worship. One can speak beforehand about how the Spirit blows where it will – and how our connection to the Word combined with The Spirit lifts us up….
  24. Involve EVERYBODY! Especially, involve children!
  25. We made plans yesterday. There will be flamed shaped pieces of red netting coming down from the ceiling all over the worship space. Fans will blow on the net so it moves over the congregation’s heads. The font, draped in red, will have an artificial flame coming out of it and a ceramic “flame font” will burn a mixture of rubbing alcohol and epson salt (to produce a red flame) near the table. And of course, the cross will be draped in red (Frank Fisher, Obl OSB)
  26. Early in my ministry, I had an all-age “growing together” service in which children had cut out “doves” (outlined) from coloured sheets of paper (yellow, gold, orange). During the passing of the peace the children passed the”doves” to the congregation to share with each other. Then they collected the doves. During the offertory hymn, they pinned the doves to large banner strips that flanked each side of the worship centre (communion table). What we realised on doing this was that the doves turned into “flames”. The effect was stunning: “doves” reaching down from heaven and “flames” rising up to the skies! (John Maynard)
  27. Another idea for Pentecost that we’ve used effectively at Bensalem UMC in Pennsylvania is to have people thorughout the congregation read the Scripture from Acts, simultaneously in different languages. (Steve Gruenbaum)

    Concepts from VA Conference 2004 and as named in the text. Page design and editing by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild – Spirit Networks, 2004 please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing this material.

What if you could keep your church doors open 24/7?

What is your church’s digital strategy?

One of the most intriguing things Jesus did over and over again was meet people right where they were. Sometimes that pushed cultural boundaries, and it most definitely pushed the frontiers of first century traditions. Today, we live in a social, digital, technological, tweet-able, shareable, connected world. Our experiences and relationships play out in different ways than they once did. Their point of origin, where they gain depth, and how they form our faith are no longer confined to a physical time and place. We believe this is an asset, an opportunity, and a holy challenge for the Church today.If we all could keep our church doors open 24/7 with full access to the faith forming value that our communities have, we would do it in a heartbeat. That’s the opportunity we have by paying attention to digital strategy as a ministry reality. When we embrace digital hospitality as a first word of welcome, we meet people as Jesus did, in the spaces and places they already live and learn. We’ve moved far beyond the need for a website so people can find directions to church.

Find more information at http://vibrantfaith.org/   .

CHEWING ON GOD’S WORD WITH YOUTH

 Bubble Gum Games: Chewing on God’s Word – REPOSTED from http://www.CreativeYouthIdeas.com

This week’s lesson is centered around bubble gum. When thinking of bubble gum there are a couple of things that come to mind. First, when you unwrap it and first place it in your mouth, it’s kind of hard and not very flexible. But when you chew on it a while it becomes not only flexible, but you can then fill it with air and expand it to make huge bubbles. Chewing the bubble gum for me is a lot like meditation on God’s Word. Like bubble gum, you have to chew on God’s Word a while to get the full flavor and experience it more fully. At first it may seem kind of HARD to understand but you just need to chew on it awhile. God’s Word, unlike Bubble Gum, never loses it flavor. And once we’ve meditated or chewed on it a while, we become more flexible and useful to God. He can stretch us and fill us and use us.

Bubble Gum Games

Bubble Gum Blowing Contest – You can play this game as individuals, or with representatives from multiple teams. Give each youth 2 pieces of gum. On your signal, they must unwrap the bubble gum, chew it, and blow a large bubble. The largest bubble wins. Give the youth 60 seconds to blow their best bubble. The easiest way to time the game is to play some upbeat energetic music and then stop the music after 60 seconds as a timer. (NOTES: You might want to have a ruler for measurement. Also, if you add a little peanut butter to bubble gum you can blow even bigger bubbles. Peanut butter also works wonders for getting bubble gum out of hair.)

Bubble Gum Blow-Out – Tape a piece of paper to the wall at an easily reached height for your youth. You’ll need one for each team. On “go”, each player has to race to a table on the other side of the room to get a piece of bubble gum. They must then. They then unwrap it and start chewing it to get it flexible enough to blow a bubble. A once they blow the bubble they must stick it to the paper on the wall for their team, using only their mouth. No hands are allowed. The first team to have every member stick a bubble to the paper wins. (Note: Some brands of bubble gum are easier to stick to the paper than others)

Bubble Gum Matchup – You will want to buy several different flavors or colors of bubble gum. Give everyone about 5-10 pieces of different bubble gum flavors or different colored individually wrapped bubblegum balls. (Be sure to tell them not to eat it yet.) Tell them they have about 1 to 2 minutes to get all the same color of Bubble Gum. To do so they need to trade with other youth. The first person to trade and get all of one color wins.

