The Cottingley Fairies… an Easter illustration

pexels-photo-138964.jpegBack in 1917, two cousins lived in a town called Cottingley in England. Their names were Elsie and Frances – Elsie was 16, and Frances was 10. Frances’ mum told her never to play down by the river that was nearby their house but Frances disobeyed and went there anyway. One day, she slipped and got her feet wet. When she went home, her mum was very cross, and asked her why she’d gone down to the river. Frances answered that she’d gone down there to see the fairies! Of course, no-one believed Frances, but her cousin Elsie said that she’d seen the fairies as well! Later that day, the girls borrowed Elsie’s dad’s camera and went into the woods and, later, they developed this picture:

(Do a Google Search for “The Cottingley Fairies”)

Soon, people were discussing the girls’ pictures across the country – some people believed them, and some didn’t. The girls were clear though – they really had seen fairies and had taken pictures of them.

(Ask) Who here believes the girls?

But, in 1982, 65 years after they took the photographs, the girls, now old ladies, admitted that they’d faked the pictures, and that the fairies were just dolls that they’d stuck to the logs.

Have you ever tried to convince someone that something ordinary was something much more exciting?

We can read in the Bible about how a group of people did the opposite thing – they tried to convince everyone that something extraordinarily amazing was something else – and it happened just after Jesus died…

Read passage:

Matthew 28:

 1The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord’s angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. 3The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead.

    5The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. 6He isn’t here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. 7Now hurry! Tell his disciples that he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you.”

    8The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went near him, held on to his feet, and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”

 11While the women were on their way, some soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went into the city. They told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12So the chief priests met with the leaders and decided to bribe the soldiers with a lot of money. 13They said to the soldiers, “Tell everyone that Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. 14If the governor hears about this, we will talk to him. You won’t have anything to worry about.” 15The soldiers took the money and did what they were told. The Jewish people still tell each other this story.

So, the two girls in our first story saw something ordinary – a few dolls in a forest – but they made it out to look amazing! Meanwhile, in the story of Jesus’ resurrection, the guards saw something amazing – Jesus was back from the dead! But they spread a story that made the amazing out to look ordinary. However, as Jesus started to show Himself to the people around about – more than 518 – their story started to look a bit suspect.

Please remember this Easter that the Easter story is amazing! We talk about it so much that we forget that it’s incredible, and not made up – but those things are true! This is not the made-up story of a couple of English schoolgirls, or even a group of fishermen 2000 years ago – this is true! God’s son, raised to life, at Easter, for us!

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Welcoming Jesus – Palm Sunday

pexels-photo-572487.jpegImagine for a moment that someone very important was coming to town – maybe the Queen, Donald Trump, a famous sports star or someone else. What would you do? How would you act? How would you prepare? (Make a cake; wave a flag; play some music; do a dance; wave your hands; give flowers)

(Pick a child to be (for example) The Queen – give them a crown and a robe)

Bring “the Queen” in and get the children to respond appropriately (select a child to bow and one to present some flowers. Ask all the children to cheer (respectfully) etc).

The Queen is important, but Jesus is the most important person that has ever been so, one day, when He was visiting a town called Jerusalem, everyone was very excited! Jesus had done so many amazing things and had taught so many people about God and His Kingdom that people were always excited to see Him but, on this particular day, they were even more excited. In fact, they were so excited they tore the branches off trees and took off their clothes and waved them in the air! They sang and shouted and were overjoyed, just because He had come to town. We call that day Palm Sunday because they even used palm branches to celebrate Jesus.

Jesus is just as amazing and special to us today as He was back then – He still does amazing things and still teaches us through His Bible and we can get excited about Him too! The Bible tells us that Jesus is with us here, right now – we don’t need to wave branches and clothes in the air to welcome Him because He is already here, even though we can’t see Him. However, we can do some other things to let Him know that He is special to us – we can talk to Him; we can sing songs to Him and sing songs about Him; we can say thank-You to Him for being by our side all the time. So let’s do that now.

Pray

Who am I?

I’m always fond of playing games like this with my Church family – giving a list of clues as to the identity of someone in literature or on TV and asking them to guess who they are (you know the drill!).

This is a great way to lead into the identity of Jesus, telling people that the Bible gives us clues as to who Jesus is, layering them up as we move through the Scriptures so, by the time we reach the Gospels, it becomes clear.

Here are a few “Who am I?”s to get you started.

