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Bible passage: Mark 6:30-44
Background: This session continues the theme of ‘Who is Jesus?’. The feeding of the 5,000 is often told to children, usually with the focus on the little boy bringing all he has. The boy isn’t in the story in Mark’s version, so this session focuses on the fact that Jesus provides what we need, cares deeply about us and can do incredible things.
Invite the children to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from the week. Celebrate any birthdays or special events. It can 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 food?” Thank God that he’s with you and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: playdough
Share the playdough out and enjoy making food items out of the dough. Make sure you remind the children not to eat it! While you’re making the food, ask the children about what would be in their favourite packed lunch. Have they ever been on a picnic? Talk to them about the kinds of things they might do on a picnic. What types of food do they like to eat?
You will need: a picnic blanket; a lunch box; fish and bread rolls (paper or real)
Lay out the picnic rug and invite the children to sit down with you. Then tell this story:
Jesus and his disciples were busy. They had been talking to lots of people and telling them about God. They decided to go somewhere quiet to eat and have a rest. But lots of people saw them and followed because they really wanted to hear Jesus talk. Jesus began teaching them all kinds of things.
There was a big crowd of people and they didn’t want to go home. They loved sitting listening to Jesus, and it got very late.
Let’s imagine we were all in that crowd of people. Can you imagine if you’d been listening to Jesus until it got really late and hadn’t anything to eat? I think my tummy would be rumbling. Did anyone bring a packed lunch for us to eat while we listen to Jesus? Oh, no one has a packed lunch?
The disciples were worried that no one had any food. Jesus told them to give the people some food, but they didn’t have any. They went out into the crowd to see what they could find. Get out the lunchbox with the fish and bread rolls.
I wonder what’s inside this lunchbox. Pass the lunchbox around and encourage the children to look inside.
All the disciples could find was five loaves and two fish. Surely this wasn’t going to be enough food for everyone! Well, Jesus told the disciples to get everyone to sit down and he thanked God for the food. Share the bread around and invite the children to eat some if you are using real bread (making sure you’re aware of any allergies).
When Jesus asked the disciples to start handing out the food an amazing thing happened. There was enough food for everyone. In fact, Jesus friends’ went around collecting the leftovers afterwards and there were twelve baskets full of food left!
Recap the story as many times as the children would like to. You might need to mime eating the food if you tell the story so many times that you run out! Comment that the people were really hungry and their stomachs were rumbling. Jesus cares about everything. He cared about telling them who God was, but he also cared that they were all hungry. Jesus performed a miracle. From just a small lunch there was enough food for everybody!
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute (use your object or cuddly toy if you passed one around earlier):
- How do you think you would have felt if you had seen this miracle happen?
- Why do you think Jesus gave food to all those people?
- What things do we need?
- What should we do when we see someone else in need or in trouble?
You will need: people shapes cut out of card (you can buy these ready-made in craft shops or online); felt-tip pens or crayons; collage materials; child-safe scissors; glue sticks
Give each child a card person. Tell them that Jesus cares about each of us; he cares about what we need. Encourage the children to decorate their person as a self-portrait. Talk about how Jesus cares about our families, our friends, the food we eat and how we feel. He cares about everything. We can chat to Jesus about anything. He cares about it all.
If you have an appropriate story about how God has cared for you, share it with the children now.
You will need: paper (or people shapes cut out of card); felt-tip pens or crayons
Remind the children that Jesus cares about every single person. Sometimes we see people who are hungry or need looking after, or even just someone who we can smile at and talk to. Jesus asked his friends to help feed the hungry people. He asks us to follow him and look after people in need just as he did.
Encourage the children to chat to God and to ask him to help them think of someone they could help this week. It might be that God just pops someone’s name into their head, or maybe they can picture someone. Give out the paper and invite the children to draw a picture of that person to help them remember who they are praying for.
Finally, say this prayer: “Jesus, thank you that you ask us to help others, just as you asked the disciples. Help us to spot people who need you this week and to make them feel cared for.”
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