This coming Sunday – June 4 – is Pentecost. It is the grand finale to the miracle of the resurrection – an end that is truly a beginning. Christ has been raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and the Triune God has come to dwell within us (!) in the person of the Holy Spirit. Through the gift of God we are made into the church, living stones praising God through our whole lives.
There’s plenty there to meditate on (and grow into) for a lifetime. And it’s definitely worth celebrating at home. Here are five ideas for your family – including a mix of fast, simple and elaborate ways to keep the feast:
1. Fast and simple: put something red on the table (or wherever you spend family time).
Seriously. When my kids were little, I observed the seasons of the liturgical year by putting a few round placemats in the color of the season at the center of the dining room table.
I am not a decorating guru. Sometimes the round placemats were the sum total of the centerpiece. But it added something – a small, uncomplicated something – to the rhythm of our lives. Napkins could work too – or candles. There are plenty of red decorations in the stores these days as the rest of the world thinks ahead to the Fourth of July.
2. Simple family tradition: hang your windchimes on Pentecost.
I’ve never had windchimes, but if I did, I would hang them on Pentecost and enjoy them through the season of Ordinary Time.
3. Simple but important: learn about Pentecost yourself, so you can talk about it with family and friends.
This post from Building Faith has a great summary of the meaning of this feast. Here’s the takeaway that means the most to me:
Before that moment, the apostles were a group of followers who had listened to Jesus and assisted in his ministry. But without Jesus, they were aimless and confused. That all changed on Pentecost.
After the Holy Spirit entered the room, and after Peter preached, the apostles no longer looked inward. Filled with the Holy Spirit – the spirit of Jesus – they looked out and forward as ministers.
That means all of us… including at home.
4. Make a liturgical craft project.
From the Grow Christians archives, Heather Sleightholm’s Pentecost learning/craft project:
We got a large piece of watercolor paper, taped it firmly to a board (you could also just tape it to the table) got the whole paper wet, and then dropped dollops of water color onto the sheet. The result, once dry, was a bright and beautiful rainbow of colors.
We made a simple drawing of a dove shape and then cut several doves out of the paper, and on each dove, we wrote the words ‘love’, ‘peace,’ and ‘hope’ in different languages. The concept behind this is that The Holy Spirit came down and gave the Apostles the ability to spread The Good News in languages from around the world.
The kids enjoyed looking up these words in any language Google Translate would give us (Greek! Hawaiian! Norwegian!) and it was a little mini lesson in language as well as an art project.
A hole punch in each dove and a piece of thread tied to the window later, and our doves were flying free and spreading the gospel in all the tongues we could think of.
I think this is so beautiful! And what a great reminder of the meaning of the feast. Read more about it here.
5. Make something good to eat together.
You can make a salad that evokes the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are qualities every family needs!
Or you could take a sweeter route and make strawberry shortcakes… an upside-down strawberry looks a lot like a flame, and the whiteness of whipped cream evokes the traditional “Whitsunday” name for this feast. Even young children can assemble their own if given the component parts: a sweet biscuit/scone/cake, whipped cream, and sliced strawberries. (Strawberry jam/sauce is optional.)
I haven’t made strawberry shortcake in a long time, but this might be our family’s treat next Sunday.
I’m thinking ahead to Pentecost because the week will go by before we know it. It seems like the entire Easter season – 50 days! – went in a flash.
I’d love to see your pictures and ideas for Pentecost at home: you’re warmly invited to share them on our Facebook page and build the Grow Christians community. What will you do for Pentecost? Anything?
How do you celebrate Pentecost at home?