BIBLE PASSAGE: 1 Kings 19
BACKGROUND: Elijah, one of the great fathers of the faith, is brought low in this passage. We discover his vulnerability, his sense of failure, his desire for physical rest and recovery, and his need to start again. This session explores how even when we feel that we have failed God can set us back on our feet, ready to walk a different path with him.
As you begin the session, gather the children together in a circle. Invite them to share refreshments together and talk about their recent news or experiences. Ask the group to think about how we measure success or failure. What recent successes have they enjoyed (for example scoring a goal for the team or getting a place in the school choir)? What about failures? Do we like to share these, or do we prefer to keep them to ourselves?
You will need: the song ‘Get back up again’ from Trolls and the means to play it (it is available on YouTube and other streaming services)
Explain to the group where this song is played in the film. Despite all the danger the trolls are facing, Princess Poppy, the eternal optimist, goes off on her solo journey in a quest to save the trolls. Play the song and challenge the children to think about whether Poppy’s attitude is realistic or helpful. Explain that we are going to be looking at the story of one character in the Bible whose response was not what we might expect.
You will need: materials to create a cave, such as a table, blankets, rugs and cushions; a large rug, blanket or sheet; a large pot plant
Before the session, build the cave in one corner of your space. Lay out the rug or blanket to make the ‘desert’ in the middle and put the plant on the edge of the desert furthest from the cave. If you have lots of time, you could get the children to help you do this at the start of your Bible time. Gather the children in the desert and tell this story:
Elijah, God’s messenger, was on the run. He had delivered a message from God to the people and the people hadn’t liked it. The queen had threatened his life and he had run away. He found himself alone in the desert, exhausted, scared and feeling let down by God. He found a large bush, lay under it and begged God to let him die! Then he fell asleep. Invite the children to sit beside the plant.
Suddenly, an angel woke Elijah up and gave him some water to drink and some bread to eat. The angel cared for Elijah until he was ready to move on, out of the desert. Elijah soon felt better, so much so that he walked across the desert for 40 days. He finally reached Mount Horeb and rested in a cave. Walk the group around the desert and then sit down by the cave.
God called out to Elijah: “What are you doing here?”
Elijah was still feeling hurt and frus- trated. He told God how he felt let down, and how wrong it was that God would let these people turn against him even after all he had done to serve God. Why didn’t he punish them and protect Elijah? Elijah wanted to stop being God’s messenger.
But God didn’t want Elijah to stop working for him. Besides, he had looked after Elijah. He had sent the angel to care for him, given him safe places to rest in the desert, and given him the rest he needed.
Here at the mountain, God gave Elijah the chance to share his frustrations. Then God appeared to Elijah, not as someone he could see, but as a gentle whisper that
Elijah could feel. He was reminded that God was right there with him.
God said he would give Elijah new work to do, and a helper to go with him. Elijah was struggling, but he was not beaten. God was with him.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- What is your favourite part of this story?
- What challenges you about this story?
- How would you have felt if you were Elijah?
- What would you like to say to Elijah?
- If you were Elijah, what would you say to God?
You will need: Lego and Lego baseboards; marbles; sticky labels, pens
The children could work together in pairs or small groups to complete this activity. Distribute the Lego baseboards and Lego, then invite them to create marble mazes. Give them a marble to test out their mazes before exchanging with one another to test them out.
As you create, improve, develop and test your marble mazes, talk about how we sometimes feel stopped in our tracks, as the marble is in the maze, and as Elijah was in the story. Does life ever feel like a dead end? What things might we struggle
with along the way? Give the children sticky labels and pens, and ask them to label some of the ‘dead ends’, either with the things Elijah came up against or with some of their own feelings of reaching the end of a track.
Remind the group that God didn’t allow Elijah to stay stuck in his ‘dead end’. Talk about how God set Elijah back on track again. Ask the group what this might mean for us.
As you pray, invite the children to create actions for the words ‘struggle’, ‘dead end’, ‘rest’ and ‘new path’. Then pray this prayer:
“Father God, sometimes life feels like a struggle. We may feel like we’ve reached a dead end, worn out by the challenges that bring us down. Help us to rest in you. Set us on a new path, following the life you want us to live. Amen.”
Make yourself available to talk about any particular challenges the children may be facing, to pray about these and to support them in getting any further help they need.
Supporting documentsClick link to download and view these files
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