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

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…

What’s in a name?

Tomorrow (9th April) is a special day – it’s “Name yourself Day”, a day when you can have a think about what you’d like to be called if you weren’t called what you are called.

What might you call yourself?

When a guy called George was asked that, he went a bit too far and actually changed his name so that he has the longest name in the world today. He’s now called: Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined. His name used to be George.

The longest ever name belonged to a man born in1904. His name is Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegel-stein-hausen-berger-dorft Senior

I wonder who has the longest name here today? (find out by a show of hands)

The longest Christian name today belongs to a Hawiian boy:

Kananinoheaokuuhomeopuukaimanaalohilo.

(Kan-an-in-o-he-a-o-kuu-hom-eo-puu-ka-im-ana-alo-hilo)

The name means “The Beautiful Aroma of My Home at Sparkling Diamond Hill is Carried to the Eyes of Heaven”. In Hawaii, it is the custom to give children long, descriptive names. Dont worry though, they call him Joe, of all things, for short.

Now, these names are rather brilliant, but they’re far from being the best name ever. The Bible tells us that there is one name that is the best name, because it says that this name is the one that comes above all other names – and that is Jesus’ name!

Philippians 2 says this:

Jesus became like one of us… He obeyed God and even died on a cross. (and we know He did this to forgive us for our sins if we follow Him)
Then God gave Christ the highest place and honoured his name above all others.
So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

So Jesus’ name is the most important name, because He died for us and because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

So, remember, next time you hear of a new baby’s name, or learn a new friend’s name, or even think about changing your own name, remember the name that is more important than all other names – the name of Jesus, because He loves us, He died for us and He rose again and lives today, praying for us!

Explaining ‘authority’

I was talking with a group of children about Jesus’ authority to forgive sins and heal people. Some of them struggled with the idea of ‘authority’ so we talked about it by showing them a number of cards of people who help us:

doctor, dentist, bus driver, teacher, firefighter, police officer etc

We then asked some questions, such as:

Who has the authority to give me medicine if I am sick?
Who has the authority to drill holes in my teeth?
Who has the authority to drive you home from school?
Who has the authority to drive a fire engine?
Who has the authority to give you homework?
Who has the authority to put criminals in prison?

If someone else (like me!) tried to do any of these jobs I’d be in trouble because I don’t have the authority to do these things – I’m not able to do them, I’m not allowed to do them. These people can do these jobs because of who they are.

When it comes to forgiving sins and healing people, Jesus has the authority to do these things because of who He is – He is God’s own son, and the only one who has lived a perfect life.

What other things does Jesus have the authority to do? authority-boss-red-man

Explaining ‘ransom’

I’ve been mulling over how to explain the term “ransom” to younger children, to help with a Club I’ve been involved with – it’s a difficult term to understand at the best of times, especially if you’re very young.

Magic_Beans-icon

With that in mind, I thought about how what we pay reflects the ‘preciousness’ of the thing we’re buying, and also indicates who is involved in the transaction, so I thought of a few things you might want to ‘ransom’, or buy back from a particular person, and what you might be willing to pay…

Mr Tayto (the face of a brand of crisps here in Northern Ireland – you might also use Julius Pringles (for that is apparently his name!)) has taken your favourite hat – what might you pay him to get it back? Potato

Bob the Builder has borrowed your hammer – what would you give him to get it back? Rawl plugs/screws/nails

Optimus Prime wants to sell you some furry dice for your car – what might you pay him with? De-icer or similar

Lady Gaga has taken your sausages to wear – what might you use to convince her to give them back? Hairspray

You want to buy Jack’s cow – what might he sell her for? Magic Beans

When it comes to buying something back, or paying a ransom for something, we can use all sorts of things to buy and swap. But did you know that we need to be bought back too? We are all caught up in sin – which means the wrong things we do – it’s like sin has trapped us and owns us and we can’t get out of it. So God wanted to buy us out of it – but because we are so special to Him He didn’t use potatoes or magic beans or even gold or money. We are so precious that God gave the most precious thing He has to ransom us – His own Son.

