Summary of Lesson Activities:
Celebrate the birth of the church at Pentecost with a birthday party! Students will play a party game and decorate and eat Pentecost cupcakes. [Note: 1st - 6th graders visited this workshop.]
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Read and reread the scripture to be read, so as to be able to tell it dramatically.
- In the hymnal mark #393 (Spirit of the Living God). Review how this hymn sounds (see resources).
- Wash a metal table in the kitchen.
- Place tablecloths over the tables in the Social Hall.
- Locate enough cups to have one per student. Prepare two pitchers of ice water. Put the pitchers, cups, and napkins out in the Social Hall.
- Place red decorating materials in bowls. Place one set of decorating materials in the kitchen and one in the Social Hall. Place the appropriate number of cupcakes in the kitchen and in the Social Hall.
- Write the key verse on the white board of the easel. Have an eraser handy.
- Place chairs in a circle towards the middle of the room.
- Items in kitchen: table knifes, bowls, spoons, clean-up supplies
- Items in pantry closet: Napkins, Cups, Plastic table cloths
- Items in the refrigerator (in weeks after week one): opened cans of frosting
- Cupcakes (will be delivered each week- one per student, cupcakes made without milk will be available on weeks when dairy allergy students are scheduled)
- An easel with a white board; appropriate marker and eraser
- Purple Adventure Bibles; one with tabs (Law, History, etc.)
- Bible tab writing kit: tabs, fine-line Sharpie pen
- A Methodist hymnal
- Wet wipes
- Unopened cans of white frosting
- Red food decorations: red sprinkles, red licorice strips, etc. (have 2 sets of decorations)
- Rolls of red crepe paper
Gather everyone in the Social Hall sitting in chairs set up in a circle. If there are extra chairs remove them and gather everyone together closer. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
Say: Today we are celebrating a birthday party!
Ask: Do you know whose birthday it is [or is coming up]? (accept a few answers)
Say: We are celebrating the birthday of the church. Not just this church, but Christian churches all around the world celebrate a birthday on a day we call Pentecost. This year Pentecost is on May 31st. To celebrate our birthday party we will play a party type of game and we’ll decorate and eat some birthday cupcakes. You will notice that we have two different Cool Disciple groups meeting together today because, when you have a party – the more the merrier! Those of you who are older, this is a chance to show off your good behavior and your Bible skills, for the younger students. First, let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. [You may ask one or two students to lead the Lord’s Prayer.]
A suggestion: Dear God, Thank you for helping us to learn about your love. Thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit as our comforter and our friend. May the Holy Spirit help us to share the Good News about Jesus, in what we say and how we act. (End with the Lord’s Prayer) Amen.
Say: Let’s find our story in the Bible.
Distribute purple Adventure Bibles. Ask students to share Bibles, especially with those children who are just learning to read.
Ask: If we want to read something in the Bible that happened after Jesus was raised from the dead, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (new)
Say: The New Testament includes stories about Jesus’ life and death and his resurrection, and stories about the start of the Christian church. That is what we will read about today: how the Christian church got started on the day of Pentecost. The church got started because of something very wonderful that happened on that day.
Say: We find our story in a book of the Bible called Acts. Acts is the first book right after the Gospels.
Remind them of the quick way to find the Gospels in the New Testament. Have everyone find Acts, chapter 2.
Ask: What are the Gospels? (the first 4 books of the NT - Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John)
Say: The word “gospel” means “good news.” It is very good news that Jesus came to earth to teach us about God’s love for us. It is very good news that Jesus, though he was killed on the cross, was raised by God from the dead. His death and his coming back to life means that our sins are taken care of – we are forgiven. It is good news indeed! Acts is located just after the Gospels. The events in the book of Acts occur after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Acts tells about the coming of the Holy Spirit during a festival that was called Pentecost. Acts is the only book of History in the New Testament. If you have your own Bible today, be sure you receive a tab for the History section of the New Testament of your Bible.
[Show the classroom Bible with tabs. Have the Shepherds do tabs for students who bring their Bibles. Use the classroom Bible with tabs as an example.]
If this is a week early in the Rotation, have everyone follow along as you read the scripture (see below). Towards the end of the Rotation, ask the students if they can tell you the story. [Ask questions such as, “Who was gathered together?” “What celebration was occurring?” “What happened?” “What did it mean?”] Have them check their Bibles for accuracy.
In weeks when you are reading from the Bible…
Say: Listen as I tell the story of what happened when the Holy Spirit came to the followers of Jesus on Pentecost and the church got started.
Read aloud Acts 2:1-4, describing “they” in verse one, as the disciples.
Ask: Did you hear me read the word “tongues” twice in that passage?
Was it talking about tongues, that part of our mouth? (no)
Say: The word tongues was used in two different ways – the first time it is used to describe “tongues of fire” that came to rest on the heads of Jesus followers.
Ask: I wonder what that looked like? (accept a few answers)
Say: Tongues of fire resting on people’s heads sounds very mysterious. The second way the word “tongues” was used was to describe speaking in foreign languages, “they began to speak in other tongues.”
Ask: Now the disciples, they just knew these other languages, right?
Say: No, the disciples were speaking languages that they had never spoken before! And other people heard and understood what they were saying! They were speaking about the wonders of God.
Read aloud Acts 2:5-8 and 12-13.
Say: For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us,
The class says: Thanks be to God!
Ask a student to read aloud the “Did You Know?” note on page 1199. (It's about Peter & Pentecost)
Say: Peter was a disciple of Jesus. He’s the same disciple who denied, three times, that he was a follower of Jesus! Now here he is, explaining to a large crowd about what was happening and how important Jesus was. Some people didn’t understand what was happening; they just assumed that the disciples had been drinking too much wine.
