Another parable – story with hidden meaning – today helps us to learn more about God’s kingdom: what it’s like, how much it’s worth and who it’s for. We can be thankful that we are invited to share in these secrets of God’s kingdom. Let us pray that we would value God’s kingdom in the way that this Bible passage asks us to.
See Bible notes for more information on the passages for today.
You could listen to this track to begin your time of worship together: Greatness of our God, Newsboys on United
Open the Bible at Matthew 13.31-33,44-52: Jesus gives his followers five examples of what the kingdom of God is like.
The hidden parables
Print off the reading and cut it into the five sections, representing each of the five symbols of the kingdom. Put each part in an envelope and number them one to five in order, then hide them around your space. Encourage everyone to take part in a ‘treasure hunt’ to find them, open them and read the story in order.
Here are some parables that Jesus told the crowd:
The parable of the mustard seed
‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, sown in a field. It is the smallest of seeds but grows up into a huge bush, and the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’
The parable of the leavened bread
‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixes with three lots of flour, until it is all leavened and ready to rise.’
The parable of the hidden treasure
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. Someone finds it, hides it again, and then is so very, very happy, he goes and sells everything he has to buy the field.’
The parable of the fine pearl
‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who is looking for fine pearls. He finds one very special and valuable pearl, and goes and sells everything he has to buy it.’
The parable of the good and bad fish
‘The kingdom of heaven is like a net. The net is full of fish, of all shapes and sizes. It is pulled ashore. The good fish are put in baskets while the bad fish are thrown away. And it will be like this at the end of time when the angels will separate the good people from the bad.’
Talk together with children
- When you hear the word ‘kingdom’, what pictures come into your head?
- Which of the five descriptions of God’s kingdom do you like the best and why?
- What do you think won’t be in the kingdom of God?
Talk together with young people
- Why do you think that Jesus uses so many images to describe the kingdom?
- How would you describe God’s kingdom?
- Is there a story in the news or from your community which is like the kingdom of God described in today’s passage? E.g. A school welcoming refugee families?
Race to build the biggest tower
You will need: building blocks.
- Divide the group into two teams and share out the building blocks evenly between them.
- Explain to the group that the first example of the kingdom was a mustard seed, a tiny seed. In this race, the teams are going to build a tower to demonstrate that, like the mustard seed growing into a large tree, the tower has to start with the first brick.
- In a relay race, encourage the teams to compete in building the tallest tower.
Create Kingdom die
Make a reminder of all the images of the kingdom
You will need: cube templates printed onto card, scissors, pens/pencils, glue.
- Give each person a template and ask them to cut it out – you can pre-prepare for younger children.
- Explain that like their cube, a die has six sides – then show the children these on their cubes.
- Ask the children to decorate each of the sides with one of the five images of the kingdom: a mustard seed, yeast in bread, treasure in a field, a pearl and a fishing net. In the sixth space, they can draw a question mark.
- Then invite the children to construct their die by adding glue to the tabs and sticking together.
- When all the dice are complete, ask everyone to roll their own and see if they can remember what the meaning is behind each image. If it lands on the question mark, ask the child to say what they think the kingdom of God is like.
Think/reflectSpend some quiet time reflecting on the passage, as well as what you have been doing in the activities you chose.
The sacrifice needed
Look at stories of ‘heroes’ of faith online. Research one ‘hero’ and what they had to sacrifice. Remind them that in the passage, people had to sell everything they had to receive the kingdom richness. Ask: what might you need to give up in order to discover more about God’s kingdom?
Give everyone a pot of bubbles and encourage them to blow big bubbles. Praise God that the kingdom of heaven grows and grows.
God of the kingdom,
may we plant the seeds,
may we grow like the yeast,
may we seek your treasure,
may we prize your pearl,
may we come into the net
of your kingdom,
this week and every week.