Explaining Pentecost and the Vocation of Our Faith
Note to the Teacher:
Pentecost is a religious day that many students do not fully understand. Pentecost offers an opportunity to help the youth in your group expand their knowledge and tie that knowledge into their development of vocation and mission in their lives.
The key idea we are exploring in this lesson and scripture is divine empowerment. We will be talking about how the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to go around the globe, nation to nation, person to person, and tell the world about Jesus. For the ice breaker, we will be doing some fun challenges where we look at different paintings of Pentecost from around the world and guess where in the world the paintings came from. The discussion encourages students to consider why allowing the Holy Spirit and Jesus and God into our lives is so important and how we can use our loving God to guide us in life in the way it happened in Pentecost. The activity will focus on allowing students to imagine what Pentecost may have looked like. They will be able to use the ice-breaker activity for inspiration of what to draw. This activity should take about fifty minutes, but it can be adjusted as needed.
- Four pictures of Pentecost, either printed or on a screen
- Paper and colored pencils/markers/crayons for the activity
- Pieces of blank printer paper
Total Time: 50 minutes
1. Ice Breaker: Where in the world? (10 minutes)
Below are links to four pictures that depict Pentecost through various lenses. We will take time to see what Pentecost looks like through the medium of art and to look at how various cultures and parts of the world depict this story.
For set up: You may print out these pictures and have students work in pairs or teams, or you may want to put the pictures in a PowerPoint to share if the group is not physically together. You may also project the pictures in your Sunday school classroom if you have the set up for that.
Instructions: We will be looking at pictures from around the world that depict Pentecost. Your task is to look at the pictures and try to guess where in the world these pictures were painted. Try to look for clues and explain why you chose that area of the world when we all share our answers.
Note to instructor: If you are teaching a younger group of students, give them the names of the countries and have them try to match the country with the painting.
- Japan - Sadao Watanabe (Japanese, 1913–1996), Pentecost, 1975. Hand-colored kappazuri-dyed stencil print on washi paper, 25.5 × 22.75 in. Source: Printing the Word: The Art of Watanabe Sadao (Philadelphia: American Bible Society, 2003)
- India - P. Solomon Raj (Indian, 1921–), Pentecost, 1980s. Batik.
The photos are also available on a Google Slides document.
2. Read Scripture (5 minutes)
Our scripture reading today happens about fifty days after Easter when the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles.
Read Acts 2:1-21.
3. Discussion (15 minutes)
- What happens during Pentecost? How did the Holy Spirit come down on the apostles?
- Can you imagine what that gust of wind would be like? What would be some of the first reactions that come to your mind if you were in the room with the apostles when this happened?
- How would you react if you could suddenly speak in a different language as the apostles did?
- The Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and gave them the ability to speak in a new language so that they could tell the stories of their friend and Messiah, Jesus, to people from all over the world.
- How do you think the Holy Spirit has empowered you to go and share the love of Jesus with others?
- Let’s look back at the pictures we saw earlier. Do you see how even though the people in the pictures look different, they are all showing the same story of Pentecost? This is what happens when we tell the world about the love of Jesus! The family of Christ is so diverse and beautiful because we had people like the apostles go out and share this story with anyone who would listen.
- Who is the first person that comes to mind that you’d want to tell this story to and why?
4. Activity and Discussion (20 minutes)
Take this lesson to the next level by getting students’ imaginations involved by helping them create a storybook of Pentecost. Encourage them to paint their own beautiful paintings of what Pentecost may have looked like and allow them to share those paintings with the class when they have finished. Ask them to include these key elements in their paintings: the fire/Holy Spirit coming down on the group; the apostles who witnessed this and their reactions; and how the apostles went out into the world and transformed the communities around them.
To make a small storybook, take one piece of paper and cut/tear in half the long way (hot dog style) and place the two halves on top of each other. Fold in the middle and staple to create a simple little storybook.
Once the students have finished, have them show the book to everyone and explain why they chose to depict the scenes they drew.
Close in the manner that is typical for you. Consider taking joys and concerns from the students, then asking for a volunteer to close in prayer.