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BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 1:1-11
BACKGROUND: Jesus’ ascension is hard to comprehend, and quite how it happened is a mystery. But children can grasp that Jesus had to leave. He wanted his disciples to be ready for him to go and to be able to share his good news. Allow the children space to ask questions, and acknowledge when you don’t know the answer. The ascension cannot be separated from the resurrection story, so don’t cut short your review of the Easter story.
Welcome the children and share out any refreshments you have. Ask the children how many times a day they say goodbye to someone. Ask for suggestions and count them. How many times do we say: “See you soon” after we’ve said “Goodbye”? Talk about times when we’ve said farewell to someone knowing that we wouldn’t see them for a long time.
You will need: drum or shaker instruments (optional)
Learn this song to the tune of ‘Auld lang syne’, waving goodbye appropriately. Use drum or shaker-type musical instruments if you can.
The time had come for Jesus to say Goodbye to all his friends. “Goodbye,” he said to all his friends, “Goodbye,” he said, “goodbye.”
“Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, my friends, Goodbye to all my friends.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, my friends, Goodbye to all my friends.”
You will need: a small suitcase containing items you would need if you were going to another country for a few months, including a passport, a mobile and a ticket, plus anything else you might need, such as money, clothes and sunglasses.
Talk about what the children can remember from the resurrection story. Remind them of Mary in the garden, Jesus’ walk with two of his disciples on the road from Jerusalem, the chat he had with Thomas the following week, the breakfast he cooked on the beach and the conversation he had with Peter. Remind them that Jesus couldn’t be with his disciples for ever. He was getting ready to leave them.
If someone in your family was going to another country for a few months they would pack a suitcase. What would they pack? Open your suitcase and empty its contents during the discussion. Let the children repack the suitcase.
But Jesus didn’t need any of those things, because…
He didn’t need a passport. Hold this up. You don’t need a passport to go where he was going. He was going to heaven
to be with his Father God. You don’t need passports to be with God in heaven.
Anyone who loves Jesus is welcome there. He didn’t need his mobile. Hold this up.
He had already told his friends what would happen once he was gone. There was noth- ing else to tell them. He was going away, but he was sending the Holy Spirit in his place. As a human being Jesus could only be in one place at one time, but the Holy Spirit, who is also God, can be everywhere at the same time. Jesus’ friends would have the Holy Spirit instead.
He didn’t need a ticket. Hold this up. He wasn’t going to travel on a bus, a train or a plane.
This is what happened. As he was talking with his friends, Jesus was taken up into the air and disappeared into a cloud. Jesus’ friends kept looking up into the sky open-mouthed, but he was gone. Encourage the children to look up with open mouths.
All of a sudden, standing beside them were two men dressed in white, who were probably angels. They said: “What are you looking like that for? Jesus has gone to be with his Father in heaven. He will come back one day.”
So Jesus’ friends went back to the city of Jerusalem and waited for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to be with them. They didn’t have to wait long!
Use these questions to talk about the story, encouraging everyone to join in:
- How do you think Jesus’ friends felt when Jesus talked about leaving them? They loved him. How would they cope without him?
- How might they feel as they looked up into the cloud and saw him disappear?
- Why do you think Jesus had to leave?
You might want to talk about how he was limited to being in one place at a time. You could also explore the idea that Jesus had completed the task he had come to do
on earth, so it was time for him to leave. He had instructed his disciples to share his good news with others, and if he had stayed they might not have got on with job! The children may have lots of questions about how it happened, but we have to accept that it’s ultimately a mystery.
You will need: a lump of playdough for each child (see playdoughrecipe.com for a simple recipe)
Talk through the whole story of Easter, making the following shapes as you do so:
- A circular stone – rolled away from the tomb entrance
- A fish – which Jesus cooked for breakfast
- A bread roll – which Jesus broke with the two friends he had met on the road
- A cloud shape – into which Jesus disappeared
- A foot – the last part of Jesus’ body the disciples saw
- One other shape the children might like to make that is connected to the story
Jesus said goodbye to his friends, but he had made sure they would be OK without him. He was going to send the Holy Spirit, who is like ‘God everywhere’, in his place.
Invite the children to say a one-sentence prayer of thanks to Jesus, such as: “Thank you, Jesus, that you helped your friends to be OK without you” or “Thank you, Jesus, that you made breakfast for your friends” or “Thank you, Jesus, that you had done what God wanted you to do” or “Thank you, Jesus, that you are now in heaven”.
Sing the goodbye song again. You could finish off by singing the first verse as you go home: “The time has come for me to say goodbye to all my friends…”
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