So…Pentecost. Where did it come from? What is it? And how can you talk about it with kids?
Not until I was in my ministry career did I know what Pentecost was. If this is you, no shame. Some churches don’t celebrate it. On the other hand, some churches celebrate it without much explanation at all.
A quick side note here: It doesn’t help anyone to assume that people thinking about the liturgical calendar and know what’s going on. Most people have no idea. And to assume otherwise often leaves people feeling excluded and bored. Furthermore, what a missed opportunity to reveal the power of your tradition and God’s presence among us!
So, explain the history behind Pentecost, because some of us don’t know and because we all can use a refresher. OK, stepping off the soapbox.
Pentecost is all about God’s presence with us through the Holy Spirit. How do you experience God’s presence? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
A Shift of Focus at Pentecost
Pentecost is an event we celebrate every year in the Church. And its roots are actually in scripture. If you haven’t already, give Acts chapter 2 a read.
In the Acts story, the disciples were celebrating Festival of Weeks AKA Shavuot AKA Pentecost, a Jewish harvest festival seven weeks after Passover. In Hebrew, Shavuot means “weeks.” In Greek, Pentecost refers to the same thing. But instead, it means “fifty,” the number of days rather than weeks after the last Sabbath of Passover.
What the disciples experienced on this particular Pentecost shifted their focus entirely. It was a pivot in their theology and their faith and ministry practices.
A Promise Kept
Jesus promised that a comforter, teacher, and advocate would come to take his place. Enter the Holy Spirit on Pentecost! Acts 2:1-31 tells the story of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell with the disciples.
All that gathered together that day spoke in tongues, and there was something like fire around each of them. It was an amazing day for them. And it would prove to be an extraordinary day for the whole of the faith community.
In the Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit became a part of the picture of what we now call Pentecost. Jesus made a promise and kept it. Pentecost turned out to be a day of fulfillment. The disciples knew they weren’t alone in their work.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit, really the Trinity, is a tricky topic. Since we’ve been conscious creatures, we’ve been searching for ways to talk about God that make sense of our experiences in the world.
The Holy Spirit is the way we speak of God’s presence among us. The Spirit speaks to us, pointing us in the direction that serves us. The Spirit heals us, offers comfort and instruction, and somehow guides Life as she has her being in and through each of our lives.
Talking with Kids About Pentecost
A great way to speak to kids about Pentecost is while coloring! Reflection takes place, and conversations happen when kids are engaged around the table. Invite kids to color together while discussing the following:
- Take a moment to close your eyes. Notice where you feel your breath as you breathe. You may feel a faint tingling in your hands or the soles of your feet. God is with us even now as we breathe together, in every part of our body and breath.
- We use the name Holy Spirit when we talk about God being here within us and all around us. How might you describe God’s presence using your words? “When God is with me, I feel/things are…”
- In the Pentecost story, the Holy Spirit was with the disciples. The Holy Spirit arrived and helped everyone there connect, even though they spoke different languages. How does the Holy Spirit help us use our words to connect with others? Maybe in talking through a conflict or in sharing stories or encouraging each other?
- How might it be difficult to understand someone even though they speak the same language as you? And how about when we don’t have much in common with someone else?
- The Holy Spirit helps us experience hope, freedom, compassion, understanding, and connection. In what area of your Life can the Holy Spirit help you experience these things now?
Pentecost Coloring Pages
We have many options for coloring pages when it comes to Pentecost. One of them, our Pentecost Coloring Page & Poster, is a hand-drawn illustration by our founder, Adam Walker Cleaveland, and can be used in any number of ways to help you celebrate Pentecost in your congregations.
The illustration consists of hand-lettering that says Pentecost in the middle. At the top of the illustration are the words “I will pour out my Spirit.” At the bottom, beneath all the flames, are the words, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Happy coloring! I hope you experience God’s presence anew within and around you this Pentecost.
How do you experience the Holy Spirit? Don’t forget to share with us in the comments below!