02 Jun Pentecost with Children
The Pentecost story often interests children, but can be difficult for them to follow as presented in Acts 2. The opening events of verses 1-4 (especially in the NRSV) catch children’s attention. But the long list of unfamiliar ethnic groups (vss. 8-11) can distract them from the crowd’s response. We can help children understand Pentecost – and the role of the Holy Spirit by identifying ways we sense God’s presence in some common experiences that are shared by children and adults, such as admiring something God made, like a rainbow or a newborn puppy; or while singing together in worship; through the fun and fellowship of a church supper or retreat; doing Gods work together; finding in God’s strength the courage to face frightening situations.
Elizabeth Caldwell, author of Making a Home for Faith, writes about how she loves Pentecost because “it marks the giving of God’s Spirit and the beginning of what we know as the church.” When we create sensory experiences for Pentecost in worship, children will forever be able to connect flames of fire to the red flames of Pentecost. When you are tucked around a campfire together, help your children make the connections between the warmth and power of the flames to the warmth, power, and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost reminds us that “we are the church together.”
Below are some ways you can help children understand and celebrate Pentecost at home:
- Tell your children stories about your church, and what you like about it, to reinforce the connection to their church family.
- Talk about the day of their dedication or baptism, to remind them that they are full “adopted” members of God’s family and God’s church.
- Have a special Pentecost dinner with “red” foods – spaghetti, pizza, red peppers, RED VELVET CAKE. Talk about the connection of the color red to the flames of Pentecost, the day the church was born and the day God sent His “Helper” – the Holy Spirit.
- Connect the Holy Spirit to the wind: we cannot actually see the wind, but we can see the effects of the wind as it blows the trees, or props up a kite. We cannot see the Holy Spirit, but we can see the evidence of the Holy Spirit shaping our hearts to help others in need, love those who are “difficult” for us to love, practicing forgiveness when it seems impossible. Talk about the Holy Spirit’s role in drawing us together to worship and pray as the body of Christ, the church that was born on the day of Pentecost.
One teacher suggested using the five senses as a means to experience the Holy Spirit, by reading the book Sensing Peace, by Suzana E. Yoder. We can’t “see” peace –but we can see evidence of it. Sensing Peace explores what peace smells like, what it tastes and feels and sounds and looks like. It encourages children to notice what peace looks like in their everyday life – when laughing, cooking, gardening, singing or even sharing ice cream. It helps children to realize that peace isn’t something big that only adults know about, and helps them to experience and create peace in meaningful ways each day.
And in the same way we experience peace, we can also experience the Holy Spirit through our Five Senses.
Have a Happy and Blesssed Pentecost! (Don’t forget to wear red!)