1. Students should understand the icon and its characters.
  2. Students should know that “Pentecost” means “fiftieth” and is celebrated on the fiftieth day after Pascha.
  3. Students should understand why Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


  1. Review the icon; what do they already understand? The disciples are gathered in the upper room (What last happened there? the Last Supper), in some icons each has a flame above his head (Why?), the book of the Gospels sits in the center, by which the Holy Spirit has revealed the spiritual presence of Christ to the world, the little crowned figure seated in the middle is the world! There is an empty place at the top of the horseshoe formed by the apostles; who will fill this place at the Second Coming? The icon shows only 12 apostles; how many believers were actually there?


  1. Scripture readings:

Gospel: John 7:37-52, 8:12. Read also John 14:16-17, 15:26-27, 16:7-13.

Epistle: Acts 1:1-12

Old Testament: Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29, Joel 2:23-end, Ezekiel 36: 24-28


  1. Songs of the Feast:

Troparion: Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit; through them thou didst draw the world into thy net, O Lover of man, glory to Thee.

Kontakion: When the high One descended, confusing tongues, he divided the nations. And when he distributed the fiery tongues he called all to one unity.  Wherefore, in unison we glorify the most Holy Spirit.

O Heavenly King: O heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of light, Come and abide with us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save, O good One, our souls.


  1. Discussion questions:

What happened at Pentecost? Did the apostles obey Jesus’s commandment to “Go forth and preach”? Who descended?  Who is the Holy Spirit? In what sacrament do we receive the Holy Spirit? (Chrismation) How does the Spirit, God Himself, dwell in us? How can we tell He does – did we see tongues of fire? This is a great mystery, as are all the sacraments.  Why is He called “Comforter”? In our prayer, “O heavenly King” we ask the Holy Spirit to come, why? (Jesus commanded us in Luke 11: 9-13.)

Why do we decorate the Church in green? (as a sign of the life the Holy Spirit brings us) In what way is Pentecost the birthday of the church? (the first Christians were baptized by the apostles)

What is speaking in tongues? (speaking in other languages as the apostles did at Pentecost) How is this different from the tower of Babel? (Here we see harmony and subjection to God’s action; there we see confusion and disunity from an attempt by man to reach God by his own means, resulting in hatred, racism, and war.)

Why were there so many Jews in Jerusalem from all over the world at that time (50 days after Passover) anyway? (They are also celebrating Pentecost, the giving of the Law 50 days after Passover on Mt. Sinai; it is also the “Feast of Weeks” and the thanksgiving for the harvest) So the Old Covenant Pentecost, the Law, is supplanted by the New Covenant Pentecost, the Spirit (See Jeremiah 31:31-34). But even in the Old Testament readings, we see the Holy Spirit: in Numbers (How? Moses distributes the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the 70 elders), in Ezekiel (a new spirit inside our hearts).

How do we end the Pentecost celebration? (with kneeling vespers, we again kneel in a spirit of penitence, which we will keep until the next Paschal season) What does it mean to say, Christ saves but the Holy Spirit sanctifies? What does it mean to be a Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19)? How can we desecrate that Temple? How can we renew the gift of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives? How might we ask the Holy Spirit to guide and fill us?


            6.   Close with prayer.