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BIBLE PASSAGE: Genesis 37
BACKGROUND: Some children have siblings, others don’t. Some will get on with their brothers and sisters, others won’t. Whatever a child’s family situation they will feel conflict and changes of circumstance keenly. Be sensitive as you explore the story and stay aware of different home situations. Reassure the children that although the brothers’ relationship fell apart God used it all for the best (Genesis 50:20), and they were eventually reconciled. Make sure you follow your church’s policy if the children raise any safeguarding issues.
As the children arrive, welcome them by name and invite them to sit together in a circle. Encourage them to share stories from their week, and celebrate any birth- days or special events. Ask the children if they have any siblings, or any other family members who are close to them in age if they don’t have siblings. Talk about how we sometimes get on with these family members and sometimes don’t.
You will need: large sheets of paper; felt-tip pens or crayons; pictures of people in rich-coloured robes (for example the Queen, university chancellors or archbishops)
Give out your large sheets of paper and encourage the children to draw patterns on them with dark-coloured pens or crayons. Once everyone is finished, ask them to colour their patterns using bright colours. Do the same yourself so you can use your paper in the ‘Prayer’ activity later on.
As you work, talk about their favourite colours. Show the pictures of people dressed in rich-looking robes and ask the children what they think of them. Drape their finished patterned paper around their shoulders to wear as a cloak. Then admire everyone’s handiwork!
You will need: leaders to play Joseph, Reuben and a narrator; paper cloaks from ‘Intro activity’; a larger coloured cloak for Joseph (this could be an actual coat or something like a patterned tablecloth) Gather the children together, still wearing their paper cloaks. Explain that you’re going to meet some people from the Bible story. One is called Joseph and the other is his brother Reuben.
Joseph: Hi everyone, my name’s Joseph! He looks at the children’s cloaks. I love your cloaks! Do you like mine? He swishes around in it. It was made just for me. I have lots of brothers, but my dad loves me best because I’m the most special. I’m very important in my family, and my dad gave me this coat to prove it!
Narrator: How do you think Joseph’s brothers felt? Let the children share their ideas. Joseph often had unusual dreams, and he liked to talk about them.
Joseph: Listen to this dream I had. We were binding big bundles of wheat out in the field when suddenly my bundle rose and stood upright, while everyone else’s bundles
gathered around mine and bowed down to it.
Narrator: Let’s stand up and pretend to be bundles of wheat, and let’s all pretend to bow down to Joseph. What do you think the dream meant? Let the children share their ideas. The brothers thought it meant that Joseph would be put in charge of them, and that they would have to bow down to him. They were not happy about it!
Joseph: I had another dream, and this time the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.
Narrator: Let’s stand up and pretend to be shining stars bowing down to Joseph. This time even Joseph’s dad got fed up. He said: “Do you really think your mum and I will actually bow down to you?”
One day Joseph’s dad sent him out to check on his brothers, who were looking after the sheep quite far away. The brothers saw him coming in the distance. They decided he had made them so angry that they would kill him! But the oldest brother Reuben wasn’t sure.
Reuben: Brothers! We can’t kill Joseph! Throw him into this empty well but don’t hurt him.
Narrator: Reuben thought he would come back later when all the other brothers had gone and rescue Joseph. But while he was away the others sold Joseph to some passing traders so that he would become a slave. They tore his wonderful coat and put animal blood on it so they could pretend to their father that he was dead.
Continue exploring the story by discussing these questions:
- Which is your favourite part of the story?
- What didn’t you like?
- What does this story tell you about God?
- Are your siblings or family members ever unkind to you?
You will need: yogurt pots; sterile compost; sunflower or cress seeds; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Give each child a yogurt pot to fill with compost and plant a seed. Sunflower seeds are a good choice as you can check in with how tall they are getting over the weeks.
Cress is simple and grows more quickly than sunflowers.
Ask the children to tell you how the brothers would have felt in the story. Have they ever felt jealous? Talk about how the brothers’ little niggles of jealousy were
as small as a tiny seed to begin with but grew and grew until they were ready to kill. What can we do if we feel jealous? (Talk to adults, pray, remember that God made us all and loves us all the same.) Instead of growing seeds of jealousy we can plant seeds of kindness and patience in our hearts, watering them with prayer and love.
Encourage the children to take their seeds home and ask their parents and carers to help them grow.
You will need: your coloured cloak from ‘Intro activity’; scissors
Cut up the coat you (not the children) made in ‘Intro activity’ and give each child a piece to hold while they pray:
Heavenly Father, thank you that you made each one of us special, and that you love each us all equally. Help us not to be jealous of other people and to be good friends to those around us. Amen.
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