Columbus and the Eclipse

  
About 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus was on his fourth voyage to the New World (which, of course, would come to be known as America). However, on this journey, Columbus and his crew ran into some trouble in the shape of woodworm! His ship was full of them and he was forced to beach his ship in Jamaica and make the necessary repairs. However, the ship was fairly badly damaged so they were stranded there for more than a year!

The locals were fascinated by Columbus and his crew and treated them well, bringing them food and helping them whenever they could. Unfortunately, Columbus’ crew weren’t quite as nice to the Jamaicans and often cheated and stole from them!

Eventually the Natives grew tired of this and decided to stop bringing food to Columbus and his crew. The crew wanted to fight with them but Columbus knew that that would case more trouble… and he had a plan… Columbus was interested in other things beyond sea-faring and knew something about astronomy that he thought might help him. So, he called a meeting with the local chiefs on February 29th 1504, just before sunset…

Columbus stood up before the crowd and said: “God is unhappy! He doesn’t like the way you’re treating us by stopping our food and He is going to show how unhappy He is by removing the moon from the sky!”

The sun set and the moon rose and the Natives began to laugh… until…something started happening to the moon… it began to dim and started to turn as red as blood. Then, slowly, very slowly, it began to disappear! The Natives were terrified! They believed that Columbus really could communicate with God and control the moon!

(But what was happening do you think?)

They pleaded with Columbus to undo what he had done and he said that God would indeed undo this frightening thing if the Natives would start to provide the crew with food again. Of course they agreed and the deal was sealed and, soon after, the eclipse ended and the moon was back to its former self, and the problems were solved.

Now, of course, we know that Christopher had no control over the sun and moon and simply knew that an eclipse was near…

However, things are different when it comes to God – the Bible tells us that He has created the sun, moon and stars and that once, when His people were at war, God even stopped the sun in the sky to show that He was fighting for them!

So, God is the God Who is in actual control of the very sun, moon and starts, not in pretend control like Columbus. And this should give us comfort – because the same God who has kept them in motion since the beginning of the World is the same God Who loves us and works for our good. God is good, and He’s good for 365 days a year, but this year, on a Leap Year, He’ll be good to us for 366 days – now that’s special!!

So let’s give thanks to Him.

Easter Sunday, early in the morning…

A short drama taken from John’s Gospel:

  

Cast:            Peter, John and Mary Magdalene

 

Peter and John are sitting in the Upper Room. They’re dressed in dark clothes and are upset.

 

Peter (sad, downcast, talking to the children): Something terrible’s happened – It happened the day before yesterday and I just can’t get over it. Our leader, our master, our teacher, a man called Jesus – someone we thought would never leave us… well, He died on Friday… in fact, He was murdered.

 

John: The whole day was a nightmare – there were some men called Pharisees who were really jealous of Jesus and they wanted to kill Him so they had Him arrested. One of our friends, Judas, betrayed us and told the soldiers were Jesus was. The strange thing was that Jesus allowed the soldiers to take Him away.

 

Peter: He was taken to the palace and, after a lot of questions and people being really unkind to Him, Jesus was taken to a place called Calvary and that’s where they crucified Him.

 

John: It really is that worst thing that could happen because we thought Jesus was someone really special… we thought He was the Son of God… but how can the Son of God be dead!? It just doesn’t make…

 

(Suddenly Mary interrupts them by rushing in)

 

Mary: Peter, John! I’ve seen Him! I’ve seen Him!

 

Peter: Who, Mary? Who have you seen?

 

Mary: Jesus! I’ve seen Him!

 

John: Mary, that’s not fair – you shouldn’t joke about that sort of thing.

 

Mary: I’m not joking! Let me tell you what happened.

 

Peter: OK, Mary, what happened this morning?

 

Mary: (Talking to the children now with Peter and John looking on) Well, early this morning, Salome, James’ mum and I went to the cave where Jesus had been buried so that we could pour some oils and spices on His body – that’s what we do in this part of the world. Anyway, when I got there I discovered something really strange: When Jesus’ body was put in the cave a huge stone was put at the entrance so that no-one could get in but, when we arrived, we found that the stone was rolled away! I looked inside the cave and found that Jesus’ body wasn’t there anymore!

 

Peter (getting angry):       WHAT? What do you mean? Where was His body? Has somebody taken it!?

