From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing
Across the Presbytery, Congregations gathering for worship last Sunday celebrated the festival of Pentecost. This is one of the high points in the calendar of the church year, remembering the coming of the Spirit, the gifting of disciples with the ability to communicate the good news to people from all over the world. It is the day when we Mark “the birthday of the church” across the world.
In the Eurobodalla Congregation, banners and flags were displayed as members marched into the church in high celebratory style.
At Canberra City Uniting Church, the creativity of the festival was highlighted. Paul Chalson had arranged for three artists to explain the work that they had done in creating pieces of art that expressed the creative work of the Spirit: Amanda Watts from Jesmond Park, Subramaniam Sukumar (Kumar) from City Church, and Rod Pattenden from Adamstown). The banners crated by Kumar are currently on display in the worship space at City Church.
At Tuggeranong Uniting Church, the building was filled with bursts of colourful red and yellow decorations, with families seated around tables to share together in craft activities. Many regular attenders and many newcomers who had responded to the special invitation to attend sat together, sang stirring Spirit songs, heard Elizabeth Raine talk about the drama of Pentecost, and enjoyed the dramatic presentations offered by the Tuggeranong Girls Brigade and members of the Congregation.
A special feature was a set of ingredients that were placed home-made lava lamp on each table. At the appropriate time in the service, a mixture of vinegar and red colouring was added to a glass with bicarbonate of soda mixed in cooking oil—and, voilà, bubbles formed and rose to the surface as a dramatic demonstration of how the spirit energise and empowers!
For Pentecost Sunday in the Eden Uniting Church, a series of questions were posed, about God, Life, Jesus, and the Spirit, culminating in the affirmation that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-2). Michael Palmer concluded with the words: “This our Pentecost challenge. This is our Pentecost aspiration.”
At Wesley Church, Forrest, families gather regularly with a focus on significant days on the church calendar. On Pentecost Sunday families gathered at the Narrabundah manse to engage in afternoon of deep fellowship. Pastor Jules Wright organised activities for the children that prompted questions relating to the two themes of Pentecost—fire and wind.
First the children worked together to build and light a fire using flint! They then toasted marshmallows with tongues of fire, melted choc chips in hot milk and experienced the power of wind by using an air cannon to extinguish candle flames and created wind together with a large red table cloth. Meanwhile the parents warmed their mouths with jalapeño cornbread provided to by a family from Texas.
In the morning service on Pentecost Sunday, members of the Congregation had waved colourful flags in the story and as prayers of praise. People wrote prayers for the world singing come Holy Spirit and then hung the flags to wave our prayers for the world.
In the afternoon at Collector, Daniel Mossfield read the story of Pentecost (Acts 2) in Spanish and then English, before reflecting on the importance of valuing other people by speaking in their language and engaging with them in ways that acknowledge their practices. The occasion fulfilled the word of the prophet, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh”. Members of the Life and Witness Consultation Team recently established by Presbytery were present for the service and the discussion that followed.
Sapphire Coast Congregation arrived to find a Welcome Greeting in seven languages on each of their seats. They held a hymnfest, singing many of the congregation's favourites (ably led by Corinne Nicolson at the organ), and had a seven-voice liturgy of the Spirit. People danced and threw streamers in celebration of the day! Jean Shannon was in her element.
At Gungahlin, a small but dedicated crew played throughout the evening as they decorated the space with colour and red velvet cakes with icing. The group played with balloons, wore flames on our heads, shared the story “The Day When God Made The Church,” sang songs, ate red velvet cakes and worshipped together.
They heard stories of the Holy Spirit in many languages and pondered the question posed by Pastor Darren Wright: “If you had a moment where everyone could hear what you said in their own language, what would you use that moment to share? What is the gospel you would proclaim?”
It’s great to see the range of creativity and energy that was on display in these, and other, services of worship around our region. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the planning and implementation of these services.