Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tardy

This is a response to an earlier post by Julie: "How did your congregation celebrate Pentecost?"

I (with the blessing of the worship committee) decided to make this Pentecost my annual sermon with clearly proselytizing content. So I prepped the congregation by preaching a 4-sermon series on evangelism, and told them way in advance that Pentecost would be invite-a-friend Sunday.

Those aren't the parts that are significant to me. They're just background.

I led a candlelight service (at the end of May). Everyone got a candle on the way in. After the sermon, I invited all present to come forward and light his or her candle from a candle held by one of the elders. When they lit their candles, they received blessings from the elders (prepared beforehand, because my elders are generally nervous about leading any part of the worship service).

Long-time members of the congregation affirmed their confession in Christ and received a blessing of affirmation.

Lapsed members confessed their intention to recommit and received a blessing of strength and will to do so.

Non-believers came forward and stated their desire to be found by the Lord, and received a blessing of new faith.

At the end of the ceremony, everyone's candle was lit, and I reminded them of the Pentecost story: that the Holy Spirit had come down on all of them by faith in Jesus. When we extinguished our candles, I framed it not as a "blowing out" but as a "spreading the light" throughout the world--our calling as disciples. (I think I may have got that idea from one of y'all. Thanks!)

Most everyone I talked to found it to be a moving worship service. I'm glad I did it. Perhaps we'll have to light more candles again at Pentecost next year.

Or maybe we can get those Burger King crowns (remember those?) and tape candles to them, then light them--"tongues of fire coming to rest on them" and all that. Maybe for a Children's Time . . .

Shalom,
em

2 comments:

KnittinPreacher said...

very very cool.

If you do the crowns I want one. I am trying to figure out if it would be appropriate to wear my tiaria to church. Only because it is pretty and sparkly, not to pronounce myself royalty. But the crown with the candles is much much cooler!

Sara & Emrys said...

But Julie--you ARE royalty! You are a princess in the kingdom of heaven. I say, Wear the tiara. Live the Revelation.

-em