(Mark 10:45 is the verse we’re using to hang this on)

 

Storytelling Easter Eggs

Easter is almost upon us again and that means that, like me, your house has probably got a few of these in it (show Easter egg).

What is the best thing about Easter eggs? (take answers – they have a packet of sweets with them; they’re delicious; they’re made of chocolate; they’re a cool shape etc)

(If you have enough types of Easter eggs to hand, you could vote on your favourite egg)

I think the best thing about Easter eggs is that they’re really good storytellers!

Y’see, Easter eggs can tell us the story of the first Easter… here’s how:

The people of Israel were trapped, as though inside a box (show egg in box) – they weren’t really trapped inside anything, but they were trapped in the ways they thought and lived – they were always trying to live perfect lives and they kept on getting it wrong and making mistakes. They were worried that God would not love them if they kept on making mistakes but they didn’t know what else to do, so they felt sad and hopeless and trapped.

But then Jesus came. Jesus was not like the other people – He showed them how to live (take egg out of the box). He showed them what God is like; He showed them how to love; He healed them when they were sick… He was perfect when they were not. It was like He freed them from a wrong way of thinking and showed them that there was another way to live. (Show sweets that come with the egg) He made their lives sweeter and gave them good things.

(Put egg aside)

But they still worried about the mistakes they made – they needed someone to take away all the bad things… so Jesus helped them there as well. He died on the cross to take the blame for all the wrong things in the world ever, so that people could be sure that God loves them and that these wrong things weren’t getting in the way.

(Open the box out to show a cross (this is something you might like to prepare earlier))

Jesus died and was buried in a cave, and a large stone (show egg) was rolled in front of the cave’s entrance.

And that was the end of the story…

Except it wasn’t! The egg has something else to tell us: on the third day after His death, some of Jesus’ friends went to visit His grave and they found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance of the cave! When they looked inside the cave, they found that it was (open egg) empty!

Jesus is God’s Son, and Jesus is perfect, so He didn’t stay dead! He rose again and is still alive today!

So that’s how an Easter egg can tell you the story of the first Easter – the people were boxed up in wrong ways of thinking, but Jesus came to help them think in a different way; He gave them good things and died in their place. He was buried in a cave, but came back to life again. Forever!

Christians are like… a loo roll!

  
Talk about family resemblance – how people in a particular family might all look, sound, act the same way. For example, the Simpsons are all yellow; the Pig family in Peppa Pig are all pigs and Anna and Elsa in Frozen both sure do like to sing.

I thought I’d bring in this picture of my family to show you again – so gather round.

(Unveil the ‘picture’, which turns out to be a mirror!)

It’s you! Because YOU are my family. The Bible tells us that if we follow Jesus, we are children of God, so that makes us part of the same family circle! But do we have a family resemblance? Are we alike?

Well, I think we are, because we are all like this…

(Show toilet roll)

We are all like a loo roll – and we’re like a loo roll in three ways:

  • We’re soft. And I don’t mean that in a wimpy way – Ephesians 3 has one of my favourite verses where we’re told to be kind to one another, tender (or soft) hearted, and forgiving, because God, in Christ, forgave us first. So we should be soft-hearted, sharing with the poor, looking out for people who are sad or lonely, helpful whenever we can, so that people who look at us think that God is wonderful because the people in His family are soft. But…
  • We’re strong! And I don’t mean this in a muscly way – we’re strong because we have a helper. Before Jesus went to Heaven, He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit, and Acts 2 tells about how the Holy Spirit came to help people like you and me live for Jesus – He is the One who helps us to pray, and to stick with Jesus when no-one else does, and to be brave in inviting someone to Church or when we talk to them about Jesus.
  • Thirdly, our lives are very long! The Bible, in John, says that we who follow Jesus have eternal life – that means we live a life that has no end, because even when we die here on Earth, we go to be with God in a new Heaven and a new Earth forever without end. This toilet roll ends, but life the Christian does not.

So, my little loo rolls, we are all alike because we are soft, we are strong and our lives are very very very very very very long… and it’s all because of Jesus.