Not so long ago, faithful people across North America celebrated Jesus’ very public, triumphal entry into Jerusalem from the privacy of their own homes. Across social media, pictures and stories emerged celebrating believers who marked the day with palm branch displays on their windowsills, driveway palm parades, and online sharing of art, music, prayer, and praise.

Only a small leap of imagination reveals parallels between people’s COVID19-induced, month-long lockdown today and that of Jesus’ followers some 50 days after his triumphal ride, his Passion, and his Resurrection. In Acts Chapter 2, Jesus’ followers are holed up inside a house, fearful about the future.  Into that experience of isolation and anxiety comes God’s Holy Spirit, rushing in, firing up the believers, and igniting a movement that would change the world.

Today, believers are holed up in their homes, and church leaders are struggling to keep their communities connected and growing in faith. Pastors and educators are looking for fresh ways to reach out and link people with resources and experiences that inspire faithful living. Rather than drawing people into church buildings, the new challenge is to support faith formation at home.

The first century Pentecost experience is a perfect reminder that there is great power in home-based faith formation. Twenty-first century church leaders can delve this biblical story and find within it guidance for how to shape content and experiences that will keep their communities connected with God, with each other, and with their neighbors.

Pentecost is . . .

A Story to Tell:  Through emails, snail mail, websites, and social media posts, encourage members to read the Pentecost story from scripture. Provide links to online images and music that tell the Pentecost story in picture and song. Offer them the opportunity to shape and tell their own stories as they relate to this biblical story. Share member responses in words and art to the question, “When and how have you been inspired to live more boldly?”

A Story of Wind:  Remind members that Pentecost is a time to experience ruach, God’s breath, God’s wind flowing through our lives. Send members out onto their balconies or porches to blow bubbles and watch them fly. Send them out as witnesses to the good news by filling their window-boxes or front yards with pinwheels.

A Story of Fire:  Remind members that Pentecost is a time to experience illuminating fire. Invite members to read the biblical story by firelight, whether that light comes from a single candle, a living room hearth, or a backyard bonfire. Encourage them to stay seated around that flame to discuss how they can each provide light and hope to others during the dark days of this pandemic.

Pentecost was, and is, a day for bold resolve and defiant joy in the face of darkness and despair.  It seems like the perfect day for all believers to boldly do what is usually reserved for children only . . . go outside and engage in joyful play with a pinwheel!

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Dr. Grace Yeuell

Dr. Grace C. Yeuell is the Religious Education Program Director with the United States Army, Installation Management Command- Europe Directorate.