 

Mary: No, Peter, listen. There were two… I don’t know…. I thought they were men but they were shining. I think they might have been angels. I was really upset when I couldn’t find His body because, like you Peter, I thought someone had taken His body away. I started to cry and I turned around to find someone to see if they could tell me what was going on. (To the children) Do you know the way when you cry that it’s sometimes hard to see because your eyes are full of tears? Well, I was like that and I almost bumped into a man in the garden. I was crying really hard by then and He said: “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” I said to Him: “They’ve taken my Lord’s body! I don’t know where they have put Him…” Then the man said one word; He said, “Mary” and I looked up and… it wasn’t a gardener at all – it was Jesus! Alive! He told me to come and tell you that He was alive so that you can see Him before He goes to Heaven!

 

John: What?! He’s alive?! I’ve gotta go see this for myself! Come on, Peter! Let’s go and look at that empty tomb!

 

(Peter and John run out)

 

Mary: Jesus is alive! This is the best day ever! We thought that everything was lost – we thought He was dead forever but He’s not dead. This means that He really is Who He said He was – He’s the Son of God! I’ve got to run – this is such good news that I’ve got to tell everyone!

 

(Mary leaves)

Rich Farmer / Poor Widow

Here’s a simple puppet script to open a discussion with children about tithing and the different attitudes there may be.

  
The Rich Farmer and the Poor Widow

What’s better, boys and girls: is it better to have loads of money, or to have very little money?

Most people would think it’s better to be rich, but we’re going to hear two stories today to help us think about that… The first story is a story that Jesus told, and the second story is something Jesus saw.

This is Jesus’ story:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer.

(Bring up farmer)

This farmer was a very rich farmer.

(Farmer nods)

In fact, he was so rich that when the time came for the crops to be harvested in from the fields, he had so much food that he didn’t know what to do with it!

(Farmer shakes his head)

But then the farmer had a brainwave!

(Farmer looks excited!)

Do you think his good idea was to throw a party for all his friends?

(Farmer shakes his head)

No. Do you think his good idea was to give the extra food away?

(Farmer shakes his head)

No. Do you think his good idea was to have a special service to give thanks to God?

(Farmer shakes his head)

No! The farmer’s idea was to knock down all his old barns because they were too small.

(Farmer echoes: Too small!)

And then the farmer built bigger barns to put all his food into.

(Farmer says, Hooray!)

The farmer thought it was better to be rich than to give thanks to God. He thought it was better to be rich than to be generous. But Jesus said that this is NOT how God wants us to live. God wants us to, especially at Harvest time, give thanks to God for His goodness to us, and to be generous to those around us.

(Take farmer away)

One day, Jesus and His friends were in the temple. They saw people come. They saw people go. Lots of people who came wanted to give money to the work of the temple – people still do that today in Church and in Sunday School.

Jesus and His friends watched as person after person came in and gave their money in to help the work of the temple (Have a collection box to one side)

(Bring up a puppet – walks along the top of the theatre and shouts something like, “Please use all this money to help people”)

(Bring up another puppet… “Please use this money to fix the temple roof”)

(Bring up another puppet… “Please use this to give to the poor”)

But then along came a lady who didn’t look as though she had much money. (Bring puppet up and puppet acts this out)

Slowly she walked to the collection box and dropped in two little pennies. Then she went away.

Maybe Jesus’ friend were wondering what Jesus would say – would He be cross that the lady didn’t have much money to give to God and to the temple?

But, no Jesus wasn’t cross! He said this, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave money it’s true, but they were very rich! But she is very poor and still she gave money.”

Two very different people – a rich farmer and a poor widow – using money in very different ways. What did Jesus think about that? Why?

Who killed the King? 

This is an adaptation of a script we used in Primary School. I couldn’t find a copy of the original but I remembered the gist of it so wrote my own version. It’s a super drama to think through the motivations of the main players in the Easter Story…

(Those of you who know the old poem “Who killed Cock Robin?” will recognise the inspiration for the format of this).

  
Who killed the king?

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“I” said the guard

“I set to work with nail and spear,

This so-called king I did not fear!

I killed the King.”

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“It was me”, said Judas.

“It was all above board,

I was paid a good price to betray my Lord.

I killed the King.”

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“We Pharisees did!

We were jealous and so, with our lies and deceit,

We made the crowd angry and achieved this great feat.

We killed the King.”

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“We” said the crowd,

“With our cries and demands,

We wanted Him dead and tied Pilate’s hands,

We killed the King.”

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“It was not I”

Said Pilate in fear

“I washed my hands,

And did not hear!

