The Feast of Pentecost is upon us!
On May 31, the Church observes the Feast of Pentecost. It is a great feast, a grand day, and one full of joy and anticipation!
While social distancing may change the look of some of our celebrations, nothing can stop the Holy Spirit from transforming our lives and the life of the Church. This year, there are lots of ways to catch that Pentecost Spirit at Saint Mark’s! Read on for some suggestions... As always, engage with any or all of these practices as you wish or are able. You are very much encouraged to make them your own, adapting them as makes sense in your life and your circumstances right now. And please contact the cathedral, in whatever way is convenient for you, to share your feelings and experiences.
What is Pentecost?
Pentecost is one of the Major Feasts of the church year. We celebrate and give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we remember how God speaks to humanity through every human language, we renew our Baptismal vows, and we mark "the birthday of the Church"—the moment when the small band of confused disciples became, through the grace of God, the kernel of global movement to transform the world. Pentecost is also an inflection point in the rhythm of our liturgical year, marking the end of our 50-day celebration of Easter and the turn towards the "long green growing season" of the so-called "Ordinary Time" of the summer.
1. Preparing your home altar before next Sunday
First, prepare your home altar home altar for this new season. You might redress it colors fitting of the day—reds, oranges, yellows—and consider placing symbols of Baptism and the Holy Spirit. Include something that reminds you of your own baptism like or other symbols for the promises made at baptism, such as your baptismal certificate, a Bible, BCP, bread, or prayer beads. A candle brings to mind the flames of the Spirit—and if you happen to have the candle presented to you at your Baptism available, bring it out! Other images of the Holy Spirit include: birds, wind, water, oil, fruit, and more. A cross and flowers are always appropriate adornments. Think creatively about how the Divine Spirit might best be represented to you! In addition, place a small bowl of water and a fragrant branch of your favorite herb to be used during the Sunday liturgy. Please take a picture of your Pentecost altar and share it for the community to see, either on Facebook or by emailing them to email@example.com.
2. Prayerfully reflect on the Baptismal Covenant
The promises we made (or were made on our behalf) at our Baptism, and which we renew at each Baptismal liturgy during the year, articulate the core of what it means to follow Christ. Before the Pentecost celebration, you are invited to take a moment to read through them—they may be found in our Book of Common Prayer, p. 304, or at this link. What is one promise you feel called to practice with intention at this moment? Write it down; then on Sunday place that note on your altar during the Offertory.
During the week leading up to Pentecost, keep an eye out for more videos and ideas, here on the cathedral website or on social media. (UPDATE 5/28: Check out Dean Steve's video reflection, featuring voices from the community.)
3. Participate from home on Sunday morning
For many years, people of Saint Mark's have enjoyed wearing red to church on Pentecost—particularly for the sake of seeing the whole congregation in red. Put on your favorite red outfit before the service begins, and, if you are so inclined, take a picture and send it in to the cathedral——either on Facebook or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll put the photos we receive together into a collage.
Join the livestream a few minutes early (about 10:45 a.m.) for another special slide show. The Holy Eucharist with Renewal of Baptismal Vows begins at 11 a.m. Have your water and herbs ready to use during the service. The service will contain some special elements. Listen with care to the readings, and offer your voice along so many others as we sing and pray and give thanks to God!
4. On Sunday afternoon, take your celebration outdoors
For many years, a Pentecost tradition at Saint Mark's has been, following the Sunday service, to "run, ride, or roll" around Green Lake, wearing festive red clothes and with bikes and scooters festooned with red ribbons and streamers. The event would conclude with root beer floats. This type of celebration is not possible at this time, but why not recreate it in miniature, alone or with your household? Decorate your favorite mode of transport and take your celebrations outside! Ride, run, or stroll through your neighborhood. Decorate your yard or balcony. Notice the feel of the wind and the sun. Enjoy festive cake and floats. How might you give thanks to the Living God in new ways that reflect how God is moving in your life? And don't forget to take pictures and share them on Facebook or email them to email@example.com.