May 31: Pentecost edition — Family faith formation at home

Welcome 

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

For the second reading of Scripture today, invite each person to pull the text up on a computer, smart phone or tablet – or print a copy for each person – and share in the reading of the text by inviting each person to read aloud one verse before the next person reads the next verse. Continue until the whole passage is finished.  

  • How did you hear the story differently the second time?
  • Why do you think you heard it differently?

Connecting through story

Watch and listen to this traditional blessing sung in various languages in Malaysia.

  • What was the message of this song?
  • When the singers began to sing in their own languages, were you able to understand or know what they were singing? Why or why not?
  • What was the message for the church in this song?
  • Why is it especially important now?

 

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • Why do you think wind and fire were present when the church was born?
  • How was the Holy Spirit made known?
  • How did all the people who were speaking in different languages understand each other?
  • Why was it important that they understand one another?
  • Why is the church present all around the world?
  • What do you think were some of the visions and dreams God had for the church on that day of Pentecost?
  • What do you think are some of the visions and dreams God has for the church today?
  • How can the Holy Spirit, working through all of us around the world, make God’s dreams for the church a reality?
  • What has this season of the pandemic taught us about being the church?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • Today we celebrate Pentecost – 50 days after Easter – the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.
  • In the story of the Tower of Babel, everyone spoke the same language, which led to the people trying to become self-sufficient to the point of not needing God. As the story goes, God gave them different languages and scattered them. The juxtaposition of the story of the Tower of Babel and the Pentecost Story shows a people who now fully realize their absolute need of God and the divine gift of understanding so that they can come together in their devotion to Christ and work together to glorify God.
  • When the church was birthed on that first Pentecost day, it was not a building but a people empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the church.
  • The Holy Spirit didn’t take away their differences, but enabled them to understand one another.
  • Regardless of what language we speak, we can praise God together as one Body of Christ and continue to proclaim God’s continuing presence in the world today.

Invite each person to imagine “church” from their own perspective. They can draw, write a poem, write a song or use words to describe it. If they could create/recreate church, what would it look like? What would it do? Who would be present?

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.

 

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