Pentecost and Pride with Bubbles and Fire

Bubbles in Pilgrims Sanctuary
Bubbles in Pilgrims Sanctuary

Pilgrims worship planning team gathered in May to brainstorm for our Pride and Pentecost service on June 8th.

First, we set the context of Pride and Pentecost, creating 2 columns with the headings "Pride" and "Pentecost."

We made of list of what is Pride: celebration, color, playfulness, spontaneity, public, coming out, identity, risk, community, sub-communities, parade, Festival.....

Then Pentecost: celebration, color, risk, identity, public, Empire, coming out, community....

Lots and lots of connections with Pride and Pentecost.

Our brainstorming Pilgrims narrowed in on the beginning and the end of worship.

The beginning of worship came down to two words: bubble machine.

The end of worship came down to two more words: fire pit.

The bubble machine came into fruition as we talked through the opening litany and telling of the Pentecost story. What if we had a bubble machine up in the choir loft turned on when the "Holy Spirit" came into the Pentecost story? YES.

We talked a lot about identities and what Pride/Pentecost means for being "out" with who we are as individuals but as a community.  We wanted to do something as part of communion to name our who we were, who we are now, and who we hope to become and burn identities in our fire pit to symbolize refining and releasing those identities into the cosmos and Spirit.

So, after we welcomed 1,800 people through Pilgrims doors before the start of the Pride parade on Saturday for water and bathrooms, we fired up our new bubble machine and fire pit.

Justin George, one of our members, sat in the choir loft and at the right moment started up the machine. Gently, quietly, peacefully, visibly the bubbles floated over the loft and down into the sanctuary. The kids cried, "bubbles!" The faces of adults started to break into smiles and awe. One of our long time members, Jeanne Mayer, sat in her pew lovingly popping the bubbles that came into her personal space. My first thought, "oh, that's what the Holy Spirit looks like."

For me, it was also an experience of  engaging the space above our heads with the natural elements of water and air. The bubbles were an experience of impermanence, lasting only a few seconds and an incredible creation of primal elements of life.

During communion, we fired up the bubbles again. I hadn't planned on the communion bubbles but after the initial experience I worked through my "should I get Justin to do this, do I want to do this, I hadn't planned on this so maybe I shouldn't do it" thoughts and had Justin hit the switch during our walking meditation prior to coming to the table.

We walked with the Spirit in the shape of bubbles pouring over us, holding our now-written-down identities of past, present and future. After the bread and cup, we processed out to our fit pit a blazin' with yet another primal element (fire!) and we tossed our identities on the Pentecost flames, refining and releasing past, present, and future into the cosmos.