Pentecost changed lives
by Helen Levesley (revised, originally published in 2011)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the importance of the festival of Pentecost for Christians.
Preparation and materials
Have available a sound clip of a rushing wind and the means to play it during the assembly. An example is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNOsotOdTU. Play the clip from 0.16 minutes.
I would like you to begin this assembly by closing your eyes and emptying your head of everything. Imagine that you and your closest friends are all sitting together in a room, keeping very quiet. The reason you are doing this is because you have offended the authorities in some way – the reasons are still not clear to you.
You are frightened and scared that the next thing to happen might be the police coming to break down the door. You are also in mourning because one of your very good friends has recently died, and you feel lost without them. They were the heart and soul of the group – the leader and the one you all looked up to.
All of a sudden, there is a noise like a rushing wind . . .
Play the sound clip of the rushing wind at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNOsotOdTU from 0.18 minutes.
You panic. Is it the police? Have you been found? What is happening? Everyone is upset and confused. You can hear your friends shouting and on top of their heads, you can see something that looks like a flame!
Suddenly, you feel very different about yourself. Instead of wanting to hide, you and your friends burst out onto the street and start telling everyone about your friend and the good news that he left you with.
Leave a short period of time for the students to deal with the images.
Now, open your eyes. I wonder if that story is familiar to anyone. The basis of the story comes from the book of Acts, which can be found in the New Testament, the second half of the Bible. It tells us about the story of Pentecost, which is the time when the disciples, who were the people feeling scared in the room, received what Christians call the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is a very important aspect of Christianity. It makes up the third part of the Trinity, which is how Christians understand the nature of God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is seen as the part of God that is at work in the world. Christians believe that it is the Holy Spirit who aids them on a day-to-day basis and leads them to where they need to be. It was the Holy Spirit that visited the disciples in that room during Pentecost and gave them the ability to go out and preach the good news about Jesus, not only to those people close by, but to all people, in many languages. As a result of this, Christianity and the story of Jesus spread out across many nations.
Let’s go back to those feelings that we were imagining at the beginning, those feelings of fright and worry that the disciples were experiencing. What is so amazing is that their experience of the Holy Spirit was so overwhelming and essential to them that they felt they had to go and tell everyone about it.
Think, just for a minute, when you have had a moment like that. Maybe it was when you achieved excellent exam results, or when your brother or sister was born. It could be something as simple as finding something really good to tell people about, like a brand-new song you have heard or a flavour of ice cream that you have discovered. Just recall that feeling for a second, and you will get a tiny glimmer of what it may have felt like for those disciples after they received the Holy Spirit.
Time for reflection
Now, hold on to that moment and that feeling as we reflect on today’s assembly.
Remind us that the good things in life are worth sharing.
Let us be able to rejoice with people when they share their good news with us.
Help us to share our good news and our excitement with people.
Help us to remember that, just like Jesus’ disciples, what we have to tell is worth hearing.
‘Go, tell it on the mountain’ (Come and Praise, 24)
‘Be still, for the presence of the Lord’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 53, 2008 edition)
‘Peace is flowing like a river’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 412, 2008 edition)