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Bible passage: 1 Corinthians 13
Background: This is a very well-known passage, but in our culture of X-Factor judging, social media ‘likes’ and fake news it’s important for us to remember God’s definition of real love. It’s very different from the definitions we see around us, and we are called to love as God loves. Sometimes this can be surprising and even uncomfortable. Give the children time to explore this passage and process it as you think about how God asks us to love others.
Welcome the children to your group by name and share out any refreshments you have brought. Chat together about the past week. Share in the children’s triumphs and disasters, and divulge something from your own life. Invite the children to describe someone they love. What is it about them that they love? Describe someone else they know who loves them. How do they know this person loves them?
You will need: slips of paper; red felt-tip pens
Split the children into groups (or work together if you have a small number of children). Brainstorm the question ‘What is love?’. Encourage the children to come up with one-word answers and then write this word on a slip of paper, drawing a love heart around it. Once they have written two or three answers, share them with the larger group. Keep the ideas the children have come up with for use in ‘Bible story’.
You will need: slips of paper from ‘Intro activity’; the phrases below written on paper; a Bible
Before the session, write these phrases on separate slips of paper: Love is kind; Love is patient; Love is never jealous; Love does not boast; Love is not proud; Love does not put others down; Love is not selfish; Love does not get angry easily; Love doesn’t keep a list of other people’s wrongs; Love does not enjoy evil; Love enjoys the truth; Love always protects; Love always trusts; Love always hopes; Love always keeps going to the end; Love never fails.
Divide the group into pairs. Give each pair a phrase (or more if you have fewer children in the group) from the verse that they must act out to the rest of the group. Give them some time to create their short scene. They can use speech and actions to create a scenario, but must not use the exact words in the phrase.
Once everyone is ready, read 1 Corinthians 13 aloud to the group. As each phrase comes up, the pair who created an action for that phrase should act out their scene. The phrases come thick and fast, so this might take a while. If you’re short on time, just give each pair one of the phrases to create a scene for.
Show the children the ideas they came up with during ‘Intro activity’. Do any of them match up with our own ideas about love? If any match, place them together. Are some very different? Place the different ones far away from each other.
Chat about the ones that are the same and the ones that are different. Explain to the children that the author of this letter (a man called Paul) was writing to a church in a place called Corinth. They weren’t behaving in a loving way towards each other and Paul felt he had to remind them exactly what love meant (and how their actions were empty if they acted without love).
Ask the children the following questions, encouraging them to take turns to contribute:
- Which is your favourite description of love from the Bible passage?
- Which do you find difficult to do?
- How is the love Paul talks about here different from the love we see around us? Why?
- Are there any phrases that made you think about a particular person? Who and why?
- Are there any phrases you’d like to be better at? How can we get better at being kind or not being jealous?
- What does this passage tell you about God and his love?
You will need: ping-pong balls; pens
Ask the children to think about the love phrases from the Bible passage, and particularly the areas they would like to improve in. Invite them to take some ping-pong balls and draw emojis on them for those phrases. You may need to help them think of ways they find it difficult to love, for example not holding a record of wrongs about a sibling or choosing to be kind to someone new in the class. They can take the balls home as reminders.
You will need: table tennis bats (one per child if you can, otherwise enough for them to take it in turns); emoji ping-pong balls from ‘Creative response’; hard surfaces such as a table or the floor
Put the children into pairs (these could be the same pairs as in ‘Bible story’). Give them table tennis bats and some of the emoji ping-pong balls. Encourage them to hit the balls back and forward to each other across a table or on the floor.
With each hit of the ball they can ask God to help them love others with his idea of love rather than our own. They can be specific about the emoji drawn on the ball they’re playing with or about the areas they identified earlier that they would like to love better in.
Play and pray for as long as you have time and the children are engaged. Finish off with a prayer thanking God for loving us. Ask him to help us love others in the ways we have prayed about.
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