Pentecost Sunday is both an end and a beginning. It’s not only the culmination of the season of Easter, it also represents the dawn of a new day in the life of the church. Just as believers are empowered by the Spirit, the message of the risen Lord is trumpeted around the world.
In the early church, Pentecost was the end of Eastertide (as in the Jewish calendar from Passover to the Feast of Weeks). In the modern era, Pentecost has received greater attention because of the renewed emphasis on the Holy Spirit, especially in charismatic and holiness communities.
Like each of the great events of the church year, the focus of Pentecost is not to relive a historical event, but to yield ourselves to God and to be drawn deeper into the graces He has already bestowed on us. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the church 2,000 years ago, but the prayer of our human spirit each day is “purify me and fill me yet more.”
In fact, Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the church. Next to Easter, this should be one of the most exciting days in the life of every believer. The major emphasis is the power of the Holy Spirit, sent forth to produce holy, living, and anointed ministry. Here are seven ways to make Pentecost Sunday memorable and meaningful.
- Preparation: This is a day when all the stops are pulled out. Banners, drama, dance, special music – whatever is appropriate for your congregation, worship environment, and tradition – should be coordinated in a major celebration of our life and purposes as the church of Jesus Christ.
- Before the Service: Just as the disciples waited in the Upper Room, the people should come into a quiet sanctuary and wait upon the Holy Spirit. This is a good time for all worshipers to reexamine their calling before the Lord, asking themselves questions about their personal work and mission.
- The Music: The hymns and choruses should be especially focused around the power and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Whether your worship is traditional, contemporary, or blended, there are innumerable selections to help facilitate the extraordinary importance of the celebration.
- The Prayers: The prayers should focus on the church’s mission. A large map could be placed on a table in the front of the sanctuary. During prayer time, representatives from the different sections of the community could be seated around the table, laying their hands on their particular part of town. This time of prayer invites the Holy Spirit to stir up our gifts and ministries for the harvest field where we have been placed.
- The Sermon: Since the power of Pentecost resides in each believer through the Holy Spirit, the preaching should be a benchmark for the church year. This power is a necessity for the church, not an option. The message should be followed with an opportunity to yield and allow the Holy Spirit to be released in each person’s life. Some suggested passages for the message are Psalm 104:25–35, Joel 2:28–32, John 7:37–39, Acts 2:1–11, and 1 Corinthians 12:4–13.
- After the Sermon: At the end of the message, an invitation can be given for those who sense a call to full-time Christian service, setting them apart by prayer and public confession to pursue the possibilities of a life in vocational ministry.
- Communion: Communion on Pentecost Sunday should reflect the great joy of the church in receiving the Holy Spirit. While Communion is being administered, sing songs of the Holy Spirit and of the power of the Spirit. This is also a great time to administer the laying on of hands with the anointing of oil.