Bubble Gum Swing – Youth pair up for this game, and it can be played with the entire group or a representative from each team. For each pair, tie a piece of bubble gum to a string so that when the end of the string is placed in a person’s mouth, the bubble gum is about 6 inches from the floor. One youth in each pair holds the string in his or her mouth and swings the bubble gum to their partner. The partner must catch the piece of bubble gum into their mouth while standing up straight and at no time can either person use hands. They must then chew the bubble gum as quickly as possible and blow a bubble. The first pair to do so wins, but you might want to continue the game until several more are successful.

Bubble Gum Art – Give each youth one or more pieces of bubble gum to chew, a toothpick and an index card. Allow them a few minutes to chew the bubble gum, place it on the index card and then create a sculpture of something on the index card using only the toothpick as a tool – no hands. You can either give them a specific object to sculpt or you can let them come up with their own sculpture. If you allow them free reign with their creations, give each person an opportunity to show off their creation. You can also give other youth an opportunity to guess what the sculpture is. The person with the best and most creative design, as determined by the peer group is the winner. You can have several categories of winners, like “Most ingenious,” “Most Creative,” etc.

Bubble Blow Up – Give a representative from each team a Blow Pop sucker. The first one to unwrap it, and bite into it, to the gum, and blow a bubble wins.

Bubble Gum Treasure Hunt – Young Life Twist: Bury a piece of bubble gum in plate of flour. Without using their hands, youth have to find the gum and blow a bubble. First to do so wins.

Bubble Race – First person in a pair to blow and pop ten bubbles in a row wins. Face your opponent (this is important, it means you can cheat by making your rival laugh and they won’t be able to blow a bubble) and on the count of three start blowing. Bubbles have to make a pop or they don’t count and you can’t make your bubble pop by sucking it backwards. It has to pop while it’s being blown outwards. The first one to ten wins.

TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Discussion:

  • What is your favorite kind of bubble gum? Why?
  • Why do you choose to chew bubble gum? The flavor, to blow bubbles, or simple to have something to chew on or pass the time?
  • What does it mean to chew on something?
  • What is the benefit of chewing something for a long time?

MAKE IT SPIRITUAL

* In what way is meditation in God’s Word similar to chewing gum?

In many of these games, we rushed to chew the gum quickly so that we could simply blow a bubble. We didn’t take it slowly or take time to enjoy it and fully experience the flavor, but we simply chewed it just enough to get something done. Unfortunately this is the same way many of us treat our Bible reading. We read just enough to get the job done, but we don’t really meditate on it or take time to really enjoy it. In the Bible, we are often commanded to meditate on scripture. We are also told to taste and see that God is good.

* When given a piece of gum, do you quickly chew it and swallow it, or do you chew it for a while and enjoy it? What is your favorite food? Have you ever chewed your favorite food very slowly so that you can taste every nuance of the flavor and truly enjoy it? This is a lot like meditation.

MAKE IT PRACTICAL

Meditate means to take your time to think long and hard about something, to focus on something or someone in order to get the most out of it. What are some ways we can meditate on scripture?

Here three of my favorites: Look up key words in the verse in an English Dictionary. How does the full meaning of the words expand your understanding of the scripture? Read a verse emphasizing a different word each time. For example, John 3:16 FOR God so loved the World…. For GOD so loved the world…. For God SO loved the world… For God so LOVED the world…. ETC… How does each emphasis bring more depth to the meaning of the verse? 3. Read it in various translations.

MAKE IT PERSONAL

  • Make sure you have a personal Bible reading plan or devotional book you use to mediate on scriptures.
  • Set aside some time each day to meditate on Scripture.
  • Keep a journal of your insights as you meditate on God’s Word each day.

SCRIPTURES

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?”

John 16:12 – “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.”

Hebrews 5:12 – “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”

1 Peter 2:2 – “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,”

Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Psalm 1:1-6 – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; ”

Psalm 119:9-11 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Read more: http://www.creativeyouthideas.com/resources/game-ideas/chewing-on-gods-word-a-bubble-gum-object-lesson/#ixzz3YXxGratd

PRESENTING BIBLES TO CHILDREN – MAKE IT INTERGENERATIONAL

Reposted from Building Faith web site.

Many churches present Bibles to young people, but this church brings older adults, parents, and children together for an intergenerational process. Children hear from older adults about why the Bible is important to them, and then receive a bookmark filled with favorite Bible verses.