I have a brother called George.

I love to splash in muddy puddles.
I am a pig.

Who am I?

(Peppa Pig)

I travel in a van called “The Mystery Machine”
I hang out with a bunch of meddling kids.
My best friend is called Shaggy.

Who am I?

(Scooby Doo)

I have something written on my foot.
I have a girlfriend called Bo.
I live in Andy’s Room.

Who am I?

(Woody)

I have a friend called Patrick.
I work in the Krusty Krab.
I live in a pineapple under the sea.

Who am I?

(Spongebob Squarepants)

I live in Arendelle.
I didn’t want to build a snowman.
I needed to learn to let it go.

Who am I?

(Elsa)

I used to live in darkest Peru.
I now live with the Browns in 24 Windsor Gardens, London.
I love Marmalade!

Who am I?

(Paddington Bear)

I work beneath Wayne Manor.
I enjoy gadgets.
I do not like clowns… or jokers.

Who am I?

(Batman)

The Friend at Midnight / The Persistent Widow skit

The Friend at Midnight / The Persistent widow

Luke 11 & Luke 18

Then Jesus went on to say:

Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.” And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”

He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.

 

Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:

In a town there was once a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, “Make sure that I get fair treatment in court.”

For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about people, I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don’t help her, she will wear me out.”

The Lord said:

Think about what that crooked judge said. Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?

 

Script:

Two old friends (Joshua the landowner, in bold, and the Judge in plain type) pass each other on the street. Joshua is bleary-eyed and doesn’t notice the Judge until the Judge calls out to him.

Joshua? Joshua, hello! Didn’t you see me?

(yawning) Oh, Judge – hello. Sorry, I’m barely awake this morning. Say, you’re a judge – give me some advice, what can a man do about troublesome neighbours?

Hmmm… that’s a tricky o… (phone rings – Judge looks at the handset, shudders and hangs up) Sorry – tell me a bit about your neigh… (phone rings – Judge looks at the handset again and hangs up again). Humph. Tell me about it.

Well, it only happened yesterday – and when I say ‘yesterday’, I mean in the middle of the night! I was in bed, like any sensible man, when suddenly there was a knock on my door.

And what time was this?

Around about midnight.

That does seem a bit… (phone rings, this time he answers) WHAT NOW?! Yes, I know it’s you! Yes… yes… yes… NO! I won’t put a good word in for you! No, I couldn’t care less about you… nor your children. No, I don’t particularly care what God would say either. Good day, madam! (Hangs up) Anyway, where were we?

(nods at phone) That sounded a bit rough.

Oh my goodness – it’s this widow! She phones me day and night – she even camped outside my house for a fortnight until I had the police move her on. She’s due to appear in court in front of me in about a week’s time and she wants me to be all sympathetic to her plight (mocking) – she wants me to put a good word in for her and (inverted commas) “treat her right” – as if I could care less about her little problems! Now you, my friend, I do care about – tell me what happened – who was at the door?

It was my neighbour! He didn’t even give me time to get up – he just guldered through my letterbox – He’d had visitors arrive unexpectedly and he wanted me to lend him some bread to feed them! The cheek! I was still tucked up in my bed so I yelled down through the open window, “Go away and leave me and my wife and children in peace!”

And did he?

Did he, heck! He kept on banging and calling until I had to get up and give him what he wanted!

The cheek of the (phone rings) SHRIEK! (Answers phone) GO AWAY! (hangs up) The cheek of the man.

Well, you know, I almost had to admire him for his persistence and I knew I’d get no rest until I did what he asked… so I got up, got him some bread and that solved the problem.

Well, I’m glad that that guy has a good neighbour to call on (Phone rings) How do I solve this problem?

You might also need to try my tactic. Perhaps you could hear her out?

Oh, alright then. I suppose it’ll stop her bothering me – I don’t care much for God or for people, but I do care about my own peace of mind. (Answers phone and say, mildy sarcastically) Yes, dear?

(men walk off)

Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? He will surely hurry and help them.

Jesus told these stories to help us understand what God is *not* like – God is not like the judge and not like this other man. He doesn’t get frustrated when we pray; He’s not a reluctant listener and He doesn’t answer our prayers in a grumpy way. God is our Father and He loves to hear from and help us.

