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Many of the circumstances Jesus describes in this passage will be outside the experience of the children in our groups, so this session will mainly focus on verse 31. We will explore different ways of loving each other and being kind. It may be that you have children who have already had difficult lives, with a disruptive home life. Be sensitive to children who may be unwilling to love those who are unkind to them.
Welcome all the children and share out any refreshments you have. Chat about what the children have done this week. What good times do they want to share?
Discuss a time when someone has done something kind for them. Perhaps someone bought them a gift or took them on a day out. Maybe someone looked after them when they were sick. How did it make them feel to be loved like that?
You will need: any play equipment the children enjoy
Gather any play equipment that promotes cooperative play and let the children play together. Play with the children and commend any examples of love and kindness you see as the children play. This could be sharing toys, showing love and compassion, or putting others first. As you play, continue your chat from ‘Circle time’ about what it feels like when people do kind things for you. As the children show kindness to each other through their games, ask them how it feels to love each other.
You will need: snacks; chair or beanbag
Sit the children on the floor and sit on the chair or beanbag in front of the group. Explain that Jesus loved to tell his friends and followers all about how to live God’s way. He would gather people together, sit down and start to teach everyone, like you are doing now.
Sit on the floor with the children and invite individuals to sit on the chair or beanbag and pretend to be Jesus. Can they think of anything Jesus might say to his friends? Encourage them to ‘teach’ everyone else.
After everyone who wants to has had a go, sit on the chair yourself and share out the snacks you have brought (be aware of allergy and food hygiene issues). As you’re enjoying your food, tell this story.
People had come from far and wide to listen to Jesus. He was in a big field and people were crowding all around him. He was making people better! After a while, Jesus started teaching his disciples and all the other people listening.
“God will be kind to you if you don’t have enough money, but trust him!”
“God will be kind to you if you don’t have enough to eat!”
“God will be kind to you if you’re unhappy!”
He also told his friends about how they should love each other. He told them that they had to love people, even if they didn’t like them. They had to love people who weren’t kind to them. They had to love people who didn’t love them back.
This was tough! It’s not easy to love people if they’re not nice to you. But Jesus said: “Treat others just as you want to be treated.”
Jesus’ friends thought about this. It would be difficult, but they would try to be like Jesus. They knew he would help them.
Chat about the story, asking these questions. Encourage everyone to join in if they want to:
- What is your favourite part of this story?
- When has someone treated you well?
- When have you treated someone else well?
- What do you want to say to Jesus?
You will need: gingerbread dough; cookie cutters; flour; rolling pins; baking sheets; access to an oven; small food bags; gift tags; pens; clean-up and cover-up facilities
Explain that you’re going to make some gingerbread people to give out as a way of being kind. Either use pre-made dough (which you can buy or make yourself before the session) or, if you have lots of time, make the dough with the children (several easy recipes are available online).
Have fun rolling out the dough and cutting out the gingerbread people. As you work, chat together about who you might give the biscuits to and why. Encourage the children to think more widely about who might be on the receiving end of the gift. Perhaps it could be someone at church or their next-door neighbour. Continue the chat from the start of the session about being kind and how it feels when someone is kind to them. What do the children think about Jesus’ statement: “Treat others just as you want to be treated”?
As the biscuits are baking and cooling, make gift tags. Put a few biscuits into food bags and attach the gift tags. Encourage the children to take the biscuits and give them to their intended recipients.
You will need: spare biscuits from ‘Creative response’; tubes of writing icing
Give each child a gingerbread person and ask them to think about a person who isn’t very nice to them. Ask them to think about how they can be kind to that person. How might they treat that person just as they want to be treated?
Give out the writing icing and ask the children to write the name of that person or draw something to represent that person on the biscuit. Help any one who might find this difficult.
Finally, ask the children to eat their biscuit and say a prayer, asking Jesus for help in following his teaching and loving this person.
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