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Pentecost – let’s celebrate!

20 May 2017 3 Comments

This year Pentecost falls on Sunday 4th June and there are many ways children, as experts in enjoying birthday parties,  can lead the adults in celebrating the ‘birthday’ of the church.  Here are some suggestions for ways for children to creatively explore Pentecost, for a children’s talk as part of worship and a link to the SA Synod’s All-Age Worship resource for Pentecost which includes a great list of ideas for celebrating Pentecost, like making a church ‘birthday cake’, wearing red, decorating the church with red balloons and red streamers hanging from the doorways.

Flame Hats

In other Christian traditions, people like popes and archbishops wear flame shaped hats, representing the flames seen hovering over the heads of the people gathered at the first Pentecost, as described in the Bible.  A simple way of remembering this event is to make a cardboard headband and children can cut out flame shapes in red, yellow and orange and attach them to the band.

Sheets of coloured paper or light card can be folded into a flame shape as well.

Flame Collage

A simple and quiet activity children can engage in cooperatively during a worship service is to make a large group collage of flames.  Cut red, orange and yellow cellophane into a flame shape and have them in a large container.  Give each child a glue stick and encourage them to add to the flames on a large cardboard poster.  This can be displayed at the front of the church once it is finished.

Church decorations and worship ideas

It can be hard to decorate a space as big as most churches to make an impact, but one way is large swathes of fabric.  One year I bought 12 metres of cheap red fabric and draped it across the front of our church.  This fabric has since be used many times in a number of ways but always makes a dramatic back drop on Pentecost Sunday.  I have also used large shiny red gift boxes out the front, stacked up and with red ribbons tied around them – representing the gifts of the Spirit.  Red balloons, either helium filled or air filled and tied with red ribbon are effective decorations.  I have given young people and children noise-makers and novelty party blowers to re-enact the noise of rushing wind, and they have thrown streamers to dramatise the events being described in the Pentecost Bible reading.

It is fun to remind people the week before to wear red, and have some red stickers, ribbons or flowers for people who forget.  During the service encourage everyone to say the Lord’s Prayer in their own first language and hear the sounds of many voices using different languages to say the same thing.

A dramatic climax to a worship service for Pentecost is a large birthday cake with candles or sparklers which can be shared at morning tea.  If you use candles that can’t be extinguished (available from party shops) then this can illustrate the inextinguishable Spirit of the church.

 

Children’s Talk with Popcorn

Sometimes the best way to think about something as complex as the action of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, is to use a really simple analogy.

Here in my hand I have a few small corn kernels: they are closed, tight, hard. You can fit them in a small space.

They remind me of the first disciples: although they had witnessed the resurrection, encountered the risen Christ and seen first hand the power of God, they remained small, frightened, unsure and (literally) dis-spirited.

We place them in a small place, a small upper room (put them in the popper) a room where they might re-enact a meal, a ritual of when Jesus was there.

To these small items, we add something powerful: the word of the Holy Spirit: a mighty wind(turn on the popper) and we begin to see a transformation: we cannot see the Holy Spirit herself, but we can see the action she has on the disciples.

(The corn begins to pop) An explosion of energy! A rapid expansion! Beyond the confines of the upper room and into the world, the disciples are no longer tight, hard, withdrawn, but open, fluffy, delightful!

Some are spread far and wide into the world (making a mess on the  floor). It transforms the ritual of bread and wine from a simple memorial to a living re-enactment – as the Holy Spirit brings Christ present in our midst and the body and blood of Christ feeds the dynamic, living world of faith.

My dear friends, the Holy Spirit is here with us today, and can transform you in equally dynamic ways; the Holy Spirit can take that inner hardness, reticence, fear and doubt and help you to be open, fulfilled, released into the world to make a difference.

The Psalmist wrote “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8)

For it is through experience, not deduction or logic that we know this to be true. Taste and see my dear friends, and you will know that by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed, we are like those first disciples, we are bursting with the energy and the love of God.

(Eat popcorn) We have tasted, and we know. Come Holy Spirit. Come. (Yummy!)

Amen.

 

 

Kites, wind catchers, sun catcher

For young children to enter into the Pentecost excitement, a variety of simple crafts enable them to create something to take home.  Simple decorative kites can be made from red cardboard and curling ribbon but an easy kite that actually ‘flies’ can be made from a paper bag and string and can be customised by each child. An alternative is to go to a $2 shop and purchase a DIY kite kit for each child.

Wind catchers are also simply made by rolling a piece of paper and attaching streamers to the end.  These can be hung in a window to catch the breeze.

Cardboard tubes can also be decorated with streamers, wand waved energetically to create ‘wind’.

A paper plate can become a beautiful sun catcher with ‘flames’ in the centre.

Windmills

When the Spirit of God came the first disciples heard a noise like roaring wind! Make a windmill to remind you of the power of wind to make things move, and the power of the Spirit in us. Instructions

Holy Spirit Sparkle Cakes

Pentecost is the church’s birthday -decorate cupcakes in flame colours, then put a sparkler on top and watch it sparkle as you sing ‘Happy Birthday!’

Fruits of the Spirit Smoothie Bar

The Bible tells us the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. Mix a ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ cocktail or smoothie.

Flame Tree Prayers

Take a flame shape and write a prayer or wish. Hang the flame on the tree.

Spirit Signing

Check Auslan to find ways to communicate using Auslan – see if you can sign The Spirit, or Jesus, or God.

Red flame dove 1

The red dove that features in the Uniting Church in Australia’s logo can be added to kites, helicopters and spinners to symbolise the Holy Spirit as a dove and as flames. For ideas for helicopters see here

Red flame dove 2

The red dove that features in the Uniting Church in Australia’s logo can be celebrated by seating children in a circle and gently allowing some red feathers (available from craft shops) to float down over them. Encourage each child to pick up a red feather and say a prayer either aloud or silently and then blow the feather in the air. They can keep the feathers to remind them of the Holy Spirit’s role in enabling us to pray.

Bubbles

A simple and fun way to help young children celebrate Pentecost is to give each child a small bottle of party bubbles and show them how to blow gently to create bubbles. Bubble prayers are ‘breath’ prayers you say when you are blowing bubbles, and can illustrate the way our prayers make a beautiful offering to God. Or you could pass a pot of bubbles around the circle. As each individual blows a bubble, they say a prayer, either silently or aloud.

Links

Uniting Church SA Synod Inter-Gen Team – Pentecost

Barnabas in Churches – Christian Year – Pentecost

3 Comments »

  • tanty said:

    i like it!!
    inspired me a lot! thanks!

  • Jim said:

    Great ideas! I used the pop corn ‘Holy Spirit’ for our last day of VBS. More Blessings to ya!

  • Viviana said:

    wonderful!!! Thank you for sharing this!

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