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Bible passage: Mark 4:35-41
Background: This session continues the theme of ‘Who is Jesus?’. Though children may have heard this story before, the idea of a storm can feel quite far removed from our lives. This session gives children opportunity to identify the things that feel storm-like for them and ask Jesus to bring peace and calm.
As the storm was happening and Jesus was sleeping, the disciples’ focus was on the storm and how big and scary it was. Jesus was so full of peace that he had fallen asleep amid the storm. When Jesus woke up he knew that God had the power to calm the storm so he told it to stop. Jesus knew who he was and understood the power he had, so he knew what he could do.
Invite the children to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from the week. Celebrate any birthdays or special events. It may be helpful to have an object or cuddly toy to pass around for the child who is talking to hold when they speak. Ask the children: “What is your favourite kind of weather?” Thank God that he’s with you and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: a container and some water; little boats (you could use yoghurt pots or small containers)
Let the children have a go at floating the boats on the water. Talk about how Jesus often went out on a boat as lots of his friends were fishermen. In today’s story he went out onto the water in a boat and there was stormy weather. Have the children step back and create stormy weather and waves in the water using your hands. Ask the children how they think it must have felt to be in a boat in a storm.
You will need: a Bible; an inflatable boat (or rug or upturned table); a cushion
Blow up your inflatable boat and sit it in the middle of the room. (Alternatively, spread out your rug or turn a table upside down.) Gather the children around it and tell this story: Jesus and his disciples had spent the day talking to lots of people. When the evening came, they decided to go somewhere quieter in a boat.
Jesus and his disciples got into a boat because they wanted to cross the sea. Jump into the boat and encourage the children to come and sit with you. If you’re using an upturned table, make sure the children don’t bang into the table legs.
Jesus was really tired, so he got himself a cushion and lay down for a nap. Get your cushion, yawn and lie down sleepily (or have another leader do this while you narrate). A very big storm came and the waves began to rock back and forth. Encourage the children to make wave noises and rock back and forth.
Splash! The waves were coming up over the boat! Encourage the children to sway more.
Jesus’ friends were scared. They woke him up and said: “Don’t you care that there’s a huge storm?” Have Jesus wake up.
Jesus got up and said to the wind and the waves: “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. If the children are still making wave noises and rocking back and forth, encourage them to stop now!
Jesus said to his friends: “Why are you so scared? Do you still not trust me?” They were really afraid, but also amazed at how powerful Jesus was. They asked each other: “Who is he? Even the wind and the waves do what he says!”
If the children would like to, you could retell the story with the children taking it in turn to be Jesus falling asleep, then getting up and stopping the storm.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute (use your object or cuddly toy if you passed one around earlier):
- What is your favourite part of the story?
- How did Jesus’ friends feel when the storm started?
- How do you think they felt when they saw him make the wind and waves stop?
- What makes your heart feel like it’s in a storm sometimes?
You will need: stones; paint (if you wanted a non-messy option you could do this activity with paper plates and felt-tip pens or crayons)
Give each child a stone. Invite them to paint the storm on one side and the calm water on the other.
Have your own example ready. Hold up the stormy side and say that the disciples felt afraid of the storm. Turn over the stone to the calm side. But Jesus stood up and told the waves and the wind to stop. Remind the children that the storm listened to Jesus and did what he said. The water and the wind were calm.
Invite the children to think about something that makes them feel afraid, or like their heart is in a storm, as they paint the stormy side of their stones. Remind them as they paint the other side that Jesus is more powerful than the storm and that he makes it calm. He brings us peace.
You will need: a cup for each child; water; paper straws
Ask the children if they think Jesus is powerful. He is more powerful than any scary thing! Talk about how, when it feels like our hearts are in a storm, we can ask Jesus to make them calm.
Give each child a cup of water and a straw. Ask them to blow bubbles in their cup until you tell them to stop. Then watch the bubbles disappear. Jesus told the waves to stop and they stopped. Can they see how the water in their cups has become still?
Invite the children to do it again and to think, or say out loud, something that makes them feel afraid. Stop them blowing bubbles. Say that Jesus brings calm. Jesus is more powerful than those scary things. (If your children are too young to blow bubbles, you could use a bigger container and blow the bubbles yourself for them to watch.)
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