Liturgy by TLW



Ideas for Worship on the Day of Pentecost

by The Rev. Thomas L. Weitzel
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


This once great festival of the church has diminished in recent times, especially when compared to Christmas and Easter. And yet there was a time when the Day of Pentecost was as big an event as these, with its own vigil service. Unfortunately, nothing survives of this ancient liturgy.

How might we return Pentecost to its once great splendor as a chief festival of the Church Year?

1. Many churches have already made this Confirmation Day -- a worthy appointment, given the associations of the Holy Spirit in both festival and rite.

A suggestion for the Rite of Confirmation:  Have the confirmands and the ministers begin the rite at the Baptismal font.  As they assemble, pour water into the font for all to see.  This emphasizes the Baptism which confirmands are there to affirm.

After each confirmand publicly affirms their profession of faith and their intention to continue in their Baptismal covenant, have each confirmand come to the font, dip a hand and make the sign of the cross upon themselves -- an act which has traditionally been associated with remembrance of Baptism.

At that point, have the confirmands process to the altar and kneel down before it for the prayer and the laying of hands.

2. Pentecost is also a good time for Baptisms, again because of the association of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is a laudable custom to designate certain times during the year as Baptismal Festivals (All Saints, Baptism of Our Lord, Easter Vigil, Pentecost), heightening associations already present in these festivals with the Baptism. In churches where Baptisms are frequent, this also allows for recurring classes of pre-Baptismal instruction in which to enroll candidates and sponsors, thereby being more efficient and intentional about such instruction.

3. If you have no confirmations or baptisms planned for this day, it is a good time to remember with thanksgiving all those who volunteer and do work in the church.  Look in the "Occasional Services: Churches" section on this website for Thanksgiving for Volunteers to be used in place of the Prayer of the Church.

4. Given that Christmas and Easter are traditional "flower days," Pentecost can be raised to similar "importance" by so designating it as well.

Many churches have encouraged the purchase of Geraniums for Pentecost, given their little fire-red petals that emulate the tongues of fire over the heads of the apostles. The neat thing about geraniums is that they are so cheap, compared to poinsettias or lilies. Not only that, everyone is already wanting to buy them for their summer gardens. So people can buy 10 or more at church. When you multiply that by the number of usual lily/poinsettia buyers, that can make for a lot of geraniums and a big splash of red for Pentecost. Little Shiloh, Walton, has been known to have upwards to 200 on this day.

Make sure you work out a special price with a local florist. And also be sure to place an approximate order each year right after Easter. This is especially important if Pentecost is late and after Memorial Day (Decoration Day), as it is this year.

5. Another slightly folksy, but fun thing to do for Pentecost is to encourage everyone to wear something red. Combined with geraniums it makes the day quite bright and festive.

6. For the liturgy, use the following Dialog for Pentecost instead of the Kyrie:


A. Alleluia! The Spirit of the Lord fills the world.

C. Let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God. Alleluia!


A. With tongues of fire, the Spirit kindles the apostle's zeal.

C. They declare in new tongues the wonderful works of God.


A. Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

C. And blessed be his kingdom now and forever.


A. Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit!

C. Fill the hearts of your faithful people with your love. Alleluia!


The Hymn of Praise would be "This is the Feast." The Prayer of the Day might be chanted. Use Eucharistic Prayer IV in ELW or II in LBW.