Pentecost is a day on the Christian calendar that almost commands all your senses to wake up and celebrate! “Pentecost is our day to celebrate the ‘birthday’ of the Church,” said Marcia McFee. In 2019, Pentecost is June 9th.
Pentecost is the occasion of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ and recognizes when the church was established. It occurs 50 days after Easter Sunday and falls on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks”. The English word “Pentecost” is a translation of the Greek word pentekostos, which means “fifty”.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.Acts 2:1-4, NRSV
“We can draw so much rich symbolism from this passage: the community gathered together, a violent wind from heaven, tongues of fire,” McFee continued. “For dramatic arts, what about giving out feathers to represent the Holy Spirit like a dove? Or use tea lights to echo the tongues of fire? Or music that reflects on ‘holy fire’ and the movement of the Holy Spirit?”
Grace Cox-Johnson is a nationally-known visual artist from Kansas City, Missouri., whose work has been featured at the United Methodist General Conference. She said Pentecost is a unique day of celebration in the church because it is for the church and not so much for those outside the church.
“The church’s job is to draw people to Christ,” she said. “But Pentecost is maybe the one day that is about the people already in the church. Most colors in the church are cool and calm. “But Pentecost is different. Pentecost is about wind and fire. We use red, hot pink, fuchsia and orange. There is so much passion in these colors.”
Cox-Johnson is convinced that involving all the senses in worship makes for a more inclusive and meaningful experience for worshippers.
For Pentecost, she said, “Do practical things. Anything that has to do with wind — fans, pinwheels, kites, helium balloons. Nothing is more vibrant than the thought of the Holy Spirit moving like a mighty wind.
The Rev. Todd Pick, pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Gholson, Texas is an accomplished artist. He said when you read about Pentecost in Scripture, you see that it was a passionate, visual, sensory-filled experience for the people there. He believes today’s worshippers can have a similar experience.
“Pentecost has always been a holy day of celebration and drama,” he said. “Cathedrals in Italy were known to drop rose petals through secret openings in the ceiling to simulate descending tongues of fire. There is such richness in something so simple that is so impactful.”