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The fire of Pentecost

To reflect on God's gifts of forgiveness and love at Pentecost

by Charlotte Benstead

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To reflect on God’s gifts of forgiveness and love at Pentecost.

Preparation and materials

  • It would be very useful (if health and safety will allow) to have a small, contained fire to illustrate your assembly, or failing that, a candle with a strong flame.

Bible Reading

Acts 2.1– 21

Assembly

  1. Begin by showing the audience your fire or candle. Ask them to consider how amazing an elemental force fire is. Comment that for many people, fire holds both a fascination and a fear.
  2. Say that human beings have been gathering around fire ever since we learned to harness its power as cave-dwellers many, many millennia ago. Without the heat of fire on our bodies, its ability to cook our food, ward off predators and banish the darkness, we would have died out long since.
  3. Of course, fire has not always been our friend. Fire, out of control, destroys. House fires and forest fires, for example, bring tragedy to the lives of millions of people each year.
  4. In medieval times people were terrified by fire, and not just the fire that could destroy their wooden houses, but also the flames of hell. Hell was imagined to be the place where evil people met their fate of fire and torture, a place of eternal punishment and suffering.
  5. Although Jesus talked more of hell than heaven, he offered love and forgiveness. Even when he was on the cross, Jesus refused to condemn those who were torturing and killing him. Instead he forgave them, and he promised Paradise, not hell, to the thief dying next to him.
  6. For most Christians the kind of fire Jesus brings is to be found at Pentecost.
  7. Read Acts 2.1–21.
  8. If you have ever seen a blacksmith at work, perhaps on television, you will know the effect that fire has on iron and steel: it purifies, it converts and it strengthens. In short, it totally transforms a humble piece of metal into something strong and beautiful.
  9. At Pentecost we are reminded that God’s fire has exactly the same effect. The fire of Pentecost can totally transform a person’s life.

Time for reflection

Reflection:

The Fire

One day I saw a fire

All red and gold and blue,

And as the fire came nearer

I wondered what to do.

It didn’t seem to threaten

It just stood there all ablaze,

And as the fire stared at me

I met its potent gaze.

I sought to find its purpose,

It trembled for a bit

Then it seemed to speak to me

Words filled with sense and wit.

‘Stand up for all your principles

Be as strong willed as you can,

Always speak your mind, don’t lie

And respect your fellow man.’

As the fire grew dimmer

I swear it seemed to smile,

Then it slowly died away

But its words remained awhile.

If you see this fire

Don’t fear its smoke and heat,

Listen closely to it

It will make your life complete.

(Stuart Kerner)

 

Prayer:

Father,

At Pentecost you touched the followers of Jesus with tongues of fire.

Fill us with the fire of your spirit:

Let us feel the heat of your love.

Light us up with your peace.

Consume our selfish desires.

And convert us into models of righteousness.
Amen.

Suggested music

‘Firestarter’ by The Prodigy

‘Fire’ by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Hymn

‘Spirit of God’ (Come and Praise, 63)

Publication date: May 2005   (Vol.7 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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