Pentecost is on Sunday 20 May
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore our understanding of the Christian belief about the work of the Holy Spirit (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).
Preparation and materials
- You will need a leader and three readers.
- Optional: you may wish to play the song ‘Mercedes Benz’ by Janis Joplin, in which case you will also need the means to do so. A version of the song (2.24 minutes long) is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tGuJ34062s
Leader: Today, I’m going to give you the chance to dream a little. First, I want you to imagine that you’re 17 years old - yes, I know some of you already are! Next, imagine that you’ve just passed your driving test - yes, I know some of you have already done so! Finally, imagining that money is no object, what would you choose as your first car?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Reader 1: I’d choose a Fiat 500. They’re so cool. They’ve got classic style and look great around town. They’re tiny, too, so they’re easy to park and very manoeuvrable. They’re still big enough to fit my mates in, though.
Reader 2: I’d go for something much chunkier, like a Land Rover Discovery. It would be really powerful, and I’d able to go off-road, too. Land Rovers are very reliable. I could go on expeditions anywhere in the world, or maybe just out into the UK hills!
Reader 3: You two are so boring. I want a taste of speed. If money was no object, I’d probably go for a Porsche, but I could be satisfied with a Ferrari, I reckon. I want people to look at me as I roar past them. The sound of the engine would hang in the air even when I’m well out of sight.
Leader: Fine choices. I’m sure the rest of you could add to them with your own ideas. However, the choice wouldn’t end simply with deciding on a Fiat 500, a Land Rover Discovery or a Porsche. That’s just the start of the process. Let’s look at the Fiat, for example.
Reader 1: Do I want the basic Fiat? Probably not, when I could have the soft-top 500C. Then again, there’s the 500-60th with its 1960s inspired interior. Or I could go for the Anniversario in either green or orange, and add a touchscreen radio and a Tech Pack. All these extras!
Reader 2: It’s the same with the Land Rover Discovery. I could go for the S, the SE, the HSE or the HSE Luxury with its alloy wheels, rear seat entertainment pack and heated steering wheel. And which engine should I get - two-litre or three-litre? All these extras!
Reader 3: It’s no easier with the Porsche. Do I want the basic Boxster or the Boxster GTS? Sports seats or bucket seats? And which colour? There are about 20 on offer. There are even four different types of wheel trim. All these extras!
Leader: All these extras. Do I get the basic model or do I go for the added extras? If money’s no object, why not go for every extra feature that you can? It would be silly not to.
Time for reflection
Leader: What sort of car are you? Most of us would view ourselves as the basic model. We get by, we’re adequate, but nothing special.
This month sees the Christian Church celebrating the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday 20 May. It’s taken from a Jewish festival that marks 50 days from the Passover feast. However, for Christians, it is the day when they remember Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit for all who follow him. Why is this important to Christians? Well, Christians believe that all humanity is created in the image of God. We all have a little bit of God in us. We are creative like him. That’s the basic model, if you like. However, Christians believe that, at Pentecost, Jesus gave his followers some added extras. He gave a special boost version of the model to all those who believe in him and let him influence what they do, say and think.
So, what are these added extras? The Bible gives many examples of Jesus’ followers doing remarkable things. It shows them praying for healing; giving pertinent, wise advice; worshipping God in new, creative ways and performing miracles. The early Church demonstrated the best human qualities of love, joy, peace, patience and kindness in extravagant quantities, to such an extent that the surrounding communities couldn’t fail to be impressed and want to join them.
The same added extras have been demonstrated through history, right to the present day. There are men, women and children who aren’t satisfied with merely living as the basic model. They’ve chosen to live their lives following God and they want his spirit to live in them as they live their lives. That’s why Pentecost, or Whitsun as it’s also known, is a key part of the Christian Church’s year.
Christians believe that a verse in the Bible that says, ‘Jesus came to give life in all its fullness’ is true. They believe that living a life full of God’s spirit will lead to living life in its fullest sense, making it a fulfilled and satisfying experience. That’s what Pentecost is all about: life with all the extras.
Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.
Please remind us of the added extras that you offer whenever we feel too ordinary.
Please help all of us to live our lives to the full.
‘Mercedes Benz’ by Janis Joplin, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tGuJ34062s