Parents’ pause for thought: Read the story of Pentecost in the Bible (Acts 2): Take time to think of any times when you have felt filled with the warmth and love of God (either quietly or dramatically). Perhaps you felt emboldened to speak out or take some action? Be prepared to share these stories with the children in your life. (Be encouraged by verse 39).
The Day of Pentecost – Peter’s Story
‘When did the Church begin? I’d say it was the day God’s Holy Spirit was sent to us. That’s when we disciples came alive and burst into action. I shall never forget it . . .
‘After the resurrection, Jesus had explained why he’d had to die on the Cross. In our heads, we understood the reason for it. Yet we still half hoped that he would now be crowned as king. But no, Jesus was going back to his Father in heaven. We were to teach everyone to follow him, first in Jerusalem and then throughout the whole world! But first he asked us to wait in Jerusalem for his Holy Spirit to come to us.
‘As we waited, we met to chat and pray. I suppose we felt rather flat. We knew the task ahead, but mostly we were just ordinary men – how could we stand up in front of crowds and explain what we hardly understood ourselves? A fisherman, I felt like my boat when there was no wind in the sails, out on the lake going nowhere.
‘Everything changed on that Sunday morning. Outside in the city, the streets were filled with pilgrims from all over, come to celebrate the first ripe crops. We sat inside, quietly praying. I think we all heard it at once. Our eyes met, questioning. What was that rushing sound, like a great wind blowing straight down from heaven, filling the house? Startled, I saw tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each one of us.
‘And suddenly, each of us flickered into life. We felt the warmth of the truth within our hearts as well as knowing it in our minds. Oh, how the Spirit flowed out of us as we found bold words to declare the wonders of God in languages as diverse as the countries of those Pilgrims outside.
‘A crowd gathered, listening to our shouts and declarations, amazed that they each heard their native languages. “What does this mean?” I heard them ask. “It means they have had too much wine,” replied another.
‘I couldn’t let that pass. Looking at those people, I saw them for the first time as Jesus would have done – bewildered, like sheep in need of a shepherd. Standing up, I raised my voice. I started to explain who Jesus was and how he had died for each one of us for the forgiveness of our sins. I urged them to be baptized and to follow Jesus and I told them that they and their children would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit too. Yes, that was when it all began, for our numbers swelled to more than three thousand that amazing day.’
Peter’s story: Read the story together, perhaps around the kitchen table. Wonder about it as follows:
- I wonder how the disciples felt at first about preaching to the whole world?
- I wonder what they saw and heard on the day of Pentecost
- I wonder how they felt afterwards
- I wonder if God might ask you to do something special. How would you feel?
Happy Birthday! Pentecost is sometimes seen as the birthday of the church. Why not wear something red to church on 20th May to celebrate? Ask children to help you prepare a fruit salad for dessert (to represent the fact that Pentecost was a harvest festival and the first disciples were the harvest of Jesus’ work) and eat with a slice of ‘birthday’ cake!
Spreading the word: What can we tell other people about Jesus? Write this as a heading on a large sheet of paper. Leave some felt tip pens for the family to add their ideas (eg. He loves us, He is always with us, He keeps his promises, etc).
In the car/on a walk: How many things can you think of that need the power of wind or fire to get them going? What do you think human beings need?
Young children: Play the story of Pentecost, retelling it in your own words. Get everyone to tear up strips of red, yellow and orange tissue paper and float these down onto their heads! Make sound effects of the wind!
You could read a picture book about a windy day. Chat about the disciples being blown out onto the streets to tell people about Jesus at Pentecost.
Prayer: Thank God for the gift of his Spirit to each one of us. In a series of prayers, pray for home and family, for neighbours, for a street, for village or town, for big cities, for a country, gradually widening out your prayers to include the whole world! Use a globe as a visual aid.