Rainsticks, Pentecost, & Lent

Here’s an idea to incorporate into worship. I’ve used this idea for Lent and Pentecost, but it can be adapted to any theme.

Here are the materials you need:


. . . a mailing tube spray painted whatever color you prefer.

Drill at least 100 holes throughout the length of the mailing tube.

The size of the holes should be a smidge smaller than the thickness of the nail.


. . . a box of nails, making sure the length is a smidge less than the diameter of the tube


. . . colored paper cut into small strips


Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?” (John 3.9)

One of the Scripture texts for the second Sunday of Lent in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary is John 3.1-17, the story of Nicodemus. Focusing on verse 9, there is something to appreciate about Nicodemus’ resistance, unbelief, and astonishment when hearing Jesus’ promises. It is our willingness to continue to ask questions that compels us on our transformational faith journey and living into God’s promises for us.

On a strip of paper, worshippers were invited to write a question or word(s) to carry them on their faith journey? These strips of paper were collected.

Hit the rock. Water will come out of it, and the people will be able to drink. (Exodus 17.6)

The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life. (John 4.14)

The Scripture texts for the third Sunday of Lent in Year A is Exodus 17.1-7, Moses hitting the rock to quench the thirst of the wandering Israelites, and John 4.5-42, the story of the Woman at the Well. Focusing on how God is calling us to hit the rock and fill the well for each other and our community, each worshipper was given a small rock. They were invited to hold the rock and consider how God is calling us to be Living Water and to fill the well. Consider who is thirsty.

On the communion table was the baptismal bowl filled with water surrounded by large rocks. Worshippers came up and hit their small rock on the larger rocks and dropped it into the water as a gesture of their active participation to act in justice, love, forgiveness, and compassion.

The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows; he leads me to restful waters (Psalm 23.1-2)

One of the Scripture texts for the fourth Sunday of Lent in Year A is Psalm 23 – a psalm of hope written in the depths of dire crisis. A perfect Psalm to hold onto as we reflect on Jesus’ own journey through the wilderness. We can cling to the hope that God’s “goodness and faithful love will pursue [us] all the days of [our] life.” (v. 6) 

Combining Nicodemus’ willingness to question, the Woman at the Well sharing Living Water that only Jesus can offer, and God’s promise to carry us through even the difficult times, we have the materials of a survival pack for our own journey into the wilderness.

I separated the questions and the words collected from the second Sunday of Lent into different categories. Each paper had a nail through it.

photo 1

Worshippers were invited to take as many words as they wanted and stick it into the holes of the mailing tube. What words did they feel called to carry for others?

photo 2

The mailing tube was filled with the small rocks used on the third Sunday of Lent – the same small rocks that were put into the baptismal bowl. When all the contents were put together, it makes a rainstick, reminding us that our individual stories, needs, and calling make a collective sound . . . like water overflowing . . . Living Water flowing . . . restoring water flowing.

photo 3


They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak. (Acts 2.3)

At the Presbytery of Milwaukee‘s Discovery Days, a worship-design group I’m a part of, Holy Enchilada, designed a Pentecost-themed worship.

Each participant wrote a vision for themselves and a vision for the presbytery. They were invited to nail their pieces of paper to the mailing tube.


Focusing on Acts 2 where people started to speak in other languages and yet everyone understood each other, the rainsticks were given to the moderator and vice-moderator so that every time they heard the sound, they were reminded that we all are the presbytery sharing our individual and collective vision.


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