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Acts 2.1-21; Psalm 104.24-34,35b; Romans 8.14-17; John 14.8-17,(25-27)

Explore & respond

Ways of engaging different ages, spiritual styles and learning preferences

Adult & All Age

Sermon ideas

Ideas for sermon preparation on Acts 2.1-21

See also  PostScript - Comments, prayers, questions and discussion on the week's news.

  •   What makes things start? In an oven? In a car? A rocket? A kettle? In all of these things, there is considerable power at work, but the action required to start them involves (usually) just one small step. Pentecost was the start of the Church, and we see how something seemingly so small – an event affecting a few dozen people in one city on one particular day 2,000 years ago – has led to the Church spreading across the globe. How might the Holy Spirit be at work in our generation? What small Spirit-filled steps might we be called to take right now?
  •   The disciples had been told to wait for the Holy Spirit. They had received teaching on what the Holy Spirit would do. When the Spirit came, they recognised it as the work of God and joined in. Some of the crowd asked questions – they wondered what was happening; some even dismissed it as the ravings of a bunch of drunkards. Peter and the disciples knew this was the work of the Spirit because they were well prepared. How should we prepare? Do we recognise the work of God – even if it might look to some as if it is something else entirely? Are we prepared to stand up and give an account of ourselves and the gospel?

  •   Do you know anyone who has sought ‘Dutch courage’? People sometimes use alcohol to help them lose their inhibitions and gain confidence. The disciples certainly were different after being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit made them bolder, gave them confidence and purpose. In later chapters of Acts, we see how they continued God’s work in the face of opposition and persecution. Paul, writing to the Christians in Ephesus, encourages people to ‘not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5.18). What might it look like if we were filled with the Holy Spirit in a similar way today?

  • In speaking to the crowd, Peter draws on Scripture that would be familiar to those listening. What might we draw upon today – in a culture where most know nothing of Hebrew Scripture – that would ring bells and make sense for people when we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit? Joel’s prophetic message is one of restoration not just of Israel but of the whole of creation. How can we speak of the Spirit as the gift of the crucified and exalted Jesus, and the fulfilment of hope for a new creation, in today’s world?

You may also find this week's All-age conversation useful.

KEY:  icon indicates ways to connect faith with everyday life

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All-age conversation

 A way for leaders to help all ages explore the reading.

What does a loaf of bread start out as? Do you know the key ingredient that makes the bread rise? What does bread look like if none of this ingredient (i.e. yeast) has been added?

We can think of the Holy Spirit as being God’s yeast. The Early Church broke out – it rose up – at Pentecost in response to this key ingredient. But it wasn’t easy. People laughed at the disciples. Others tried to make trouble for them. However, this personal experience of being touched by God’s Spirit inspired them. It made them bolder and gave them confidence to talk about Jesus, and to overcome the difficulties that they faced. Without the Spirit – like the loaf without yeast – things would have continued to be very flat!

Two thousand years later, what can we do to make sure that we, the Church, do not turn out flat? How can we let the Holy Spirit touch and fill our lives? What things might the Spirit give us confidence and boldness to do? Are there some practical steps we might take right now?

 

You may also find this week's Sermon ideas useful.

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Active worship

Activities based on Acts 2.1-21

A simple worship activity for all ages

Set up an indoor water feature and switch it on. Play some background music (preferable on a ‘Spirit’ theme – e.g. ‘Spirit Fall’ by Phil Wickham, or the Taizé chant ‘Veni, Sancte Spiritus’). Invite people to sit in a comfortable receptive posture, with their hands in their laps, palms facing up – then pray, simply, ‘Come, Holy Spirit’. Be still and quiet for several minutes, perhaps repeating the phrase every now and then. You could end by singing together a more active song/hymn invoking the Holy Spirit.
E S

