MEETING AIM: To discover that God can help us in the most difficult situations, and change things for the better.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 16:16-40
BACKGROUND: Paul and Silas were in prison for setting a girl free. However, they focused on Jesus, not their immediate predicament. A younger child’s world can sometimes be confusing and scary. How can we help our children focus on Jesus in these confusing times? How do we do it in our own lives?
Start your time together with some simple refreshments and chat about what your children have found exciting today (or yesterday, if you’re doing this in the morning). Can the children remember a time when they were scared or in trouble?
You will need: coloured paper; scissors; child-safe scissors; sticky tape
If your children don’t have great motor skills yet, then cut out some strips from coloured paper before you start. If they can cut out, then let them choose the coloured paper and show them how to cut strips with the child-safe scissors.
Once you have some strips, demonstrate how to loop the strips to make circles, then join those together with other strips to make chains. As you work, continue the conversation you started in ‘Starting out’.
You will need: Bible; The Big Bible Storybook (SPCK) or similar; paperchains from ‘Play’
Find your Bible and show your children the book of Acts. Explain that the book of Acts tells the story of what Jesus’ friends did after he died and came alive again at Easter, and went back to heaven. If you have already done the Pentecost session, ask your children what they can remember.
Explain to your children that Paul was a friend of Jesus. He went all over the place, telling people about Jesus. Sometimes he took friends with him. He travelled with Barnabas, John Mark, Luke, Timothy and others. This time, he was with a friend called Silas. He had gone to a place called Philippi to tell the people there how amazing Jesus is.
Show your children your Bible storybook. The Big Bible Storybook is ideal, but you could use another one that contains this story. If you have The Big Bible Storybook, read the story of Paul and Silas from page 235, making sure everyone can see the pictures.
Read the story again, but this time, ask your children to imagine that they are there with the friends of Jesus as the story takes place, and to act it out. What might they do when they feel the earthquake, when their chains fall off and when the jailer is scared? They can use the chains they made in ‘Play’ and then rip them off when the earthquake happens.
Take turns in being Paul and Silas, the jailer and the other prisoners. What songs might the prisoners have sung in the prison? Could you sing one now?
Chat about the story using these questions:
•What is your favourite part of the story?
•How did Paul and Silas feel when they were in the prison?
•How did Paul and Silas feel when the earthquake happened and their chains fell off?
•What do you think happened to the jailer and his family next?
•What do you want to say to Jesus after hearing this story?
You will need: art materials; large sheets of paper; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Get out whatever art materials you have in the house. Give everyone a large sheet of paper (A3 or larger – cut some old wallpaper if you have any). If you’re using messy art materials, make sure you cover up your children and wherever you’re doing this activity!
Encourage your children to create a picture in response to what they have heard and thought about in the story today. The end result of what your children produce isn’t important here, rather the process they go through. Be ready to chat with your children if they would like to ask you questions or explain what they are doing, but don’t impose your own interpretations on what they have created.
You will need: chains from ‘Play’; marker pens
Chat about how Paul and Silas might have felt in the prison. Where they scared? Were they sad? Were they upset that they had been punished for no real reason? Recall times when you might feel the same as Paul and Silas. Help your children to think of one thing they would like to tell Jesus about and write that for them on a link of the chain.
Once everyone has thought about something to write, ask Jesus to help you in all those situations. Rip the chain up together, and shout thank you to Jesus for solving those problems. If possible, keep the ripped chain links around the house, so you can discover over the coming days how Jesus has answered your prayers.
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