Pentecost has long been one of my favorite feasts in the liturgical year. Who doesn’t love a story with fire, wind, speaking in tongues, and a bold proclamation of the Gospel? Unfortunately, though, by the time Pentecost rolls around in the calendar, many of our religious education programs have ended and our creative energy switches off into summer mode. Why not instead use this exciting feast as a way to end the faith formation year with a bang?
Birthday Party for the Church
Children love birthday parties, so what better way to invite them to celebrate and understand the birthday of the Church than to throw a party? Set the mood with red, orange, and yellow tablecloths, plates, and napkins. Each child can make and wear flame party-crowns. Some activities could include pin the flame on the Apostles, tongue twisters, and opening the gifts of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wrapped boxes with the name of each gift inside, or an object to represent each gift). Make sure there is cake—the children can help the Holy Spirit blow out the candles!
Confirmation Day of Reflection
In Confirmation preparation we tell the story of Pentecost again and again, but often when the feast comes, it passes by with the students simply wondering why Father is wearing red this Sunday. Pentecost can be a perfect day of reflection for newly Confirmed students to experience mystagogy and reflect on their recent sacrament. How are they being filled with the Spirit and called to boldly proclaim the Gospel? If your parish has Confirmation in the autumn, a day of reflection on Pentecost can serve as a kick-off to summer preparation.
Family Faith Sharing
To encourage parents to share the faith with their children at home, send home a simple dinner-table talk sheet that they can use on Pentecost. This can include a brief telling of the story and reflection on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. After reading the reflection, prompt each member of the family to share which Gifts of the Spirit they see in one another. They can conclude with a prayer for the courage to proclaim the Gospel as a family using those gifts.
On Pentecost, the Apostles did not just proclaim the Good News; they proclaimed it in languages they did not even know to people who had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the world. Pentecost celebrates the diversity and unity of the global Church. Highlight the diversity of your own parish by hosting a pot-luck where people are invited to bring a dish representing their family’s ethnic origin. Hang signs saying, “Come, Holy Spirit!” in many different languages. The focus should be on our unity—that there are many parts to one Body, and many gifts but the same Spirit.
With a little creativity, Pentecost can be celebrated with the children in our programs, even when classes are over. How does your parish celebrate Pentecost?