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Pentecost liturgy: Heart ablaze

18 May 2017

What Is Pentecost?  It is the great feast that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means ‘fiftieth day’ and is celebrated fifty days after Easter. Red is the liturgical colour for this time and recalls the tongues of fire in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost.  

There are three large feasts commemorated by the Church. The first two, Christmas and Easter, are well known to all, believers and non-believers alike. But it is possible that Christians are not always as familiar with the third great feast, the festival of Pentecost. The Father’s Christmas gift of His one and only Son, and Christ’s Easter triumph over the power of sin, and death would be of no use to us if the Spirit did not give us the gift of saving faith. Therefore we celebrate Pentecost with great joy and thanksgiving knowing that Jesus Christ left us with an everlasting legacy. 

Setting the scene

This paraliturgy could be run in the Chapel or in a classroom. You will need an open bible on the Table showing Acts 2, the Easter candle, tea lights (as many as there are students in the group), two bowls of water (one to float the tea lights in and two as the symbol in the Response to the reading) and a bowl of oil.

The oil and one bowl of water may be on the floor so that students can see the lights in the water and the oil will be passed around for anointing after the Gospel is read.   

Opening Prayer

Leader: We gather in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

May the Holy Spirit be with us and pour out upon us unimaginable gifts. May the Holy Spirit bless us and strengthen us. All praise to you, Holy Spirit. You were revealed to the followers of Jesus in a mighty wind, and you touched them with tongues of fire. Come, fill our hearts with your fire and wind as we now share our time together. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Gathering Song

We sing together or follow the words on Youtube. You can join in the Chorus.  

CeCe Winans's song, 'Holy Spirit Come and Fill this Place'


Holy Spirit come and fill this place

Bring us healing with your warm embrace

Show your power make your presence known

Holy Spirit come fill this place

Holy Spirit come fill this place.

John 14:15-16 'The Promise of the Holy Spirit'

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

The Gospel of the Lord

All:  Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Response to reading:

While an appropriate hymn is played eg. 'Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water', or 'Come Sacred Spirit' by Monica Brown or 'Holy Spirit of Fire' by Michael Mangan, each student will take a tea light and light it from the Easter candle and place it in the bowl of water.  This reminds us that we received the Holy Spirit at Baptism and a full release of the spirit at our Confirmation.

Three students hold up the water, the Easter Candle and the bowl of oil.   

Leader:  These symbols of water, light and oil remind us of our birth into new life at baptism, the sealing in the Holy Spirit and the light of the Risen One in our midst.

Reader 1: The presence of the Holy Spirit within is life-giving. May we be reminded of our baptism into new life. 

Reader 2: The presence of the Holy Spirit within is renewing. May we be reminded of our confirmation and the sealing with oil.  

Reader 3: The presence of the Holy Spirit within is gracing. May we be reminded of God as a companion.

Leader: Turn to the person sitting on your right, please place your right hand on that person’s shoulder and sit in silent prayer praying that during this Pentecost season we may be transformed by the gift of the Spirit who can set our hearts ablaze. 

Pause for a short moment. 

Leader:  I bless the oil in the name of the Source of all Being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit.  Please anoint the hands of the person next to you saying ‘You are a temple of the Holy Spirit’.  

When the anointing is complete:

Leader: During the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and those in the upper room. Tongues of fire appeared over them and they were filled with the Spirit. Empowered they began to boldly preach the Good News to all. 

Think of this momentous ‘first birthday’ of the Church. How about you? Are you ready to launch out boldly, like the Apostles and proclaim the Kingdom of God?

The gifts of the Spirit are: Wisdom, Understanding Knowledge, Good Judgment, Courage, Reverence and Awe (Isaiah 11:2)

All of us who have been baptised and confirmed have received these gifts. A gift is useless unless someone uses it. Pentecost is a good time to encourage ourselves to ask the Holy Spirit to help us make these gifts an important part of our lives.  

Prayer of intercession:

Leader: With confidence let us pray to the Father who left the Church with the gift of the Spirit.

Reader: Christ, you breathed upon your Apostles, giving them the Spirit for the remission of sins – send your Spirit to wash away our faults.  

All: Renew, O Lord, the face of the earth!

Reader:  Christ, you promised that the Spirit would teach us all things and remind us of what you yourself said – send your Spirit to enlighten our faith

All: Renew, O Lord, the face of the earth!

Reader: Christ, you promised to send the Spirit of truth to bear witness to you – send your Spirit to enable us to give faithful testimony.

All: Renew, O Lord, the face of the earth!

All: Holy Spirit help me to become a person of …..

Wisdom, so that I will live my life in harmony with your divine will;

Understanding, so that I will be a person of compassion;

Knowledge, so that I will be open to truth and goodness;

Good Judgment so that I will make choices that reflect your will;

Courage, so that I will be able to stand up for what is right and just;

Reverence, so that I will enter into your divine mystery;

Awe, so that I will see the beauty in all of creation.    


Final Blessing:

May the Spirit bless us …

May the face of all creation shine upon us …

the grace of life be within our soul.

May we find in the eyes of a baby the light of truth …

And in the branches of the trees, arms to hold us …

And in the warmth of sunshine be surrounded and caressed by gentle light of the moon …

May our own heartbeat accompany us into fullness of life

And as our feet meet the earth

and as the wind caresses our face

be blessed with all of creation as one with God.   




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