MEETING AIM: To explore what it means to take everything to God from the example of Hezekiah.
BIBLE PASSAGE: 2 Kings 19:1, 14-19
BACKGROUND: Hezekiah was one of the good guys. Through generations of kings and leaders over the people of Israel, we see the kings who served God first, and those who sought their own desires. King Hezekiah strengthened the walls of the city, and strengthened the people’s worship of God, removing all those things which had become a distraction for the people and seeking God first.
As you begin the session, gather the children together in a circle and ask them what makes a good leader. What makes a good leader in helping us to follow Jesus? At church, perhaps? What helps us to connect to God, first and foremost?
You will need: newspapers (identical copies, one for each team, local newspapers work well); list of prepared questions
Before the session, create a list of questions relevant to the newspaper you’re using, such as who is staring at the Grove theatre according to page 18? On which page can you find the result of the Wanderers football match? How many tokens do you need to save for a free ice cream?
Split the group into equal-sized teams and put a leader with each group. Give each group a copy of the newspaper and explain that you are going to have a scavenger hunt through the newspapers to find a story and bring it to you at the centre of the room first. You could award a small prize to the team who win the most rounds.
You will need: roll of lining paper; marker pens
Gather around the roll of paper and invite them to draw or write down what comes to mind as you tell the story today. Encourage the children to make themselves comfortable and to listen carefully to the story. Read 2 Kings 19:1,14-19 or use the following retelling:
God’s people were under threat; enemy armies were trying to take the city.
One day, the king of Assyria sent a threatening letter to the people. When the king, Hezekiah, heard the news, he tore off his clothes and wore sackcloth instead, which was a symbol of humility, and went to God’s temple.
He took the letter he had received into the temple and spread it out before God, then he prayed: “God you alone are God of the whole world. You created the heavens and the earth, and you sit on the throne of heaven. Hear these words, I pray. Hear these words and answer our prayer.
“The Assyrians have attacked many nations, and they have won many battles. You alone are God. Rescue us, and all people will know that you alone, are God.”
Go to verses 35-37 to tell the end of the episode. Then ask the children if anyone would like to share what they have doodled or written down. What are the things that jumped out to the children?
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- How do you feel about this story?
- What do we learn about Hezekiah?
- What does the story tell us about God?
- How do you think the story ends?
- How could or should we be like Hezekiah?
You will need: banners, streamers or a display board; selection of craft and collage materials; scissors; glue
Explain that in this story we get a glimpse of how Hezekiah viewed God and revered him. Invite the children to work together to create a banner or streamers they can use in worship, or a fixed display board collage which celebrates who God is and what he has done.
Encourage the children to use this creation as an act of worship in itself (whether or not they are able to articulate that). They could use Hezekiah’s words, the things they see of God in his creation or what they have seen in their own lives. They could use some of the things they noted down on the lining paper in ‘Bible story’ as they listened to the story.
Display the completed artwork, as a reminder to the children of just how amazing God is. Help them to see that holding onto this truth helps us to understand how God can deal with the things we may find overwhelming, as he did for Hezekiah.
You will need: newspapers, both local and national; background music and the means to play it (optional)
Remind the children that Hezekiah spread out the story that was worrying him before God in the temple. Explain that you’re going to use this same idea in your prayers today. Invite the children to take some time to look through the newspapers and pull out the stories they want to bring to God in prayer, spreading these out on the floor in the centre of your space. If you find it helpful, you could play some background music to encourage an atmosphere of prayer and reflection.
When they have had enough time to look at the stories, gather the children together and pray over the stories presented. Depending upon your group, you may wish to lead this time, or invite them to pray aloud.
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