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Fire! An assembly for Pentecost

A Pentecost assembly exploring the Christian Church’s birthday and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

by Penny Hollander

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To explore the Christian festival of Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit).

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a large card/OHT with FIRE! written on it in large letters and some means of writing up words for display.
  • A large candle as focal point for reflection.

Assembly

  1. Show the word ‘FIRE!’ to the children and ask them what words come to mind when they think of fire. Write up words as the children suggest them: exciting, warm, gives light, dangerous, destroys.

    Ask the children to think of happy occasions when we have fires, e.g. Bonfire Night, camp fires at Brownies or Cubs.
  2. Fire can also be dangerous so we have to be careful when we are near it. Explain how we need to take precautions not to get hurt by it. Refer to the need for adult supervision when having anything to do with fire.
  3. Say that fire is sometimes used by Christians as a metaphor (picture) for God. Tell the children the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples at Pentecost. Ask them to imagine this scene and suggest that closing their eyes may help them to focus on it in their minds.

    Jesus has risen from the dead and has shown himself to his disciples (followers) on several occasions. After 40 days, or nearly six weeks, he leaves them again to return to heaven, but not before he has asked them to go and tell other people about him. He also gives them a promise that even though he cannot be with them any more as a person to help them do this, he will send the Holy Spirit to be with them.

    The disciples are puzzled – what does Jesus mean? They gather together in a room in Jerusalem and wait for Jesus to keep this promise. Nothing seems to happen, even though about 120 of Jesus’ followers are praying! How is the Holy Spirit going to come, and when? Why do they have to keep waiting? How do you think they feel? Frightened, anxious, or just curious?

    Still they wait, and while they are waiting they choose another disciple, Matthias, to replace Judas Iscariot. Judas was the one who had betrayed Jesus to the authorities.

    It seems as if nothing is going to happen. Has Jesus let them down? Is it a matter of out of sight, out of mind? Questions keep going round and round in their heads. Everyone and everything is very quiet, but still they keep sitting there in that room.

    Then in that quietness the followers suddenly hear a new sound – it’s like a strong wind blowing towards them. They become aware that God’s presence is with them and at the same time they see something incredible: flames or tongues of fire resting on each person’s head – but not burning them! Instead they each feel a new power sweeping through them, making them happy and excited. In fact they are so excited they all start speaking at once and in different languages.

    The day of Pentecost had come and the disciples' lives had changed for ever. Jesus had kept his promise, and sent the Holy Spirit to be their friend – the fire was a sign of the presence of the Spirit, and the different languages they were speaking were a sign that now they could go and tell other people in other parts of the world about Jesus too.

    If the children have closed their eyes they can now open them again.

Time for reflection

Reflection

As a large candle is lit, ask the children to focus on the flame and think about the story they have just heard, about the disciples’ anxiety turning to joy.

The Bible describes the Holy Spirit in different ways – being strong like the wind, but gentle as a dove and as bright, warming and powerful as fire. What would it have felt like to have been with the disciples in that room on that special day of Pentecost?

Prayer

Dear God,

We thank you for sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Thank you that you keep your promises and can turn sadness to joy.

Amen.

Song/music

'Colours of day' (Come and Praise, 55)

Publication date: June 2006   (Vol.8 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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