The Real Thing
The power of Pentecost
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider how Pentecost changed people from the inside out.
Preparation and materials
- a small box of individually wrapped chocolates e.g. Lindt
- two very small Brussels sprouts covered in chocolate and wrapped to resemble the others
- two children and two adults
- two pupils to read Luke 24.49 and Acts 1.8.
Please check for food allergies in this assembly
- The teacher could begin by talking about how much he or she loves chocolate, and how he or she loves Christmas and Easter and birthdays because chocolate usually features in them all! Ask if anyone else has a craving for chocolate. Have two adults primed and choose them to come out. Pick two children to come out. The children should stand on one side and the adults on the other, a good distance apart.
- Take a chocolate yourself and say ‘mmm’ and ‘aaah’ as you eat it. Then ask the four people if they would like a chocolate. Let the teachers take those that you know are chocolate-coated Brussels sprouts (have these at the top of the box), and then let the children take theirs. Then take another yourself! ‘OK, let’s eat and enjoy.’
The adults should quickly comment, ‘Oh, yuck. It tastes like a Brussels sprout!’
Make a big thing of this.
‘But it was chocolate, and it was wrapped in lovely paper.’
‘It may have been chocolate on the outside, but it certainly isn’t chocolate on the inside! Would you like a taste?’
Assembly leader obviously refuses.
‘I am very sorry about that. Children, are yours chocolate?’
Offer the adults another chocolate. They should look a bit unsure about trying another and have a good poke once the paper is off before putting this one in their mouths.
Adults say, ‘Mmmm. That’s better. This is chocolate, through and through.’
- Explain that, when Jesus was on earth, he knew whether people were really what they appeared to be, whether they were real through and through. He knew whether their goodness and kindness was all show on the surface or whether it went deeper.
One day he really annoyed some religious leaders. They appeared all holy and upright and rather proud of their position which made other people look at them in awe.
‘Woe to you, . . . hypocrites. For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, . . . but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness’ (Luke 23.27–28).
They didn’t like that one bit!
- Christians believe Jesus was God and he was real through and through. When he was on earth, Jesus chose 12 special friends, that we call his disciples, and he taught them all he knew. He taught them that God loved everyone everywhere and showed how them to love and to care for people. He taught them that God was light and truth and taught them wisdom to live by. Day after day for three years he taught them and showed them how to live.
But Jesus also knew that his disciples were like chocolate-covered Brussels sprouts! They may have had some measure of understanding, some measure of training in persevering love, but it was all very surface, just on the outside like the chocolate. At the first sign of trouble he knew they would cave in. They just couldn’t do it all by themselves. And so, after he had been crucified and come back from the dead, he told them to wait.
Pupil to read Luke 24.49. ‘I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’
Pupil to read Acts 1.8. ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
The disciples obeyed and at Pentecost received the promised Holy Spirit and his power. Then came the difference. They became fearless, preaching over and over again to anyone and everyone even though they were imprisoned and beaten every time.
‘We just have to preach this message,’ was their answer to the authorities.
They devoted themselves to teaching others and to prayer. They gave up their homes and lived in community. They sold their possessions and goods and gave to those in need. They prayed for people and saw them healed and set free from all kinds of captivity. They travelled the length and breadth of the land speaking to all kinds of people, they faced persecution and shipwreck, beatings and being killed. They were no longer like chocolate-coated Brussels sprouts, they were real through and through.
Time for reflection
You might like to consider the following truthfully.
Is how you appear on the outside really who you are in the inside? Are you ‘the real thing’?
Dear God, thank you that Jesus was love and truth, through and through. We are often not all we want to be. Thank you for the message of Pentecost. Thank you that you can make us true from the inside out. Grant us your power to become all that you intended us to be.
‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50)