Luminarias for Pentecost

This article is from Issue 43 of “On The Move,” a publication of “new learning possibilities for churches”, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced with permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.

by Dennis Ryle

The Lyons (A.C.T.) Church of Christ glowed with ‘tongues of flame’ as the three Canberra Churches of Christ combined to celebrate Pentecost last year.The light was provided by hundreds of home-made candles placed inside paper bags which magnified the flame. It was the adaptation of a Mexican Christmas custom called ‘luminarias’.

The young people of the churches had spent several weeks preparing the candles for the display. On the afternoon of the event, cloudy skies and several showers were shrugged off and the young people went ahead and outlined the church and grounds with the ‘luminarias’.

The effect was spectacular as the congregations gathered for a fellowship meal followed by a service. Several passers-by dropped in to see what was happening and stayed. It was a celebration and witness event to be remembered.

The idea was brought back from the visit of one of our members to El Paso, Texas, where the Mexican concept is used in Christmas celebrations. Fire bans prevented us from using the idea at Christmas, so we adapted it for Pentecost.

Our goal was to make1,000 candles from donated wax. It was simply a matter of melting the wax, pouring it into empty yoghurt or cream containers and suspending a wick cord in the liquid wax in each container with a pop stick. A long and laborious process! Household candles will be used next tune, although these will not have the advantage of the wide, stable bases of our home-made ones.

Paper bags must be flat-bottomed and can be of any size proportional to the candles. They are weighted with sand and the candle is buried in the sand in such a way that the naked flame will be in the centre of the bag. Only two of our bags caught fire, and our ‘watchers’ were quick to put them out. It’s advisable to make sure your fire insurance is up to date though!

Dennis Ryle is minister with the Canberra Churches of Christ.

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