The story of the first Christian Pentecost is full of evocative details, just waiting for a storyteller to draw them out.
If you want the children to hear only what is explicitly on the page, better than a Children’s Sermon on Acts 2:1-21, you might want to read the text to them. I think, however, it is more fun and more effective to let the biblical details spark my imagination and the imaginations of the kids.
When I first published this children’s sermon in 2020, I had the joy of joining in a Zoom service of a church in Seattle that used it in worship. That was amazing. And one of the loveliest things was the way they adapted it to their context. Since they had a number of members with Indian and Chinese heritage, they switched the non-English language bits to Hindi and Mandarin. It made perfect sense and was much more powerful!
A Children’s Sermon on Acts 2:1-21
It was fifty days since Jesus had risen from the dead on Easter morning. That day was also fifty days after the Jewish celebration of Passover. For the Jewish people, this was another big holiday, called Pentecost. People had come to Jerusalem from many different countries to celebrate the holiday.
Jesus’ disciples were not celebrating. They were sad. They were worried. They were confused.
You remember that on Easter and afterward, Jesus had appeared to show his friends that he was alive again.
But ten days before Pentecost, Jesus appeared one last time, and then he left to be with God in heaven.
Now Jesus’ disciples were on their own. They knew Jesus had given them a job to do. They were supposed to keep doing Jesus’ work in the world.
But they also knew that when Jesus did all the wonderful things he did in the world, people arrested him and killed him.
The disciples were afraid to go outside. They didn’t want to get arrested. They didn’t want people to hurt them.
The best thing they could think of was to stay together. They had a big room where they could hang out.
Sometimes they prayed. Sometimes they sang songs. Sometimes they talked about what they should do.
“I think we should go out!” said Peter.
“But I’m scared!” said James.
“Let’s just stay in here,” said Mary Magdalene. “We’ll think of something.”
But then, while they waited, things got a little weird.
“Hey!” said Mary Magdalene, “Peter! You’re hair’s on fire!”
“Quelle horreur!” said Peter, flapping his hands on his head to put out the flames.
“¿Qué dijiste?” asked James. He was totally confused.
“I said ‘How horrible!’ but I said it in French,” said Peter. “What did you say?”
“I said ‘What did you say?’” said James, “but I said it in Spanish.”
“Hey you guys,” asked Mary, “Woher kennst du diese Sprachen?”
“What did you say?” asked James.
“I said ‘How do you know how to speak those languages?’“ said Mary. “But I said it in German.”
“Au fait,” said Peter, “vos cheveux sont en feu!”
“What was that?” Mary asked.
“I said ‘By the way, your hair is on fire!’”
And Mary started flapping her hands on her head to put out the flames.
Well that was just the beginning. As they looked around, everybody in the room had flames above their heads.
I’ll tell you something: their hair was not on fire. The flames they saw were a sign that the Holy Spirit had come to give them strength and courage and new skills to do what Jesus asked them to do.
“Hey, I know!” said Mary Magdalene. “Now that we speak new languages, let’s go out and tell the people about Jesus! There are people in town for Pentecost from all over the world!”
And so that is what they did. They explained to the people outside that long ago, the prophet Joel had promised that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all the people. They explained the prophet’s promise that everyone who called on God for help would be saved. And then they explained about Jesus and invited the people to become his disciples.
And a whole lot of people started to follow Jesus that day.
- I wonder if you’ve ever felt so afraid and confused that you didn’t want to go outside.
- I wonder if when you are afraid if you like to be together with other people — or if you’d rather be alone.
- I wonder what it felt like to suddenly see flames of fire on everybody’s heads!
- I wonder what it felt like to suddenly have the ability to talk other languages.
- I wonder when the Holy Spirit gives you confidence and abilities, what part of Jesus’ work you might do.
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But, if you use it, please do one (or more!) of the following.
- You can let me know that you are using it, either in the comments below, or using the contact form above.
- You can put a little notice in your church bulletin that your children’s sermon is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
- You can support my work over on Patreon. (Just $1 per month brings my children’s sermons straight to your inbox about two minutes after they go live. And every little bit keeps me going…)