Today is Penectost Sunday, the birth of the church.
The start of a new era for the disciples.
The disciples were in a locked room, they were scared, they didn’t know what was going to happen next. They were doing what Jesus had instructed them, waiting, they were to wait in Jerusalem. Jesus had told them that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came, and that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
So, they waited. It was the day of Pentecost and they were all together, when a sound like a violent wind surrounded them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
There were many people in Jerusalem from every nation as they were there to celebrate the festival of Pentecost, they heard the noise of the wind and went to investigate. What they found was the disciples sharing the Good News of God in their own languages, this confused the gathered crowd. They couldn’t understand how this could happen. Peter stood up and raised his voice. He had never addressed such a crowd of people, yet he did it with confidence and he explained.
It was that day that the disciples knew what was to happen next, they were to preach the Good News of Jesus, his death and his resurrection. It was that day that the church was born.
The followers of Jesus soon became known as Christians.
It isn’t the church we have today, as it didn’t have walls it was a collection of people who believed in Jesus. They met together and worshiped God, prayed, sang hymns of praise and shared the bread and the wine. The disciples taught everything that Jesus taught them. This was the early church. The word ‘church’ comes from the Greek Kyriakos, which means ‘belonging to the Lord’. The first church was not a building made of bricks but it was the people that met together and worshiped God.
The house church was born because the religious leaders of the time felt threatened by the Christians, and they were hunted down and put to death or thrown in prison. So they had to meet in secret in each others homes. It wasn’t until Constantine became a Christian that things began to change. Christianity became an accepted religion, people no longer had to meet in secret, and special buildings began to be built for public worship, meetings and celebrations. Everyone was welcome.
From around the tenth century, towers were added to the west end of the nave. The church tower provided a place of safety; where people of the village could hide if there was trouble. The tower had bells that warn the people if there was trouble coming. They also rang them at times of celebration like weddings, they were most importantly used to call people to worship.
Pentecost is not only a time to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit but also a celebration of the church.
Making churches could be a good activity for the children today, as well as perhaps making Pentecost cakes to share after the service.
If you would like a pattern for a church this website has printable patterns to make models of different churches, scroll down the page to find the downloadable churches ready to cut out, colour and stick together.