“I wish He was still here.” sighed Pigwig*, looking at the picture of Jesus in her Bible. “I mean, really here, so we could see Him.”
I could identify with that! A helpful sermon illustration came to mind.
“Did you know there are sevon billion people in the world?” I asked her. She gaped. That’s an inconceivable number when you’re four.
“However much Jesus loved you,” I went on, “He could only have a little bit of time with each person if He was really here. It would be like trying to sit on Daddy’s lap if he had sevon billion children. It’s hard enough with one brother! That’s why God sent the Holy Spirit, so that He could be inside us, all the time.”
This mystery seemed to make sense to her. Emmanuel, God with us, is also the Holy Spirit, God in us.
Pentecost is a time when children can feel somewhat in awe of God and that’s good! Physical Jesus is a familiar and comforting figure in children’s’ Bibles but fire, wind, power ? While reassuring children that the Holy Spirit is gentle and kind, just like familiar Jesus, we can learn an appropriate sense of awe right alongside them. We know what Jesus did on earth but who knows what the Holy Spirit will do in our families’ lives?
So, how to explore Pentecost? Crafts to illustrate the wind of the Spirit could include kites, windsocks and pinwheels. Explore how this powerful force makes things happen, despite being invisible!
As we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit, we are also celebrating the church’s birthday. Pentecost can be rather lack-lustre in some churches but this is all wrong for a birthday! Let’s decorate our homes and churches with the Pentecostal colours of red and white, bake birthday cakes with 12 candles on them , one for each apostle, eat nine-fruit salad symbolising the fruits of the Spirit and make flame-shaped party hats. Let’s show our children that the Holy Spirit is welcome in our lives. (And if you really want to get excited about Pentecost then you must read Michelle Guiness’ book The Heavenly Party).
Finally, one excellent resource we have found to teach our two (5 and 2) about the fruits of the Spirit is an old classic, “Music Machine” , still available on CD which includes a song explaining each “fruit” in the context of a story. My brother and I owned it as children and the memorised lyrics impacted me hugely growing up. It’s a great resource for the under 10s. While the style is a little retro, the quality of the production is superb and my children request this on every car trip.
Jennie Brandon lives in Cambridge with her writer-theologian husband, Guy and her two children, Pigwig* (5) and Tintin* (2). She loves God, her family, good coffee, blogging (usually at www.laundryinthetemple.com) and her slow cooker.
Photo credit: arjenvr on flickr