It’s almost Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the church. Fifty days after Easter, ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven, we remember the day that the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’s disciples, setting their hearts ablaze and turning their lives upside-down. There they sat, trying to figure out what they were supposed to do next, now that Jesus had truly left them, when a rushing wind filled the room. Tongues of fire danced above their heads, and they were given the sudden ability to speak in other languages—apparently it was such a scene that some onlookers thought the disciples were drunk, at 9 am. This is how the church comes into being. What a story!

Pentecost in our tradition is a time for baptisms and renewing our baptismal covenant. Often the lesson from Acts is read in other languages, we wear red, we might munch on birthday cupcakes (red velvet), strawberries, and watermelon. Pinwheels, or wooden rings with red ribbons are a delightful addition to children’s worship bags, and afterwards outside, people can blow bubbles, or fly kites. It is a glorious day, and then we all go back to our busy lives. That’s exactly what is supposed to happen. The church isn’t a building; it never has been—it’s the people of God, filled with the Holy Spirit given to us in baptism, going out into the world, bringing light to dark places, mending and making, healing and helping, one conversation or small act of love at a time.

Here are two great children’s books, Pentecost: The Day When God Made Church by Rebecca McLeod Hutto, and Breathe: A Child’s Guide to Ascension, Pentecost, and the Growing Time by Laura Alary.

The 2017 Pentecost sermon from womanist theologian and Episcopal priest the Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney is soul-stirring.

Watch this excellent short video about Pentecost.

If you are celebrating Pentecost at home, read my post about that.

Wendy Claire Barrie is the author of Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents

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