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In Our Own Language (Pentecost 1)

August 11, 2010

The story of Pentecost lends itself to this model of Sunday School – three lessons means one on language, one on wind, and one on fire.  This one is, obviously, on language.  As a bonus, it provides an easy in-church presentation for kids to offer at the Pentecost service which I encourage you to develop as a family service.  More on that will follow…

Things to know about this lesson:

  • You will be teaching students how to say “Peace to you” in a number of languages.  Keep in mind that this is an illustration and not actually a language lesson.  Any respectful attempt at correct pronunciation is just fine!

In Our Own Language

Before the Lesson

Have a look at the phrases. You may want to use a site like Google Translate to hear an approximation of the pronunciation.


  • copies of the phrases you will use (optional for students who can read)

Open with prayer. (see tip sheet)

Introduce the Story

Who remembers what the last holiday we celebrated was? (Easter)

And what happens at Easter? (Jesus dies and is raised)

After Jesus is raised, he tells his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit would give them the power they need to go into the world and tell everyone about Jesus and the things he taught them about God and the right way to live.

Fifty days after Easter, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples. Our story today is about that day.

Read the Story

On the day of Pentecost, all of Jesus’ disciples were together in Jerusalem. All of a sudden a sound like the rush of a huge wind came from heaven and filled the whole house. Tongues of fire appeared and a flame rested on each of them. Everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit gave them the ability to speak in other languages – languages they didn’t know before!

Now there were faithful Jews from every country in the world living in Jerusalem. When they heard the noise, a crowd gathered. Everyone was confused, because each person heard the disciples speaking in their own language. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Aren’t all these people from Galilee? They don’t speak our language. And we all speak different languages from each other. How can we all hear them speaking in our own native language, telling us about God’s powerful works?”

(Acts 2:1-11)


Three things happened when the Spirit came to the disciples. Can you tell me what they were? (wind, fire, languages)

Today, I want to focus on the languages.

What languages do you speak?

What are some languages you don’t speak?

Have you ever been somewhere where everyone spoke a language you couldn’t understand? How did that feel? (Or can you imagine how that would feel?)

Language is pretty important, isn’t it? But there are other ways to communicate with people. How can we communicate without talking or writing?

What were the disciples talking about in everyone’s language? (the powerful works of God)

What works do you think those were? (miracles, creation, Jesus’ resurrection)

The Holy Spirit is still with us, helping us to share the good news of God’s work in the world and of Jesus, God’s Son. We share that news by our words and by our actions so that everyone in the world can understand our message.

Introduce the Activity

Even though we can use our actions and our body language to communicate, it is still helpful to speak to people in their own language. Today, we are going to learn how to say a very important phrase in a few different languages.

When Jesus visited his disciples, after he was raised from the dead, he said this to them: “Peace to you”.

We say a version of this phrase every Sunday: “Peace be with you”.

What does it mean?

(It means we’re friendly and we want others to be safe and happy. It means we don’t want to fight but rather want to live cooperatively. It means there is no reason to worry or be afraid because God is with us.)

Those are good things to say to other people.

In Many Languages

Ideally, you will be able to present this in church (maybe on Pentecost). If so, tell the students now so they know that something is at stake. Reassure them that you will practice each Sunday until then.

If you have older students, hand out pieces of paper with the phrase. Otherwise, you will have to rely on call and response – which is actually more effective anyway.

Choose a few of the languages below (in addition to any languages represented in your group). Either working together or in small groups, practice the phrases until they are memorized.

Peace to you

As-Salaamu `Alaykum (Arabic)

paix à vous (French)

Friede sei mit euch (German)

eirini se sas (Greek)

shalom aleichem (Hebrew)

pace a voi (Italian)

anata ni heiwa (Japanese)

mir vam (Russian)

paz a vosotros (Spanish)

amani (Swahili)


Congratulate everyone.

Which one was hardest? Easiest? Why?

Was there a language you liked the most? If so, why?

Remind everyone about the presentation (if applicable).

Closing Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of language and communication. Send your Holy Spirit to us so that we will be able to use your gifts to share the good news of your wonderful works and of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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