Open the Bible at John 1.6-8,19-28
The priests and Levites come to try and find out who John the Baptist is, and what he is doing.
Create the story scene using some props, e.g. make a river from tin foil or blue fabric, and use play figures to create a crowd along the riverbank. Place one figure in the river (John the Baptist), and several characters on the opposite side of the river (the priests and Levites) to the crowd. As you read, invite the children to act out the story with the figures – for example, the priests and Levites could walk up the river as John is baptizing people. Once you have completed your storytelling, invite the children to retell the passage, just using the props.
- Why does John want the priests and Levites to focus on Jesus rather than on him?
- How can we search for Jesus in our lives?
- What do we do that helps other people to find out about Jesus?
Choose from these ideas to help the children make connections between the Bible reading and their lives
Think about the idea of searching for something
You will need: bottled lemon juice, small bowls, white sugar paper (one piece per child), cotton buds, a hairdryer.
- Give each child some lemon juice in a bowl, and a piece of sugar paper. Invite everyone to dip a cotton bud into their lemon juice and write or draw a message on their paper. As they write or draw, the juice will begin to fade as it seeps into the paper.
- When everyone has finished, use the hairdryer on a low setting to dry the lemon juice and see the message come back to life. (NB You will need to hold the paper up to the light in order to see the message.)
Who’s in charge here?
Play a game about looking carefully
- Invite the children to stand in a circle and send one person out of the room. While they are gone, nominate someone in the room to lead some simple actions.
- Explain that everyone present needs to copy whatever the leader does, but without making it obvious who is leading.
- The aim is for the leader to subtly change the actions. The absent person returns and comes to stand in the middle of the circle and tries to work out who is leading.
- Give three guesses for the child to work out who the leader is, then replay the game with a new leader and guesser.
- Talk about the importance of noticing what’s going on, and how this relates to looking for signs of God in our lives.
Focus on key words about the Messiah
You will need: paper, colouring pens, music and equipment to play it.
- Give each child a piece of paper and pens.
- Ask everyone in the group to write the word Messiah on their page – they can use bubble letters and decorate if they wish.
- Play ‘For unto us a child is born’ and ask the children to write down words from the song as they hear (or see them on screen). They may be able to make an acrostic poem with them. Explain that these words were promises made about the Messiah.
- Invite the children to finish by decorating the whole piece of paper.
Jesus with me
Create artwork to show that Jesus is always with us
You will need: A4 paper, colouring pens, a large piece of paper, glue, tracing paper.
- Invite each member of the group to draw as many images as they can to represent what they’ve done in the week, e.g. pictures of their school, home, church, clubs, sports groups.
- When they have each finished their personal images, ask the whole group to glue all their pictures onto a large piece of paper to create one big composite artwork.
- Use tracing paper to completely cover the artwork, then encourage the children to write the words, ‘Jesus with me’ in large letters on the tracing paper, as a reminder that Jesus is with us in all circumstances and situations.
Thank God for always being among us
You will need: A4 paper and a marker pen.
- On separate sheets of paper, write in large print the different places members of the group have been during the week (use the ideas from Jesus with me).
- Place the sheets on the floor to create islands.
- Invite the children to walk slowly around the islands, as you say this short prayer:
Thank you, Lord, that you are with us at (insert some of the places)
and all the other places we go to in the week.