Friday, May 18, 2007

Pentecost-Trinity Sunday

On Sunday, May 27th, we celebrate Pentecost, also called Trinity Sunday. It is the church's birthday, everyone! Pentecost is celebrated every year, 50 days after Pascha. On this day we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This event occurred on a Jewish feast called Pentecost and is seen as fulfilling the revelation of the Trinity.

Readings: Acts 2:1-11; John 7:37-52, 8:12

For the Little Ones: Parents, it's time to throw a birthday party. The Eastern Rite Orthodox Liturgical colors for Pentecost are green, the symbolic color of the Holy Spirit, life and the wood of the cross(Western churches wear red on Pentecost). It is an old custom to decorate the churches (and homes) with lots and lots of greenery.

Now there are many rich symbols that can be utilized on this day and explained more and more in depth as your children grow. In some Catholic churches, a dove (real or a model) would literally be lowered down as trumpets sounded or choirs mimicked the sound of rustling wind, and as the dove descended, red rose petals would be strewn to symbolize the tongues of flame. In your party decorations, try to include some of these aspects. I like the idea of suspending a carved wooden dove over the dining table, but you can also cut out paper doves and hang those. Also, scatter some rose petals on the table and light some candles. And maybe, if you have such music, play some trumpet music in the background.

And what else? Bake a birthday cake!!! Use fruit filling or bake a fruit pie to represent the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Read the story of Pentecost in Acts prior to cutting the cake and sing "God grant you many years" to the church.

Finally, no birthday party is complete without presents. But these presents have a special twist. Give your children tiny gifts to symbolize the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I would suggest picking one fruit (or two) each year to focus on. For example, you might pick 'Generosity' and give your children little packets with things to give to a homeless person (like a hygiene kit). Or you might, for older children, choose self-control. Give them a favorite candy and if they can manage not to eat it for a week, then tell them they will get another candy. The gifts can be more light-hearted and fun too! You might give your child a gift and explain that it is for a kindness they performed earlier in the week, or for their patience during a certain event. Regardless, use this as an opportunity to explain some of the virtues/fruits of the Holy Spirit.

***Note: With all of these ideas I present for activities to commemorate feasts and fasts throughout the church year, the idea is for these activities to be used to teach your children about the feasts, the fasts, etc...about God!!! The activities are a tool to engage your child so that they might learn about the Truth in a fun and creative way.

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