"I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams." (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17)
It's that time of year again—the season of Pentecost planning is upon us. From origami doves and tissue paper flames to wind machines and multilingual services, we seek to make this special service one that will shake congregants up, give them a taste of what it must've felt like on that Shavuot day when the mighty wind came blowing through, filling those gathered with the Holy Spirit. We want them to both taste the historic blessings of Pentecost and to experience it anew in their own contexts, so that they might feel where the breath of the Spirit is blowing them next.
But despite how hard we've worked and the thought and effort that have gone into preparing for that special day, if we haven't grounded our lives together in expectation and trust that God's Spirit is always in our midst, it's easy for our celebrations to fall flat. For many of us, especially those of us raised and trained in mainline Protestant traditions, trusting in and watching for the movement of that mighty wind may not be where we excel. We tend to instead emphasize revelation through logic, exegesis, and carefully curated liturgical experiences. These are blessed and necessary gifts. But an exclusive focus on these gifts can block the way of receiving spontaneous communication from and with God. However, we needn’t fear, because there are undoubtedly people in our congregations who do excel in gifts and skill sets needed to invite in the Spirit's scandalous work, on Pentecost and beyond.
Not surprisingly, I'm speaking of the same folks Joel and Luke were—the younger and elder members of our communities. As you begin your planning for your Pentecost worship services, I invite and challenge you to incorporate these members into your planning and to think big—what visions do the children and youth have for how the parish is being called by God to live out its gospel call beyond its doors? What dreams have your eldest members been granted for how the congregation might be a blessing 10, 20, 100 years in the future? And how might your Pentecost services be a kickoff for a new phase in your church's ministry, one in which you practice searching together for where the Spirit is sending you?