Witnesses - week 1
About the Theme: Pentecost
In this theme the children learn about the gift of the Holy Spirit and serving as a way of life.
Easter Sunday is the beginning of the Easter Season which lasts for 50 days. The celebration of the Ascension and Pentecost completes the Easter story.
Forty days after Easter, the Church celebrates the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection and told them that he was going back to his Father in heaven. Before Jesus leaves them, he gives his followers a mission. Jesus tells his disciples to be his witnesses. They are to "Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15, 16)
The disciples cannot carry out their mission of spreading Jesus’ message to the ends of the earth without help. Therefore, Jesus tells his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they receive power from God. This power is God's Holy Spirit, who Jesus says will come after he goes away. After Jesus ascends into heaven, the disciples wait for the promised Holy Spirit.
Pentecost (or 'Shavuot' as it is called in Hebrew) is a Greek word meaning ‘fiftieth’. The Jewish ‘feast of weeks’ was held fifty days after the beginning of the grain harvest. It was a thanksgiving feast, celebrating the end of the harvest and commemorating the day God gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Jesus had told his disciples that it was important that they carry on his mission after he was gone. He promised he would give them the strength of his Spirit to do this. At Pentecost the Church celebrates Jesus fulfilling that promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide and help his disciples to understand all that he has taught them. It is celebrated 50 days (7 weeks) after Easter Sunday and brings the Easter season to an end.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost changed the frightened disciples into witnesses who could speak out with courage. The Holy Spirit strengthens the Church today in its mission to continue the work of Jesus and proclaim the gospel to the whole world. Christians are called each day to accept and live lives of joyful service through the power of the Spirit in their lives.
Christians believe that the Spirit of God is active in each person and, in a special way, in the community of believers, which is the Church. It is the work of the Spirit to help people to hear God’s message and to live Jesus’ way of service. The Feast of Pentecost is the celebration both of the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and the trust God places in people to be witnesses in the world. It is sometimes called the birthday of the Church because, filled with courage given by the Holy Spirit, the disciples went out among the people and began spreading Jesus’ message, thus marking the beginning of the Church.
fruits of the spirit
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self – control
power of the Holy Spirit
In the topic ‘Witnesses’ children learn that Christians believe that the spirit of God is active in each person and in a special way in the community of believers which is the Church. The Feast of Pentecost is the celebration both of the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and the trust God places in people to be witnesses in the world.
Lesson 1: Help your child to think about times they might have been in a situation when they saw something happen which was unusual, strange or even wrong and they knew they needed to tell someone. Maybe they thought people would laugh at them, not believe them, or they might get into trouble. Direct your child to the storyboard template to think about what a Christian would do in that situation and give reasons why.
Lesson 2: Jesus appeared to his disciples on a number of occasions after the Resurrection. He greeted them, shared food with them and then he sent them out to continue the message of the Good News. Luke tells how, after his Resurrection, Jesus reassures his disciples that they will not be alone.
Then Jesus said to them “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled”. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures and he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so, stay here in the city until you has been clothed with power from on high.”
Luke 24: 44-49
In Matthew, Jesus is not only reassuring the disciples but telling of their future mission.
The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples. Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And I will be with you always to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28: 16-20
- How do you think the disciples felt when they heard these words?
- What did Jesus mean when he said “...the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled?”
- What do you understand by the disciples being the witnesses of Jesus?
- Why does Jesus want everyone to be baptised?
- Why do you think some of Jesus’ disciples were in doubt?
- What mission did Jesus give his disciples?
These scripture passages have helped Christians today to understand that, like the disciples, they too are called to witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the new life he brings. Wherever there is love, there is God. To be a witness, Christians must have the courage to talk to others about this belief and announce his presence to the whole world so that they can share their joy. Christians are called to announce the Good News of the happiness prepared by God in Jesus so that all people may discover God’s love and know a hope that is stronger than death. Talking about Jesus however, is not the only way to be a witness. In fact, the best way is to practice the gospel. Christians must practice what they preach and be sure that their actions show God’s love.
Imagine you were present in Galilee and heard Jesus’ message about going out to ‘peoples everywhere’. In the light of what you heard, what would you do next? Write an action plan. Record your response on the template below.