The Gift of Scripture
As God’s people, we value the scriptures greatly and desire for children to grow in understanding and use of the scriptures as they grow. Our parish is committed to this happening, and the entire congregation can participate! At Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Newington, NH we use the following methods of helping to meaningfully hand the scriptures into the hands of the younger generations.

Bibles for each Age Group
Infants through younger children receive an age appropriate story bible. The pictures are bright and attractive. We use a Spark Story Bible from Augsburg Fortress as it also contains suggestions of how to discuss the stories, and we encourage parents, grandparents, or faith adults to read the Bible their children.

Third graders receive a more demanding Student Bible.  For this group, the presentation process is a bit more in depth – see below.

High School graduates are presented with a study Bible that can be used in college.  This bible has favorite bible verses highlighted by members of the congregation.

An Intergenerational Bible Presentation Process
The following is the process we use for giving Bibles to third graders.

1. A group of older adults prepares to lead a session 
The older adults are prepared with answers to the following questions: What are your first memories of the Bible?  Who introduced the Bible to you?  What has the Bible meant to you through the years?  Why is the Bible important in your life now?  What would you want new bible readers to know about the Bible?

2. Bible bookmarks are made
The same older adult group turns in their favorite bible verse or verses.  These are compiled onto a bookmark which is laminated.

3. An intergenerational session with adults, children, and accompanying parents
The session takes place, facilitated by an adult leader (pastor, family minister, or other adult). The setting is arranged so that it is a circle with all ages mixed together.

• The facilitator leads the time with prayer to gather, then begins asking the older adults the questions they have been prepared (What are your first memories of the Bible? etc).  The facilitator keeps things moving along and sometimes will recap key insights.

• The children are then asked what their favorites things are about the Bible. Beyond this the facilitator can ask the children what questions they have about the Bible.

• The favorite verses are then looked up together and read.  The children may be able to read some of these.

• The session closes in prayer.

4. Bibles are presented on Sunday
The very next Sunday in worship we formally present the bibles. The special bookmarks are also presented, with the older adult bible mentors giving the bookmarks to each child.girl with Bible child

If the children are Sunday School participants, the children may create a bookmark of their favorite verses as a gift back to the older adults.


The Rev. Richard Rhoades is the tenth pastor to serve Holy Trinity. “PR” holds a B.S. in Genetics from The Ohio State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio. He and his wife Corinne live in Somersworth with their two dogs.

Building Faith –

http://www.buildfaith.org/2015/04/13/presenting-bibles-to-children-make-it-intergenerational/

Holy Week at Home: Family Practices

Holy Week at Home: Family Practices

soft wood cross

“Holy Week is a time of Holy Waiting. We know we have something precious and beautiful, but we cannot yet see the completed picture. And so we must wait.”

 http://www.buildfaith.org/2015/03/30/holy-week-at-home-family-practices-for-the-triduum/    

Holy Week at Home
Many of us long to make Holy Week (the days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday) more meaningful for our families. We want more than waiting to put on our fancy new clothes, gorging on candy, and stressing about creating the perfect Pinterest-worthy tablescape. But where do we start? And how do we make time in what is already a busy week?

Here are a few ideas for families of all sizes and ages to connect to the Triduum with a just a few minutes each evening. If you find that three nights of activities are too many, don’t worry! Pick the one activity that resonates the most with you and start there.

Maundy Thursday – We Prepare
Stripping of the Icons (all ages) 15-20 minutes
Materials: Bible or Prayer Book, storage box or bin, dark cloth, cleaning supplies

Stripping of the altar (removing all ornaments, linens, candles, plants, flowers, etc.) is an ancient custom of the Church. Congregations mark the way Christ’s life was stripped from him by stripping the altar of all signs of life and beauty during a special service This almost-bare worship space reminds us of the bareness of life without the hope of Christ that we have through His resurrection.

This beautiful and powerful ceremony can also be practiced in the home, as our homes are also places of worship.

• Read Psalm 22 together (or just the first two verses, if attention spans are short).

• Explain the ancient custom of removing religious items, what it symbolizes, and how your family will now do a similar activity – focusing on symbols of your faith.

• Send your family through the house to gather all religious symbols that can be easily moved (crosses, statues, candles, prayer beads, Bibles, etc.). Ask everyone to work silently as a sign of respect for the task. Pack these items away in the storage bins.

• Use the dark cloth to drape any other items that are too large or permanent to pack away (wall art, door wreaths, Easter Tree and so forth.)

• Finally, remove all items from your dining or kitchen table and together wash the table thoroughly.