Knowing Jesus

Invite people to reflect for a few moments on how they picture or imagine Jesus. What does he look like for them? Display or project different images of Jesus from around the world – perhaps on a loop. Ask people to reflect on these images, and their own, praying that they might experience his presence in a new way on this day of Pentecost. You could play some quiet background music or do this activity in silence.
E S

Witness statements

What is a witness required to do? Invite people, in pairs, to discuss this question as if they were preparing to give a witness statement in a court case that was to assess if Jesus was real and alive. Remind them that they can only speak of things they know to be true for themselves – a court witness cannot report hearsay, or share someone else’s experience! Give enough time to this activity so that people have the opportunity to think it through in some depth.
W A

Spirit streamers

Make streamers to represent the Holy Spirit as fire, that can be taken home and placed on the handlebars of bikes, car dashboards, tied to straps on bags, and so on. You will need red, yellow and orange ribbon and rainbow string  cut into approx. 20cm lengths. Give each person at least one ribbon of each colour and a piece of string. Bind the ribbons tightly together at one end using the string, leaving enough string to make a tie or a loop to fasten the streamer onto something suitable – it could be a wrist!
E

Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles 

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Drama: A reading for Pentecost

A sketch for three people, bringing to life Acts 2.1-21.

You will need two 'visitors'. They may wear ordinary clothes or Biblical dress. They are received by whoever is leading worship at the relevant point.

Reader
Today's reading is taken from Acts 2.1-21.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were altogether in one place. And suddenly…

There is a knock on the door. Visitor 1 crashes in and runs to the front.

Visitor 1
It's happened – just now! Flames, howling winds, madness. They were drunk, I tell you.

Leader
Can I help you? We're in the middle of a service; would you like to settle down over there? (points to empty seat)

Visitor 1
Settle down? Now is not the time to settle down!

There is another knock at the door. Another person rushes in.

Visitor 2 (panting,  a little incoherent)
Peter and the disciple… something happened… they've changed… during our celebration party for Moses' law-giving.

Visitor 1
You were there too? Tell these people – they haven't heard.

Visitor 2 (still breathless)
Peter and his disciples were sitting together praying. I was preparing breakfast. They were scared and didn't know what to do. Then suddenly there was a howling wind. I thought a hurricane was coming and hid under the table. Then there was a dazzling fire and flames seemed to settle on their heads so the whole room blazed with light.

Visitor 1
I was outside. We were partying together, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia.

Visitor 2
And Libya and Rome.

Visitor 1
The Galileans came out to talk to us. They were all lit up and dancing, shouting praise to God and hugging each other. And we all heard them – people from many nations, yet we all heard the disciples in our own language. Weird, unearthly, or else they were drunk.

Visitor 2
No they were drinking water. It was nine o'clock in the morning!

Visitor 2
Then Peter's voice rang out with such authority that we stopped chattering amongst ourselves and listened. It was as though he was speaking to each of us alone.

Visitor 1
And it was from the prophet Joel. A piece we all knew well but had never heard spoken like this.

They speak with rising excitement and awe.

Visitor 2
In the last days it will be, God declares,

Visitor 1
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,

Visitor 2
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,

Visitor 1
and your young men shall see visions,

Visitor 2
and your old men shall dream dreams.

Visitor 1
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

Visitor 2
in those days I will pour out my Spirit: and they shall prophesy.

Visitor 1
And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,

Visitor 2
blood and fire and smoky mist.

Visitor 1
The sun shall be turned to darkness

Visitor 2
and the moon to blood,

Visitor 1
before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day.

Visitor 2
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Pause, then raise arms to the ceiling and speak to all present.

Visitor 1
The Spirit is poured out among us here and in all places and on all people.

Visitor 2
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Visitor 1
Praise our Lord Jesus!

Visitor 2
Praise our Father God!

Visitor 1
Praise the Holy Spirit!

Both (shout in triumph)
Amen!

The leader thanks the visitors and asks if they would like to join in the rest of the worship. They accept with delight.

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  • What do you think this person is experiencing?
  • When have you ‘abandoned’ yourself totally to God?
  • What were/are the practical consequences of doing so?

