Come Holy Spirit

All-age
An all-age service of worship for Pentecost

On your marks

Pentecost has many facets. It celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples with wind and fire. The Spirit transformed a group of frightened men into Apostles: people who were sent out to tell the Good News to the whole world.
We can also think about the presence of the Holy Spirit working within our own lives and our common calling to go out and proclaim the gospel.
It is also in a very real sense the Church's birthday, and the day when we celebrate our relationship with God. We are his children, able to call him, 'Abba, Father!' We are also joint heirs with Christ in his suffering and his glory.

Get set

The following service outline is intended to be flexible. It is designed as a service of the word but it could be modified to provide a 30-minute informal act of worship. The decorations, readings, talk and prayers could also be used within a Eucharist.
There are two teaching slots. Either or both may be used. The acted sermon would need a little preparation but could be done with about seven children or adults.
There are suggestions for both traditional and modern hymns or songs and prayers.

Before the service, decorate the church with symbols of wind and fire. Use orange and red shiny paper to make flames. Display balloons and kites to symbolize the wind.

For teaching slot 1, arrange a table and chairs in a semicircle. Put a card with the name of a country and a flag with a headphone from a personal stereo. Have a microphone for the main speaker. You will need two people for each place.

For teaching slot 2, display a birthday cake with at least seven candles and seven gift-wrapped packages or envelopes. In each package put a card with the name of a gift of the Spirit on one side (see Galatians 5:22) and an illustration on the other: love, joy, peace and so on. You could use fruit for this - strawberry for love, grapes for joy and so on.

Go!

1. A suggested opening hymn or song: 'Come down O love divine' or 'This is the day that the Lord has made' (... the Spirit came).

2. An introduction to the service:
'Today is the birthday of the Church, not just for our church but also for Christians all over the world and those who are with Jesus in heaven. We celebrate the Holy Spirit's coming with power on his disciples. We have decorated the church to remind us that the Spirit came in wind and flames. We will discover how everyone was suddenly able to hear the good news of Jesus.
But, before we worship God, let us remember the times when we have failed to listen to the still small voice of his Holy Spirit.' (Silence)

3. Use a familiar form of confession or the following words:

For the times when we have failed to behave as your sons and daughters: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

For the times when we have failed to proclaim your gospel through indifference, selfishness or bad example: Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

For the times when we have failed to hear or respond to the voice of your Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

May Almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen

4. A special prayer for Pentecost

The traditional prayer (collect) for Pentecost will be found in your usual prayer book. Use that or the following prayer:

God our Father,
you sent your Holy Spirit on Jesus' disciples to give the power to tell the good news.

Help us to hear the voice of your Spirit within us and respond to your call to live as your sons and daughters.

We make our prayer through your son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Amen

5. The Bible reading: Acts 2:1-21
You could use the retelling of this passage from The Barnabas Children's Bible, story 319, pages 278 - 279.

6. Teaching slot 1: You're talking to me!

Act out a United Nations meeting in mime. Ask children or adults to sit as delegates at the table with someone behind each person wearing headphones to act as translators. Have someone in front of the table with a microphone to be the speaker.

Remind the congregation that they may have seen scenes like this of the United Nations or other international conferences on television. The speaker uses his own language and the translators simultaneously translate the speech into the delegates' own language so that everyone hears and understands it at the same time.

We can do this by using skilled linguists and electronic equipment.

We do not know how the crowd understood the apostles' teaching. Many of them would have known Aramaic, the language that Jesus and his followers spoke. Most people spoke some Greek. But it was as if the apostles were speaking to each person individually.

The effect would have been something like a United Nations meeting. Suddenly people heard the Good News being spoken to them in a new and exciting way that they could understand.

7. Two more suggested hymns or songs: 'We have a gospel to proclaim' or 'All over the world'.

8. At this point the creed or an affirmation of faith could be said.

9. Suggestions for prayers:
Use the following petitions as guidelines

Let us be still, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, pray to our heavenly Father for all our needs
...

Heavenly Father, we pray for your Church. Help it to continue to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the whole world.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on them.

We pray for the leaders of the world. May they act with integrity for the common good. Help them to bring about the peace and justice that is the gift of your Spirit.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on them.

We pray for those who are victims of war and natural disaster, the sick, the homeless and hungry. We pray for the agencies that bring help and relief to the needy.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on them.

We pray for ourselves, your disciples meeting here today. Help us to hear and respond to your Spirit acting within us. Give us courage and sensitivity when this involves making difficult decisions.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of your saints, we commend those who have died in faith, those who we love and see no longer, and those whose faith is known to you alone. May they come to enjoy your presence forever. (Silence)

We sum up our prayers in the words that Jesus gave us, saying together:
Our Father...

Heavenly Father, we believe that your Spirit is with us now. Help us to listen to his still small voice and proclaim your glory in our lives. Merciful Father, accept our prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

10. Another hymn or song: 'Come thou Holy Spirit, come' or 'Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me/us'

The collection could be taken at this point.

11. Teaching slot 2: Birthday gifts!

As part of the collection, bring up the birthday cake and the packages or envelopes.

Speak about how we celebrate birthdays: by having a party, receiving cards, gifts and so on. Today is the Church's birthday. On the first Pentecost, ten days after Jesus had ascended to heaven, his friends heard the sound of a powerful wind. Then something like flames appeared on everyone's heads. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to help us to be like Jesus and to carry on his work.

Invite different people to open the packages and read out the name of the gift. Invite people to give examples of these gifts in action.

12. Final prayers
God our Father, you fulfilled Jesus' promise
by sending your Holy Spirit on his disciples,
and empowering people of every nation through the centuries.
Enlighten us by the power of that Spirit so that
we may speak your praise and tell others of your saving work.
We make our prayer through you son, our saviour Jesus Christ
Amen

... followed by a special prayer of blessing and/or the words:

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen

13. A final hymn or song: 'Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost' or 'Colours of day dawn into the mind'

After the service, you could share the birthday cake, and, if you have space and a breeze, fly the kites to continue the celebration.