In John 14, Jesus reassures his disciples that they do not be afraid because he is leaving his peace with them. Whatever they will face in the future, especially when he is gone, he is not leaving them alone. I love using play dough mats in group situations because they are a very non- threatening way to help children to creatively explore how Bible stories relate to their own lives. This play dough mat is a conversation starter about the worries that children are facing in their own lives and also a way of helping them to know that they, too are not alone. Some children might choose to use the mat as a way of giving their worries to Jesus. Print out the mat at this link!
Hearing about war can be frightening. It’s hard for children to know what they can do to help. Here are some interactive prayers to help all ages to pray for peace.
You will need: one feather each
Feel the weight of the feather- how light it is.
Think of the things that worry us and weigh us down with stress. Think of the people in the world who are worried because they have nowhere safe to go. Ask God to lighten the load of that worry and stress.
Rub the strands of the feather against the grain. Ruffle and disrupt the feather.
Pray for all of those who are living disrupted lives because of fear, violence and war. Pray especially for people who are refugees from war and have to leave their homes and jobs to travel to a safer country.
Smooth the feather out.
Pray for those who work to bring peace to troubled areas of the world, even when it feels that there is no hope. Ask God to help them be wise and to stay safe.
Feel the softness of the feather.
Pray for softening of hearts amongst those who start the violence, those who are angry, those who cause disruption and war, those who act out of hate and greed. Ask God to change their hearts and to bring his peace.
Hold the feather.
Pray for yourself. Ask God to fill us with his peace when we are angry, worried or stressed. Pray that he will keep us safe and help us to bring peace to others.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13
You will need: seed paper, coloured paper, pens, glue dots, glue, card, scissors,
Think about the new year and what our hopes for the next 12 months are. How would you like to see things getting better for yourself? Your friends and family? The world?
Talk about Jesus being the Light of the World and that, with him, however dark and bad things seem, there is always hope that light and better days will come. Jesus gives us hope of new life, even when everything seems hopeless.
Make a card signifying ‘hope.’ You might use colours or symbols (such as the rainbow) to show hope for better things. Attach a strip of seed paper to the front of the card with a glue dot, so that it can easily be removed.
Keep the card for yourself or give to to someone else. Write hopes for the coming year onto the seed paper and plant it in the garden. As the seeds grow, pray that your hope in what God can do will also grow.
Remembrance Sunday can sometimes be a tricky day with lots of questions and emotions. This collage craft helps to pick up on some of the themes of the day, gives children time and space to chat and ask questions and provides an opportunity to discuss what it will be like when God makes everything new and there is no more war or pain.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Revelation 21: 3-5, NLT
You will need: Red paper of varying patterns and textures, black paper, backing paper, glue
Ask children children to choose some paper as their collage backing paper and then tear up red paper to make petals for their poppies. They might like to draw a poppy shape on the page first and then fill it in, or just go with a freestyle collage. Finish with black paper in the centre of each poppy.
As you tear and stick the paper down, use the time to chat. Discussion could include lots of things:
- relate the tearing of the paper to the destruction of war and what it must have felt like for the soldiers and their families
- Talk about how the churning up of the soil and the distribution of the seeds during the fighting led to the poppies growing there the following year. Life emerged where there had been death.
- Think about God’s kingdom as talked about in Revelation 21: 1-7, where there will be no more death or crying or pain
- What questions do children have? what do they wonder about war or peace or what God’s kingdom will be like?
- use the words of the Revelation verses to help you think about people who died or who were injured in the wars and also about their families.
- Light a candle and put the poppy pictures around it and ask God to wipe away the tears of all of those who are grieving or in pain today because of war.
We used this Illustration to tell the story of the Wise and Foolish Builders (Matthew 7:24-27) at Cafe Church- a new intergenerational service that we’ve started since restrictions eased a little bit. One of the Cafe church team came up with the idea and set up the following display. I was a bit dubious to begin with because I couldn’t see how it was going to work- but I didn’t know the hidden secret!
Both structures look exactly the same. We read the story from a simple translation of the bible and, when we got to the part about the wind blowing, the team member waved a hairdryer at the structure on the right hand side. The ‘wind’ blew the cups down. When we got to the structure on the left hand side, however, the structure didn’t budge at all. I couldn’t figure out why not, because nothing was stuck down. It was only when I lifted one of the cups up and looked inside that I saw the answer…
Each cup in the second structure was half filled with craft concrete. This gave the cups a really sturdy weight that was immovable in the path of the hairdryer and gave a nod to building a structure on ‘rock.’
You will need: 20 paper cups, craft concrete, hairdryer
Make up the craft concrete according to package directions and half fill 10 of the paper cups. Wait for the concrete to dry. Stack the empty cups in one pyramid and the concrete filled cups in another pyramid and use your hairdryer to help tell the story!
In Exodus 16, God first gives the Israelites manna as food in the wilderness. It’s describes as being like ‘flakes.’ These crackers aren’t like flakes exactly, but making them will help children to imagine themselves into the story.
You will need: 100g plain flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil, 3 tablespoons of water, a rolling pin, a mixing bowl, a fork, a baking tray, greaseproof paper, a knife or pizza cutter, an oven, honey
Preheat the oven to 180˚C and grease a baking tray or line it with greaseproof paper. Mix the dry ingredients together in the bowl and then add the oil and water. Mix together with a fork or your hands until a dough is formed. Roll the dough out thinly and place it on the baking tray. Prick the dough all over with a fork and then cut it into squares with a knife or pizza cutter. Put the baking tray into the oven and bake for 15-20 mins until the crackers are starting to turn light brown.
When the crackers have cooled, share them out and try them. Children might want to spread a little bit of honey on them, as we are told that the manna tasted like ‘wafers made with honey’ (Exodus 16:31). As you eat, talk about the story of God giving manna in the wilderness.
- How would you have felt to see the manna on the ground for the first time?
- Why do you think God gave the rule about only gathering what was needed?
- What would you think of having this every day for many years?
- What foods do you eat every day?
Thank God for the foods you enjoy. Ask him to show us how to help those who don’t have enough to eat.