Pentecost 2020 comes to us as the world continues to deal with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In this special United Methodist Communications production, set in the ever-increasingly common virtual world, a small group examines the meaning of Pentecost and the good news that we are not alone.
Diane: Looks like we’re almost ready to start. We’re just waiting on Sophia.
While we wait, how’s everybody doing?
Alan: I still can’t get used to having our small group meetings over Zoom.
Chris: Just glad we don’t have to wear masks.
Derrick: You know, I’ve noticed something else different. I find myself getting excited about things I used to take for granted. Something ordinary feels thrilling… ordi-thrilling maybe?
I mean, like this meeting. I’m not wild about having to do it over Zoom, but it’s really amazing to see all of you.
Sophia: Hi everyone! It’s so good to see your faces.
All share greetings.
Derrick: Hey Sophia!
Diane: How are you?
Sophia: Doing well, thanks.
Diane: We were just sharing about how we’re coping through the pandemic.
Alan: And Derrick was just telling us about ordi-thrilling moments.
I think I’ve had those too.
Derrick: Yeah, it’s like I’m seeing things differently.
Sophia: That’s actually along the lines of what we’ll be talking about today. Do you mind if we dive right in?
Diane: No. Let’s get started.
Sophia: So as I shared with you earlier when I sent the readings out this week, today is Pentecost. It's an important but lesser-known holiday in the church.
After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples must have been scared or at least very confused. Would they be the next people arrested? Would they be tried and, perhaps, even executed?
On this day, they got back together.
I’m hearing the opening words of the story very differently this year than I have in years past.
Would someone like to read Acts chapter 2 verse 1?
Diane: I’ve got it. (Reading) “When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place.”
Derrick: That makes it sound like Pentecost was already a holiday.
Sophia: It was definitely a popular celebration. People came to Jerusalem from all over the world to commemorate the giving of the Torah.
Chris: So there’s this celebration and everybody is getting together?
Anybody think this was just a big excuse to gather?
Diane: Hey, like us, they probably just wanted to get back to normal after being home so long.
Derrick: You know, I keep hearing people say “back to normal,” but what’s normal? You can’t go through something like a global pandemic and expect everything to go back to the way things were before—as if nothing ever happened.
Alan: Yeah, these weeks of social distancing have reminded me of how connected we are to one another. We miss being together.
Sophia: And I think that’s one of the themes of this story that I’m really feeling this year. Maybe you are too. Being together. The story starts when the disciples were all together in one place. Then something extraordinary happened.
Chris: I know this part. There was a wind and then there was fire!
Keely: Looks like someone remembered that we were talking about Pentecost tonight and maybe read ahead.
Alan: Hold on for a sec. Can we talk about this? I always struggle with the Holy Spirit thing.
Derrick: Yeah Alan, I’m so glad you said that. Me too.
Diane: Well, I like to think about the Holy Spirit as the presence of God among us every day.
Derrick: You know, Diane, that’s really good to hear. During these past few weeks, I’ve been alone. I’ve been pretty alone, actually. It’s just me and my dog.
Except for these online chats, I have very little human contact.
Keely: And it’s like a different kind of lonely. I imagine what a deserted island might feel like.
Chris: Derrick, area we talking like talking-to-Wilson-the-volleyball kind of lonely or to Winston-the-Chihuahua kind of lonely?
Derrick: I haven’t been talking to a volleyball, but to Winston, yeah…
Sophia: Jesus actually addresses those feelings of loneliness that we're probably all experiencing. In the gospel of John, for example, after telling the disciples He wouldn't be with them much longer, He then comforts them saying, (reading) “I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever."
Derrick: Wow. You know, it’s comforting to know it’s not just me and Winston. That the Holy Spirit's here too.
Chris: What does that mean then for the wind and the fire!
Derrick: Thankfully, there hasn’t been any fire here.
Keely: If you keep reading this chapter—I got into it this afternoon—it ends with 3,000 people being baptized. As they became the church, it says they worshiped together, studied together, ate together and took care of one another.
Sophia: Yes. Isn’t that a beautiful image? At Pentecost we remember that the Holy Spirit is our companion when we’re apart, and encourages us to be there together for one another—to be the church.
Chris: Keely, you did say that they ate together. Right?
Keely: Yeah, I did.
Diane: Well, did everybody remember to bring their snacks to the call?
All show their snacks.
Chris: I've got enough to share!
Sophia: So, friends, what ordi-thrilling moments have you had this week?
Keely: Well, we could say my graduation this May wasn’t what I expected….
The video was published on May 22, 2020.
Pentecost may be one of our lesser-known holy days, but it is an important one. This special visitation of the Holy Spirit initiated what would become the church and was catalyst that led the disciples out of Jerusalem to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
For answers to questions about Pentecost, see “What is Pentecost?” on UMC.org.
Bible Text: Acts 2
What ordi-thrilling moments have you experienced during the pandemic?
- Some ideas: baking, crafts, puzzles, games, sidewalk chalk murals, goofy television shows, and more.
Before Sophia arrives, members of the group chat about things they’ve struggled to get used to, like masks and virtual meetings.
- What has been difficult for you to get used to?
- Are there things you are doing differently that you are enjoying?
The group relates to the disciples being “home” for a long period of time. It’s interesting to note that the word quarantine, comes from the Italian word for 40 and the word Pentecost, means 50th in Greek (the holiday occurs on the fiftieth day after Passover).
- What is one thing you are looking forward to doing with others when the restrictions are lifted and we are allowed to be “together in one place” again? Church? Friends? Movies? Shopping?
- What do you think will be different?
The Holy Spirit comes to the disciples with “a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind” and “what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them.”
- What are some ways you’ve experienced the Holy Spirit in your life?
Derrick talks about feeling alone during the pandemic.
- Can you relate? Have you ever felt lonely?
- How do you know that God is with you?
Sophia says that Pentecost reminds us that “the Holy Spirit is our companion when we’re apart, and encourages us to be there for one another—to be the church.”
- What does she mean by that?
- How can we be the church for one another?