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The Real McCoy

The power of Pentecost

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To consider the power of Pentecost in the lives of the early disciples.

Preparation and materials

  • a packet of McCoy crisps (if you hand these out, check for food allergies first)
  • a Google image of Sir Chris Hoy
  • a Google image of Chris Hoy’s parents with the banner, ‘Chris Hoy the real McHoy’
  • two pupils to read Luke 24.49 and Acts 1.8.


  1. Write the words ‘the real McCoy’ on a whiteboard.

    Consider the meaning of the term ‘the real McCoy’. If you were to look on Wikipedia, you would find many possibilities suggesting where this saying first came from. Apparently, it might have originated in an advert for a great Scottish whisky, changed from ‘the real McKay’ to ‘the real McCoy’. It simply means ‘the very real thing’.

  2. Show the packet of McCoy crisps. Hand a few out to pupils.

    No doubt about it, these are great crisps. From the first crunchy burst of salty potato to the last few crumbs at the bottom of the packet, you know you are not eating a cheap everyday brand!

  3. Show the image of Chris Hoy.

    Do you recognize this man?

    Show the image of his parents holding the banner they took to every cycling event, ‘Chris Hoy the real McHoy’.

    Consider the appropriateness of this very clever banner.

  4. If we were testing Chris Hoy, I reckon we would find ‘the real thing’: legs stretched to the limit, bones and muscles in peak performance, arm muscles taut and without a millimetre of extra flesh on them, and a bottom that had learned to cope with being perched on a tiny seat for hours! I think you would agree that Chris Hoy is every bit the real thing, a cycling genius through and through. There is not one part of him that hasn’t been trained to near-perfection.

  5. Jesus, when he was on earth, chose 12 disciples. They were very ordinary, everyday kind of people. The plan was that when he died he would leave them with the task of spreading his message of God’s love to the whole world. He spent three years with them, day and night teaching everything he knew. Yet when he died they fled, disowned him and spent the following weeks hiding in an upstairs room in case they were next to be killed. Jesus knew that what was in them was certainly not ‘the real McCoy’!

    They might have had some measure of courage and understanding, and some training in persevering love, but it was all very much on the surface. Jesus’ intention was that they were to be ‘the real thing’ through and through, as he had been.

    And so he told them to wait.

    Student to read Luke 24.49: ‘I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’

    Student to read Acts 1.8: ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on 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 death. And God added hundreds to their number every day. Eventually all but one of these 12 disciples was cruelly martyred for his faith. They had indeed become ‘the real McCoy’.

  6. To date, 22 million people have been on an Alpha course, which is designed to help people to find out whether this message is still ‘the real McCoy’. Is Jesus real and his word the truth? Every day, hundreds of Christians in places like Syria are facing death daily at the hands of extremists for what they believe. The message has spread from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, and God is still, by his power, changing people from the inside out with his message of love and forgiveness.

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, 
We alone know who we really are and we cannot fool ourselves or you. We are a mixture of bad and good.
We love to see ‘the real McCoy’ in people. 
Thank you for the message of Pentecost. 
Grant us your power to become all that you intended us to be.Amen.


‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)

Publication date: May 2015   (Vol.17 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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