“God is like the potter”


This is a brilliant activity to use when covering themes such as “making mistakes”, “God’s plan for my life”, “Starting again”, “Being shaped in God’s image”. You’ll need enough Play Dough (or similar) for each child to have a blob.

http://www.scriptureunion.org.uk/LightLive/Activity/The_potters_house-Bible_story-rhyme/82405.id?activityid=5110

 

David vs Absalom Simple Retelling

David vs Absalom

(Props you might want to use: long-haired wig, crown)

David had a lot of sons – in fact he had 19 sons in total! And one of his sons was called Absalom – and Absalom was the trickiest son of them all! The Bible also tells us that no-one in all the land was as handsome as Absalom – he had no defects and long, flowing hair and he was well-liked.

Now, Absalom sometimes made some bad decisions and, from time to time, he fell out with his father, David – and, it seems, that Absalom did not think much of his dad. He spent time out and about in the city and, whenever anyone wanted to complain about something, Absalom used to say that the king didn’t want to listen to them! “If I was king”, he would have said, “I would listen to you…”

Yes, Absalom wanted to be king in the place of his dad! And, one day, Absalom gathered his men and prepared to attack and take the crown for himself!

But David hadn’t been king for so long for no reason – he found out about Absalom’s plot and he and his men went on the run! Yes, once again, David was forced to hide out from someone who was trying to kill him! David still had friends in the city who were loyal to him and, whenever Absalom made plans against his father, David’s friends gave Absalom bad advice and sent warnings to David.

Then, one day, the battle was on – David and his men put on their armour and prepared to go out and fight against Absalom but, just before they went out to fight, David’s men asked David to stay at home – they didn’t want the king to be in danger. David really wanted to fight but he agreed with his men.

So the battle was on in a nearby forest and Absalom was doing well in the fight – he pranced around on his horse until… uh-oh! His hair got caught in a tree! He was stuck! There was no-where for him to go, there was no-one to help him… and then David’s men came closer and closer with their spears and… they killed him! Absalom was gone.

David was told about the news – and how do you think he reacted? He cried and cried. He was so sad. Even though Absalom had hurt David, David still loved him.

That reminds me about how God thinks about us – we make mistakes and sometimes we don’t love God the way that we should but He never stops loving us. Never.

David lived for many years after that and died, an old man, in Jerusalem. One of his sons, Solomon, took over from him and was a wise and good king for the most of his reign, but Israel never had as good a king as David ever again… until a baby was born in Bethlehem almost one thousand years later…

David’s anointing – StoryBox


This story is told using a StoryBox or a StorySack – various items are placed inside the box or sack and, as they’re removed, you tell the next part of the story. Once you’ve told the story, replace the items and ask a child to retell the story, using the items as a prompt.

The items you’ll need are:

A smiley face, an angry face, a bottle of oil/cup, heart-shape, loud speaker (or make your own with a cone of card), a crown, a broken crown, measuring tape,  sheep

The king of God’s people was a man called Saul (CROWN) but Saul had not led as he was supposed to – he had turned away from following God with his whole heart and God decided that another would become king (BROKEN CROWN).

Samuel was God’s prophet (LOUD SPEAKER) – that means he told them people what God wanted them to know – God told Samuel that it was his job to anoint the new king. That just means that he went to meet the new king and was to pour oil over his head, to show that he was special and set apart (BOTTLE OF OIL).

Now, Samuel knew that if Saul heard that Samuel was anointing new kings, he would be furious (ANGRY FACE), so God told him that all Samuel had to do was meet the family of a man called Jesse and make a sacrifice to the Lord with them. I will show you what to do when you get there, said God.

When Samuel met Jesse he saw that Jesse had seven strapping sons! (MEASURING TAPE, showing their height and breadth) Aha! Thought Samuel – one of these guys must be the man God wants to be the new king.

But God spoke to Samuel, as He so often did – don’t look at their looks, Samuel. People always look at the outside, but I look at people’s hearts! (HEART SHAPE)

So, one by one, Jesse’s big, tough sons walked past Samuel and, one by one, God said, “no, not this one – this isn’t my new king”

Finally, all seven sons had walked past and God had said no to them all! Samuel asked Jesse – are these all your sons?!

Well… no, there’s one more – the youngest, David. I didn’t think you’d want to meet him – he’s out watching the sheep. (SHEEP TOY)

Get him, Samuel said so they did – and along came David. Young, handsome and God said, “This one!” So Samuel anointed him and David was God’s chosen king… but it wasn’t as easy as that, because Saul was still between David and the throne and he wasn’t going to give it up easily…