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Whitsuntide

To explore the meaning of the Christian festival of Whitsun.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To explore the meaning of the Christian festival of Whitsun.

Preparation and materials

  • Select a group of children who speak another language apart from English. Ask them to prepare a short piece to read or say, something like: This is how we say hello. I hope you have a very good day.
  • If you know another language, introduce the assembly using it. The response is usually quite interesting!
  • An OHP or whiteboard would help to read and share the optional poem, if used.

Assembly

  1. Explain that some children are going to help you and ask everyone to listen to what they have to say. Introduce each one in turn and watch for the reaction, then ask if anyone understood what was being said. Admit that you didn’t either! A short while could be spent in the interpretation of the other languages. Ask your helpers to sit down.
  2. Remind the children that when they first started school they were faced with strange symbols and patterns which they eventually learned to understand, thus enabling them to read.

    All over the world people speak in different languages. Think how wonderful it would be if we were all able to speak the same language and understand one another.

    In some countries, although we can understand the language there are different meanings to words. In America, for example, a biscuit is known as a cookie, sweets are called candy, holidays are vacations, a car boot is a trunk and the bonnet is a hood, rubbish is known as garbage. Many words have different meanings. You might like to set the children the task of discovering more.
  3. Introduce the word Whitsun and ask if anyone has heard of this particular Christian Festival. Explain that at Whitsun, also often called Whitsuntide or Pentecost, we remember the time when Jesus went back into heaven after his resurrection. He asked his followers to carry on his work and he told them that God would give them the power to do this.

    On the day that we call Whitsunday or Pentecost, the Bible says that they were gathered together in a house, when there was a sound like a mighty rushing wind that filled the room (Acts 2). Tongues of fire settled above each person’s head. Then all was quiet again, and they knew that they had been filled with a strange power. The Holy Spirit had entered each one of them.

    Amazingly they found that they were able to speak and understand all the languages that everyone spoke. They would now be able to go out into the world to teach people about God. Christians believe that this was the beginning of Christianity and the story is told to get across the idea that Jesus’ message of love, joy and peace is for everyone.
  4. Optional: Read the poem.

    Whitsuntide
    by Jan Edmunds

    At Whitsuntide God’s power was sent
    To apostles one and all.
    Came a mighty wind and tongues of fire
    On each of them to fall.
    The Holy Spirit given to them
    Made them understood by all
  5. Thank your helpers again and ask them to say ‘Goodbye’ in their own language.

Time for reflection

Reflection

The old story of Whitsun tells of the followers of Jesus and their message for the world.

What message would you like to give the world today?

 

Prayer

We thank you, God,

For giving your apostles the power to take your message of love into the world.

Help us to try to understand people of all races and beliefs  

so that we can live together in peace and harmony.

Amen.

Song/music

‘Spirit of peace’ (Come and Praise, 85)

Publication date: April 2008   (Vol.10 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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