Sparklers and a Big Red Rose

The articles made available here come from “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.

Celebrating Pentecost at Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide,
SPARKLERS and a big red rose

by Pat Baker

The 9:30 (contemporary worship) congregation at Pilgrim Church celebrated Pentecost 1977 in a way that actively involved people of all ages. The Sunday before, we invited everyone to bring to the service “something which symbolises the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit”. School holidays were just beginning, and we particularly suggested that the children might like to work on symbols for the service.

As people arrived for the Pentecost service, those who had brought symbols were sent to the back of the church to form a procession.

The service began with a leader proclaiming:
We have celebrated Christ crucified and risen…
We have celebrated Christ ascended to God…
We celebrate now the gift of the Spirit.
Today is the day of Pent ecost.
To which the people responded:
Alleluia! Amen!

Music and sound which suggested the fire and rushing wind of the New Testament story introduced the reading of Acts 2:1-11. Then came a most impressive procession, both solemn and joyous, with people of all ages bearing their symbols of the Holy Spirit.

What a range of symbols we had! There were abstract paintings, balloons, a beautiful red rose, an ice candle, sprays of green leaves, even a bellows decorated with red and orange crepe paper.

The bearers of the symbols processed down the long centre aisle and place their symbols on the communion table. A couple of hymns and a psalm later, those who had brought symbols were invited to say something about them.

The balloons were to remind us of the Holy Spirit as wind or breath. The green leaves spoke of the new life that had come to the church with the Holy Spirit. The red rose symbolised this new life also, blossoming into a thing of great beauty—and it was red because this was
the liturgical colour for Pentecost. The ice candle was red, too, glowing warmly. The fire was inside, but the light showed through. The bellows made wind, and their red and orange streamers reminded us of the fire as well.
The leaders summed it up:
Through wind and fire the Holy Spirit comes… Spirit of Power… Spirit of Life…
moving.., disturbing… bright.., and glowing…
Spirit of Joy… Spirit of Love… gently forgiving…
touch of peace… source of new growth… whispering, loving and bringing together a diverse people waiting with hope.
Urging… driving.., the human family into the world to create and unite.
Giving the Power…
from the heart of creation… The Power of Christ…
Spirit of Holiness…

Later in the service, the members of the congregation stood for the prayers of intercession, holding hands. At the conclusion of the prayers, the leaders said:
Spirit of Power… Spirit of Life… Spirit of Joy… Spirit of Love… passing on power to us where we are!
They squeezed the hands of the people on either side of them and, like an electric current, the “power” passed from person to person.

Later again the people brought their offerings to the communion table to the strains of joyful music. As the children came they were handed sparklers to light from the candles on the table.

We remained standing around the table for the sending out. One of the leaders spoke:
The Holy Spirit—Spirit of God—offering you power to live and love. Lift up your arms—ready to receive.
We raised our arms, and the final song sent us into the world.

Leave a Reply