Children & Young People

Explore & respond with children

Do, Make, Pray and Sing activities based on Acts 2.1-21

Choose from these ideas to help the children make connections between the Bible reading and their lives

Do

The Holy Spirit says…          10 mins E

Play a game that requires waiting patiently

You will need: space and leaders to observe.

  • Invite the children to spread out around the space and lie comfortably on the floor.
  • They must lie totally still until they hear the words, ‘The Holy Spirit says…’ plus an instruction, e.g. raise your right hand,
    sit up.
  • Children are ‘out’ if they move before they hear, ‘The Holy Spirit says…’, or if they move when only an instruction is given.

Balloon release                     10 mins W E S

Demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit

You will need: balloons of various shapes and colours, one or more balloon pumps.

The Holy Spirit has lots of energy and can be unpredictable – just like a balloon!

  • Invite each child to choose a balloon and blow it up with the pump, then hold onto the end so it doesn’t deflate. Younger children may need help.
  • Get everyone to stand all together at one end/side of the room, pointing the ends of their balloons upwards into the air.
  • On the count of three, everyone lets their balloon go and enjoys watching where it travels!

 

Make

Holy Spirit streamers           10 mins E S

A symbol of the fire of the Holy Spirit

You will need: red, yellow and orange ribbon cut into 40cm lengths, rainbow string/beading cord, cut into 50cm lengths.

  • Invite each child to choose at least nine lengths of different coloured ribbon and hold all the ends together. Double back approx. 3cm of ribbon and wind some rainbow cord several times around this ribbon bunch before tying tightly to secure.
  • Make a loop in the other end of the cord, large enough to slip over the child’s wrist.
  • Encourage the children to move around the space, waving their arms and making the Holy Spirit streamers ‘dance’ about and trail behind them.

Holy Spirit shakers               10 mins E S

Recreate the sound of the Holy Spirit

You will need: clean and empty plastic, or cardboard, containers with lids, e.g. vitamin tablet tubes, Pringle™ canisters, cocoa tins, uncooked rice or lentils, spoons, red, yellow and orange electrician’s tape and scissors.

  • Remind the children that the disciples experienced the Holy Spirit like a powerful wind. They are going to make musical instruments to recreate that sound.
  • Give each child an empty container and invite them to fill it a quarter to a third full of rice or lentils and put the lid on. Seal the lid with tape, then use the tape to decorate the rest of the container.
  • Have fun making wind noises with the finished instruments.

Pray

Blowing bubbles                   5 mins E S

Invite the Holy Spirit to fall on us

You will need: bottles of bubble solution with bubble loops, one per child; a recording of Chris Tomlin’s ‘Spirit Fall’.

  • Invite the children to sit in a circle with you on the floor. Give each child a bottle of bubble solution.
  • Remind everyone how, in the story, the Holy Spirit appears like a mighty wind. Invite the children to blow into the loop with a big breath like a wind and make a big bubble. Then try blowing more softly.
  • Play the song quietly and invite the children to listen and gently blow bubbles into the centre of the circle.
  • Gently fade the music out and pray:

Loving Father,
let your Holy Spirit fall,
fall on us – like a mighty wind;
light the fire again.
Come and breathe your breath on us.
Amen.

More prayers are available via the Prayers page.

KEY

Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles
     Connect faith with everyday life

 

Sing

Key to abbreviations for hymn book titles

Under 5s
You’ve got to move when the Spirit says move (CHY, HON, RSJ)
Come, O Holy Spirit, come (STF, GTG, TS4, WGWG)

Under 12s
This is the day (verse 3) (MP, RSJ)
Let The Fire Fall, Christ Music Kids on Shine Like the Son

12+
Pour out, I will pour out my Spirit (WGWG)
Church On Fire, Hillsong Worship on Touching Heaven, Changing Earth

Songs from Out of the Ark for Churches: Thank you God

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