Ask: What was happening; what caused the wind and the tongues of fire?
Say: On Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to the followers of Jesus. Jesus had promised that God would send the Holy Spirit.
Ask: Is the Holy Spirit just wind and flames? What is the Holy Spirit? (allow answers)
Say: You know, sometimes it helps us to understand someone if we know something about them. Sort of like if I was wondering about that person over there [point out a person in the Social Hall] and I found out that he/she works at the World Peace Café, then I would know that he/she makes smoothies.
Ask: Do you suppose it might help us to understand the Holy Spirit if we knew what work the Holy Spirit did?
Say: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be a comforter and a friend.
Ask: Can you picture if you are troubled, having someone hug you in a great big comforter?
Say: That gives you a picture of what the Holy Spirit is like. It may not be like wind and flames but it helps us understand the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a gift sent by God to help us. [Share an example of the Holy Spirit acting in your life.]
Ask: What are other words that describe the work of the Holy Spirit? (accept a few answers, including: coach; teacher; helps people do God’s work; etc.)
Collect the Bibles.
Play a Party Game
Say: Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Christian Church. This is because on the day when the Holy Spirit came, about 3,000 people became followers of Jesus. The actual day of Pentecost is May 31st. Our birthday party needs a party game. Let’s play a version of musical chairs that helps us review our key Bible verse for Pentecost.
Refer to the easel with the key verse. Read them the verse (including the Acts, 2, 38).
Mark one chair by tying a piece of red crepe paper on it. Move the chairs to make the circle bigger. Play like regular Musical Chairs (“music” plays – you sing the hymn Spirit of the Living God & kids walk around the outside of the chairs. When you decide to stop singing, everyone sits in a chair. ) Whoever sits in the “marked” chair gets to erase one word of the verse. Then everyone says the verse, with the missing word. Continue playing, erasing words and reciting from memory, until all the words are gone or every-one has had a chance to erase a word.
Say: Everyone who believes in God can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We need to ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us every day. The Holy Spirit filling the disciples in Jerusalem helped them to tell others about Jesus. Let’s do something fun that shows us what could happen when the Holy Spirit helps us to do God’s work.
Experience the Holy Spirit:
Have the class stand up. Give a roll of red crepe paper to each Shepherd.
Say: This red crepe paper represents the Holy Spirit. Remember in our story when the Holy Spirit came, it was like wind and tongues of fire, that spread out among the people in the room. We’re going to spread the Holy Spirit around the room.
Your Shepherd will toss the paper to someone but hold on to the end. When you receive the crepe paper you say: “The Holy Spirit is with me.” Then you wrap the paper around your wrist. Then say: “I share the Good News” and toss the crepe paper to someone else (preferably someone who hasn’t received it yet).
Have the Shepherd toss the crepe paper , preferably across the room, so the “Good News” will get all crisscrossed saying, “I share the Good News”. The receiver says, “The Holy Spirit is with me.” You may need to suggest that the paper stays loose or it will rip. Even if it does, it doesn’t matter, keep tossing and wrapping until all have experienced receiving the Holy Spirit.
Say: Look at how much the Good News has spread around the room!
Have students “dismantle” the crepe paper…
Say: As we all get unwound, tear off a small piece of the crepe paper and tuck it in your pocket or in your sleeve. Later, tell a parent or friend what it means to share the Good News and that the Holy Spirit is with you because you believe in Jesus.
When everyone is dismantled…
Say: The coming of the Holy Spirit was strange and miraculous. Nothing like it had ever happened before. Luke, who was the author of Acts, would have used words that the people at that time could understand. In Bible times fire would have been an essential part of their lives – they used fire to cook, and for heat. Fire was understood as something that was powerful, something that got your attention! The same was true of wind.
Ask: How do you suppose the people in Bible times used wind? (sail boats, dry laundry)
Say: A loud wind would have been something that people noticed. And so it was with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Luke and the other disciples recognized it as something that was useful, put powerful.
Decorate birthday cupcakes:
Break the class into two groups by grade. Oldest grade goes into the kitchen to gather around the metal table; other grade gathers around the tables in the Social Hall. You go with one of the groups and your helper (or a Shepherd) goes with the other group. Make sure they have a copy of this page of the lesson.
Wash hands either in the sink (for the kitchen group) or by using wet wipes (for the Social Hall group).
Ask: Who remembers why the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Christian Church? (it’s when the church got started because the Holy Spirit gave the followers of Jesus the power to tell others about Jesus)
Say: A birthday party wouldn’t be complete without birthday cake, so let’s decorate a cupcake with items that are the colors of fire because the Holy Spirit was described as “tongues of fire.”
While they decorate:
Ask: When the Holy Spirit came, the followers of Jesus had a new power that enabled them to tell others about Jesus. The Holy Spirit is with us today too.
Say: What are ways that we can tell others about Jesus? (allow all answers)
Do you suppose the things we do and say, are a way of telling others about Jesus? What does it say to your friends if you say, “I’m going to church.”
How about: “I’m going to choir practice.”
What about the way we act? (accept all reasonable answers: being kind to others, not fighting, being helpful)
When anyone is ready to eat his or her creation, have everyone gather in the Social Hall. Sing happy birthday to the church. Serve water in cups.
Say: May the Holy Spirit be at work in your life. Come Holy Spirit.
If you have extra time:
Play another round of wiping away the words to the key Bible verse with you choosing a word each time to erase.
- Some lesson ideas come from previously posted lessons here at Rotation.org.
- The Big Book of Bible Games. Ventura, CA: Gospel Light, 1996. Page 117.
- To hear the song Spirit of the Living God, visit: http://misslink.org/chapel/sound/spiritot.mid
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2009 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material
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