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Bible passage: 1 John 4:7-21
Background: In a world full of social media ‘likes’ and attempts to prove to others that we deserve to be loved, the truth is that God is love. He created love, he is the sustainer of love and he loved us before we could even try to prove it! Today’s session delves into this truth, applying it to the lives of the children and giving them time to think about how we can live in the light of God’s love.
Welcome the children to your group by name and chat together about the past week. Share in their triumphs and disasters and divulge something from your own life. Ask the children what their favourite sweets are. Make a tally to see which is the group’s overall favourite.
You will need: a list of items (see below)
Divide the children into two teams (or more depending on the size of your group) and send each one to a different corner of the room. Ask each team to nominate a ‘runner’. When you shout out the name of an object, the first team to bring it to you is the winner. Stand at an equal distance from each team. Sometimes they might need to carry the whole person to you!
Use this list and add your own ideas if you would like to: a hair clip; brown hair; a left shoe; a blue sock; button; blue eyes; something red; a T-shirt; shoelace; a 10-year-old; a necklace; a song (the whole team must come to you and sing it together).
You will need: heart-shaped sweets (such as Haribo); swiss rolls; cans of squirty cream; table knives; trays; cover-up equipment and clean-up; a Bible
Check for food allergies before this session and make sure you have appropriate food for the children in your group. Be aware of hygiene issues as you do this activity.
Divide the children into groups and give each some heart-shaped sweets, a swiss roll, a knife, a can of squirty cream, a plate and a tray. In their groups, challenge the children to cut and shape the swiss rolls into the word ‘God’ on the tray and cover the cake in a thick layer of the squirty cream.
Read 1 John 4:7-21 aloud to the group. Every time they hear the word ‘love’ they should stick a heart-shaped sweet onto their cake word so that eventually it looks as though it has been written ub hearts.
Count the number of heart-shaped sweets on the cake word. Does each group have the same number of sweets? The number of sweets may depend on the translation you have read out. You might want to read the passage again so the groups can check they have the right amount of sweets. Wonder together what this tells you about God. What does this passage tell us about Jesus? Provide space for the children to give their initial thoughts.
Cut the cake and eat it together as you ask the children the following questions, encouraging them to take turns to contribute:
- What was your favourite part of this Bible passage?
- How do you think the people John was writing to felt as they read this bit of his letter?
- Why do you think God wants us to know how much he loves us?
- Why is Jesus described as the ‘saviour of the world’?
- What does knowing that God is love mean to you?
- How does knowing that God is love change the way we live our lives? How does this story challenge us as disciples?
You will need: pens; paper; tablets and / or smartphones (if possible, use one device per small group, but if not, one for the whole group will be fine)
Before the session, download the AutoRap app onto each device. The app is free for basic use.
Split the children into groups and give each one a device, as well as pens and paper. (If you have a small group, work together.) Encourage the children to create a rap that expresses a response to the Bible passage. They might want to choose one of these statements or come up with something of their own:
God made us because he wants to be friends with us; There is nothing that can separate me from God’s love; When God looks at me, he smiles; God’s love goes on and on for ever; God sent Jesus to die for me because he loves me so much.
Once they have composed their rap they can speak it into the app. If they have time, they could do several. Give them five minutes to come up with the rap, then play them back to the rest of the group.
If you don’t have access to any devices such as smartphones or tablets, provide some basic percussion instruments so the children can create a rhythm for their rap. Alternatively, write poems rather than raps and read them out.
You will need: reflective music and the means to play it
Encourage the group to get comfortable, then play your reflective music. As the music is playing, ask the children to talk to God about what they have discovered today. It might be a confirmation that God loves them, having explored that idea before. It might be that this is the first time a child has heard that God is love and that he loves them. For those whose home lives are not full of love it might have brought up difficult feelings. Be aware of all these possible responses.
After a few minutes, finish with a short prayer thanking God for being love and for loving us. Ask him to help you love others this week. Let the group know they can talk to you (or another adult they trust) about anything they might have thought about during the session.
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