I did not kill the King!”

 

Everybody: Who killed the King?

 

“We” says the World.

“Because of His love,

He came to die for us from Heaven above.

We killed the King.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EGGS

  
Words are brilliant, and there are so many interesting words out there. Here are five words, and I want you to tell me what they mean…

Bibliobibuli

A magic spell?
Someone who reads too much?
A blocked loo?

biffy

An outside toilet?
A little punch on the nose?
A young goat?

Doddle
A little drawing?
Something that’s easy?
A dog having a paddle?

hallux

The name of the dot over an i?
A fox that is kept as a pet?
A big toe?

Easter:

Eggsellent Egg-giving time?
A time when Bouncing Bunnies give away sweet treats?
A special time when Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus?

That’s a bit of an easy question, but if we’re honest, we do tend to think more of chocolate eggs than Jesus at Easter – and the eggs are delicious, so it’s easy to get caught up in the eggcitement of them (huh?!) but I wanted to come along and show you how you can use eggs to help you remember the real meaning of Easter.

EGGS

The first letter in EGGS reminds us that Jesus, God’s Son, was Executed on the first Easter. He was crucified, which was a horrible way to die. The Bible tells us that he did that to take the blame for the wrong things people like you and I do.

The second letter – G – can stand for Good Friday, the day on which this happened.

Letter number three is also a G and reminds us of what happened to Jesus after He was executed. A rich man called Joseph came and took His body and laid it in a Garden Tomb.

And then, finally, S stand for Sunday, because on the Sunday after the Friday – the third day – some ladies came to visit the Garden Tomb. In those days when someone died, people poured perfume over the body. But when they went to pour perfume over Jesus they found that He wasn’t there! His body had vanished! They got into a flap (as you would expect) but to their surprise, they met Jesus Himself, no longer dead but alive again! Because Jesus is God’s Son and because He died to take the blame for things He did not do, God raised Him to life and, what’s more, the Bible tells us that He is alive forevermore!

So, eat your eggs and enjoy them, but use the letters to remind you of the true meaning of Easter – about God’s Son who was executed on Good Friday and laid in a Garden Tomb and was raised to life on Easter Sunday – and it was all for us!

Happy Easter!

An Easter picnic

  
Here’s a way to tell the Easter story using food – give each child the following things on a little plate and, as you tell the story, get them to eat the various things at the right time.

Food: Glass of water, Salted crisps, chocolate coins, lettuce leaves/sugar flowers, small chocolate egg, cinnamon lozenge, ‘Happy Face’ biscuit

Jesus’ friends were sad – they had cried many tears because their friend was dead (Drink water / share some salted crisps)

They thought their friend Jesus was a very special King and now that He was dead, they didn’t know what to think.

Jesus died on a cross on a Friday. A rich man (chocolate coin) called Joseph buried Jesus in a cave in his garden (lettuce leaf / sugar flower). A large stone was rolled in front of the opening of the cave so that no-one could go inside (show (but don’t eat) the egg).

On Sunday morning, some of Jesus’ friends went to visit the tomb where He was buried. In those days, when someone died, people poured spices over the body (remember how the lady a few weeks ago poured perfume over Jesus to get Him ready for His death). Jesus’ friends, including a lady called Mary wanted to pour spices over Jesus (cinnamon lozenge).

Mary and her friends wondered how they would be able to roll away the large stone – it was too heavy for them to move! But they found when they got there, that the stone had been rolled away! (eat the egg)

The ladies looked inside the saw that Jesus wasn’t there! The only thing left behind was the cloths that had been wrapped around His body!

Mary was so sad (salted crisps again) – she wondered why someone had taken Jesus’ body away. She ran through the garden and bumped into someone… She looked up and saw that the person she has bumped into was JESUS! He was alive again! Mary was so happy! (Happy Face biscuit)

Jesus told her to tell everyone that He was alive again – Jesus is still alive today! He died and rose again to take away our sins so that we might one day be able to go to Heaven when we die to be with Him.

Wonky donkeys

Palm Sunday is fast-approaching and that means many of us are looking for donkey-related craft activities! I came across this site that has a few nice ideas (including one involving clothes pegs that I loved):

http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/donkeys-craftsideasactivitieskids.html

Here’s a template for the clothes peg donkeys: all you need is two pegs per child, and the donkeys photocopied onto card!

Donkey template

Prayer Tree

From the @childrensworker Instagram account: a way to tie the Fall and the Cross together.