Pentecost is coming. This celebration (May 15th) marks the end of the Easter season, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the infilling of Jesus’ disciples with the power to go out and change the world. Traditionally, many churches pray for the peace of our world at this time.
In a world divided by culture, race, and social strata, Pentecost is an important celebration for all of us to highlight in our churches because it also commemorates a unique multicultural gathering in which, for one moment, there was understanding across cultural and language barriers (see Acts 2:11).
As the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, the barriers of language and culture broke down, not so that everyone thought and looked the same, but so that everyone understood each other in their own language and culture. In God’s kingdom culture we don’t become an amorphous lump of homogeneity but learn to appreciate and respect our differences.
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Time to Get Creative
My own understanding of this has been greatly enriched as I have listened to sisters and brothers from other cultures. I was particularly impacted by theologian Tite Tienou from Burkina Faso, whom I heard speak several years ago. “All of us are on a journey wanting to understand who our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world are,” he said.
He then reminded us that we are all part of the same family – God’s family – and, like any family, we are called to share life together as sisters and brothers. Learning to share life with people from all over the world means listening to their viewpoints, hearing their struggles, and sharing their joys. And learning to share life in this way means walking together on a journey towards a deeper understanding of God’s truth and a stronger commitment to God’s kingdom ways.
How will your church celebrate Pentecost and help break down barriers of culture, race, and strata in your community?
[Tweet “How will your church celebrate Pentecost and help break down barriers of culture, race & strata?”] Here are a few out-of-the-box, creative ideas that might stir your imagination.
Tongues of Fire Chili Cook-off
Faith Episcopal Church in Laguna Niguel, California, celebrates after the liturgy with an annual “tongues of fire” chili cook-off. It has turned into a community-wide event, with prizes based on spice level and the like. Recipes are posted on the church website. While it’s not part of the liturgy itself, it is a creative way to use symbols in the life of the community – and it can’t help but transform a simple meal into a teachable moment.
The Biggest Birthday Party Yet
In recent years, churches in London have hosted community events that help to relay something of the ‘Good News’ message with people who may have no faith. They believe that Pentecost is an opportunity for the diverse range of churches in London to speak collaboratively into culture through art, music, fashion, film, and dance. These community events are ‘birthday parties’ that welcome one and all.
In the last couple of years, Share Jesus International has co-ordinated what is becoming the biggest birthday party yet. It encourages us to celebrate the church’s birthday and highlight its heritage, diversity, and positive contributions to society. Organizers also challenge churches to reach out to their communities through this event and provide creative opportunities for people outside the church to explore the Christian message.
Probably the easiest way to celebrate Pentecost is by bringing together people you know (or even those you don’t know) from as many cultural backgrounds as possible for an intercultural potluck celebration. Invite each person to bring food and music to share from their culture and to dress in traditional garb. If you don’t know people from other cultures, then get everyone to bring food and music from a culture other than their own.
Start the evening with a time of storytelling. Ask guests to share stories about how their faith has grown through the experiences and witness of people from other cultures. Talk about the different cultures represented in your gathering. Have people share which aspects of their culture they believe bear the fingerprints of God and reflect His kingdom culture.
Share Your Pentecost Celebrations
What are some of your creative ideas for a multicultural Pentecost celebration in your church? Let’s share our ideas and get creative for Pentecost this year.
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