- To help children learn that Christians believe they can know God because of the Holy Spirit.
- To help them begin to understand what Christians believe about the Holy Spirit.
Things you’ll need
- An electric fan
- Some tissue paper
1 Turn on the fan. Comment that it makes the air move rather like the wind. Ask the children if we can see the wind. Talk about the affects of the wind (eg leaves moving on the trees.) Hold the paper in front of the fan to demonstrate.
2 Ask for two volunteers who are good at running. Ask the children which of the two volunteers they think can run on the spot for the longest. Just as they are about to start, tell one of them that he/she must hold his breath! Give a commentary on them as they are running. Stop them after a few moments if they both keep going. Thank and congratulate both participants. Ask the one who had to hold his breath what difference it made.
3 Tell the children about the Greek word pneuma. Explain that it means three different things: wind, breath and spirit. Refer back to the two illustrations about wind and breath. Introduce the story of Nicodemus:
Nicodemus was a teacher– a very important teacher. He didn’t only teach children, he taught adults as well. His job was to teach people about God. He was an extremely important Jewish leader. Everybody respected Nicodemus. He knew all about God’s rules and what the people must do…and what they mustn’t do. Good old Nicodemus!
Then Nicodemus heard about Jesus. Everyone was talking about him. Nicodemus was curious: ‘I must go and find out about this man,’ he thought to himself. But he didn’t want anyone to know this, because he was supposed to be the teacher. So he started hanging around where Jesus was, pretending to be just passing by, but really, listening carefully to what Jesus said…and watching what Jesus was doing – miracles! Blind people could see, deaf people could hear, people with all kinds of illnesses were being made well. ‘There’s something very special about this man,’ thought Nicodemus. ‘No-one could do these miracles without God’s help. I’d like to have a chat with him.’
The trouble was that Jesus wasn’t very popular with lots of the other teachers. After all, Jesus hadn’t been to university and he was only a carpenter’s son. What gave him the right to teach people about God? The other teachers also didn’t like him because crowds of people followed Jesus everywhere he went. They all wanted to hear what Jesus was teaching, and that meant they weren’t listening to them any more.
‘I can’t go and see Jesus during the day,’ thought Nicodemus. ‘I’ll go and see him at night when no one else is around.’ So, one night Nicodemus went secretly to see Jesus. He knew that Jesus had something he hadn’t got and he wanted to know what it was.
Jesus told Nicodemus that anyone who really wants to know God needs to have the Spirit of God in him.
4 Explain that Christians often call God’s Spirit ‘the Holy Spirit’ and believe that they can know God because his Spirit is with them. Ask the children if they can remember what the Greek work pneuma means. (Answer: wind, breath, spirit).
5 Talk about how God’s Spirit is like wind and breath. Ask the children why the running competition was so difficult for one of them? (Answer: Because he didn’t have any breath in him!)
A Christian viewpoint
Christians believe that in order to live a life that pleases God, you need to have God’s breath or Spirit in you. Without his help it’s too hard, like trying to run without breathing.
Anyone can ask God to help them to do what’s right.
- Turn on the fan and allow the breeze to blow over the children. Ask them to think about the wind. Even though we can’t see it, we can feel it. Talk about how, in some ways, God being with us is like that.
- Think about breath that enables us to live and walk and run. Think about God being like the wind or like breath.
- Allow a few moments of silence, and tell the children that they may want to use the time to ask God to help them to live a life that pleases him.