This Sunday was the third installment of our new sermon series on the book of Acts entitled “Swell.” If you missed the first two lessons in this series, you can find them here and here. We started into the second chapter with the story of the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Goal: Today we will learn about the day of Pentecost and Jesus’ change of address from living on Earth as a man to living in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Key Scripture: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8, NIV
- Wrapping paper
- Paper heart
- Family picture
- 2 flashlights, one with batteries and one without
- Ping-Pong ball
- Several lengths of crepe paper
- Several straws
- Red, orange, and yellow fun foam cut into the shape of flames
- Several lengths of black cardboard
Introduction: In advance, place a paper heart, a Bible, a family picture, and two flashlights (one without batteries) inside a box, then wrap the box. Show the box to the children. Explain that we all enjoy receiving gifts and that inside this box are some gifts that God gives to everyone who believes in Him.
Unwrap the box and take out the paper heart. Explain that this heart represents the gift of God’s love for each of us. Next, take out the Bible and tell the children that God’s word is an important gift because it tells us of God’s promises and His instructions for how to live. Then, take out the family picture. Explain that it is a gift to be a part of God’s family because we can pray together, help each other in times of need, and have fun together.
Finally, take out the flashlights. Ask for two volunteers and give one flashlight to each. Have the children turn on their flashlights at the same time. Discuss with the children as to why one flashlight turned on and the other did not. Open the flashlights and show the children that one contained batteries and the other did not. Explain to the children that these flashlights remind us of the gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, we have the power to live good and holy lives; however, when we do not have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we do not have the power to live a life that pleases God.
Lesson: Briefly review the lesson from last week, specifically the main point of waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit (The kids started to sing “They Had to Wait” as soon as we started to review! For more information on the song and how to use musical instruments with it, see the lesson here.). Explain that it must have been very hard for Jesus’ followers to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as it is difficult for us to wait for our gifts under the Christmas tree.
Tell the children that not too much longer after Jesus ascended to heaven, the day of Pentecost came. Explain that this was a feast where God’s people brought gifts and offerings to God and that there were Jews from many different countries in Jerusalem during this time.
Tell the children that on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were all gathered in a house when all of a sudden a strong wind came from heaven and filled the entire place. Suddenly, they saw what looked like tongues of fire resting on each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit! Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in other languages, telling of the wonders of God. Some of the Jews who were visiting from other countries heard Jesus’ followers talking. They were amazed to hear their own language being spoken. Explain that what they experienced would be similar to us visiting another country where the people do not speak English and we don’t speak their language. If they began to praise God in English so we could understand we would be amazed!
Sing “The Pentecost Song,” set to the tune of “Frère Jacques.”
Flames of Fire, Flames of Fire
Mighty Wind, Mighty Wind
The Holy Spirit’s coming, the Holy Spirit’s coming
With His power, with His power
Explain that we don’t always see the Holy Spirit like Jesus’ followers did – as tongues of fire over their heads – but He can still do amazing things! Pull out the hairdryer and Ping-Pong ball. Turn on the hairdryer and place the ball in the stream of air. Explain that just as we cannot see the air coming out of the hair dryer, we can see that it is helping the ball to float. This was probably the most powerful point for the kids – They really connected with it!
Tongues of Fire Craft: Have several pieces of red, orange, and yellow fun foam cut into the shape of flames. Have the pieces of each flame packaged together in a plastic baggie to make distribution easier. Then, have the kids glue the three pieces of the flame together, create headbands out of lengths of black cardboard, staple the flames to the headband and voila! I also took time to review the story with the kids so they could share it with their parents and siblings when they were asked why they had flames over their heads 🙂
Our kids were even cuter with their headbands, but, due to privacy reasons, you’ll have to deal with just a picture of me and my Pentecost craft 🙂 I drew the pieces for our flames free-hand based on an image I found online. Just search for “flame coloring page” and you’ll find something similar.
Wind and Fire Race: Ahead of time, use masking tape on the carpet to designate a start and finish line. Give each child a length of crepe paper and a straw and have the group line up on the starting line. Have them use their straws to blow the crepe paper to the finish line and back. This was actually a little tougher for the kids than I thought it would be – not to mention quite a bit more spit than I anticipated! Try it out yourself ahead of time so you can give the kids some pointers to make it a bit easier for them.
What other activities have you used to teach kids about Pentecost?