MEETING AIM: To explore what it means to demonstrate hospitality from the example of Lydia.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Acts 16
BACKGROUND: Lydia could be described as little more than a bit player in the missionary travels of Paul, yet she is one of the few characters Paul meets who is referred to by name and we see a glimpse of her story. In this session, we explore what she teaches us about hospitality and how we can follow her example. The session focuses on Lydia and ignores what happens when Paul and Silas are in prison. You could look at this episode on another occasion.
As you begin the session, gather the children together in a circle and ask them what they enjoy doing with their friends? What do you like to do when a friend comes around to play? Or when a family member comes to visit? How do you make them feel welcome?
You will need: large piece of paper or board; pens; paints
Explain that you are going to work together to create a welcome sign, poster or banner. This could be some- thing as simple as filling in the letters ‘WELCOME’ written out on poster paper or you could create a more permanent sign or banner for your group or even your church building. As you work together, talk about what it means to be welcomed.
You will need: Lego mini figures; Lego bricks; Lego base board
Gather the children together and explain that as you tell the story, they can play it out with the Lego figures and bricks. If you wish, you could work with the children to create a simple stop-motion animation of the story, using the Lego, or create scenes which you can photo- graph and storyboard. Alternatively, invite the children to play out the story. You could read the text from Acts 16, using a translation such as the NIRV or CEV, or use the following retelling, after briefly recapping Paul’s story so far:
One night Paul had a dream with a message from God, calling him to travel to Macedonia to share the news of Jesus there. When they got there, they went to the river and met a group of women. One of the women was Lydia, who already worshiped God. She was
a merchant in the city – a seller of purple cloth. As they talked to Lydia, she discovered more about Jesus and was baptised there, together with her family.
She invited Paul and Silas to stay in her home, inviting them to be her guests while they were in the area. She was very keen for them to stay and wouldn’t take no for an answer!
While Paul and Silas were in the area, sharing the good news about Jesus, they got into trouble with the authorities when they came to the rescue of a slave girl who was being misused by her masters. They even ended up in prison! God worked another miracle, but that’s another story for another day!
After they were released from prison, Paul and Silas made their way back to Lydia’s home, where they stayed until they left the town.
When you have finished the story, compare the different models the children have made. Use these as a starter for discussion about the events of the story and what God is doing; use some of the ‘Chatting together’ questions in your discussion.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- What do you like about this story?
- What questions does it raise for you?
- What would you like to ask Lydia?
- What does this story tell us about being a follower of God?
- How does this story challenge us?
You will need: materials dependent upon your choice of activity (see below) Plan and create an event which they can invite other people to. This could be an afternoon tea for members of your church congregation or a movie night for their friends. Use the time in the session to plan when this will take place and what you will need to do and create some invitations which the children can take away with them to give out after the session.
Alternatively, create something which the children can give out to show hospitality out of the session. Bake, ice and decorate some cakes to give out after the group has finished, or create miniature hampers to give to older members of your congregation – boxes or baskets filled with teabags, coffee and biscuits. Find a way to give these out after your session is over.
Stand in a circle facing outwards and invite the children to hold hands or link arms, if they are comfortable to do so. Pray together for the children, that they would be a Lydia in the world, with their eyes opened to those around them and how they can show the same hospitality she showed to Paul and Silas. If your children are happy to do so, invite them to pray aloud for one another. Alternatively, you could lead this prayer time.
Encourage them to live this out in the week ahead and to bring back stories of how God answers this prayer in the weeks that follow.
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