• Leave the table bare until Easter morning.

• After all the icons have been packed away or covered, and the table has been washed, take a moment to notice how your home looks and feels. Help kids make the connection between a home without these beautiful and meaningful items and a life without Christ.

Saturday night, after everyone is in bed, do your best to unpack and uncover all of the religious items, so that when the family wakes up on Easter morning there will be more than just Easter baskets to celebrate!

Other Ideas for a Family Maundy Thursday:
Family Foot Washing – Jesus washed the feet of his friends as an act of love, service, and preparation. Take turns washing one another’s feet as an act of love and service, in preparation for the journey you will take from Maundy Thursday to Easter morning.

Good Friday – We Enter In
Technology Darkness (all ages) 12-24 hours

Good Friday church services often end in total darkness, leaving worshipers to imagine their lives in the wake of the dark hours after Christ’s crucifixion. While functioning as a family in total darkness might not be practical, there is a way to practice living in darkness: go dark with your technology.

•  “Unplug” from noon on Good Friday until noon on Holy Saturday.

•  Turn off (and put away!) all cell phones, tablets, game consoles, televisions, radios and computers for twenty-four hours.

•  Reflect together on how disjointed, disconnected, lost, anxious, helpless or frustrated each family member feels without their devices. On that first Good Friday, many lives were turned upside down by Christ’s death: Mary, Martha, James, John, Peter, Andrew, just to name a few…For these people and the other followers of Christ, Good Friday was more than just sad. It was a day of feeling anxious, lost, disconnected, frustrated, and helpless.

•  Ask questions: How different would our worlds be if the Story of God had stopped on Good Friday? What would life be like if grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness were not available to us?

Easter_002

Make a Paschal Candle
All ages, 15-3o minutes, supplies depend on version chosen.

In churches, a new Paschal Candle is lit either at the Great Easter Vigil or on Easter morning. It represents Christ and the light His resurrection brings to the world. Traditionally, the candle is lit and place in a prominent place near the altar, where it remains lit from Easter until the end of the Easter season. The candle is then moved away from the altar and is lit again on baptisms and at funerals as a resurrection symbol.

On Good Friday, while your kids are unplugged, gather everyone together to make a family Paschal candle. You can follow these directions to create a traditional version or use this idea from my book to make an easier, less formal candle.

• Set this candle in a place of prominence in your home, such as the kitchen table, where it will be noticed and remembered daily.

• Light the candle first on Easter Day, and then during meals, special events, and times of prayer. The lighting of the candle can become part of the evening dinner routine, by asking family members to take turns lighting it.

• This is a tactile way to remind ourselves to seek Christ daily. To help your children understand the significance, you can repeat the words, “Come Jesus, come” as you light the candle.

This act of inviting Christ into your home solidifies the idea that we do welcome Him, and He joins us, even in the most simple of daily activities, such as breakfast or dinner.

Holy Saturday – We Wait
Wax Crayon Eggs, ages 3 -10, 30 minutes to 1 hour
At least 1 dozen boiled eggs, Easter-Egg Dye Kits, Wax or White Crayons

In my family we all love to dye Easter eggs, even the grown-ups. We’ve tried many different techniques, but the one that requires the most faith, despite its simplicity, is the wax crayon method. Even as you decorate your eggs, you can’t see what the finished design will look like.

Holy Saturday is like wax crayon eggs. It is a day of waiting. We know we have something precious and beautiful, but we cannot yet see what the completed picture is. And so we must wait, as Mary waited, and the disciples waited.

• Use a pale-colored wax crayon and draw or write on your egg. The only evidence that you have done anything will be bits of wax clumped on your egg’s smooth surface.

• Dye your egg according to package directions.

• Wait. Wait some more. (If you are at my Maw’s house, you will probably get up, get another cup of coffee and go stare into the soup pot, willing dinner to cook a little faster.) Eventually, enough time passes to go back to your egg dye.

• Pull your egg out of the dye. Those invisible wax images are now clearly white, surrounded by brilliant egg dye. There is a the flower you drew, imperfect but lovely. There is the name you wrote, a little wobbly but still your name.

eggs 2

Holy Saturday brings us, at last, to glorious rekindling of the Light of the World and the Paschal Candle. Careful activities during this holy pause have prepared us to share Christ’s Light with one another and the world! Alleluia, indeed!


Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, nest-fluffer, novice farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. She is also the Minister to Children, Youth, and Families at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons on a little farm in Shady Grove, Arkansas. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life For more information on Jerusalem’s Faith @ Home workshops or to read about faith-filled daily living, visit her blog

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