MEETING AIM: To feel some of the excitement of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem.
BIBLE PASSAGE: Mark 11:1-11
BACKGROUND: The noise and energy that accompanied Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem must have been quite something. There is much going on in this story beyond the noise and the singing. Jesus is announcing himself as the king and saviour promised by God, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. The people have been waiting a very long time for this, and have been oppressed by empire after empire.
Whether the people get the saviour they want is another matter, but at this moment, their excitement is palpable.
Help the children to catch some of the excitement about Jesus and to discover something of who he is.
As the children arrive, welcome them by name and share out any refreshments you have brought. Ask the group about their week; share in their triumphs and drawbacks, and share something from your own week if appropriate.
You will need: paper of different sizes, including lining paper; art materials; dowelling and garden canes; sticky tape
Show the children the art materials and challenge the group to make flags or banners that they could use to celebrate and welcome people. If the children are struggling for ideas, you could show them videos of football teams running onto the pitch, accompanied by flag-waving ball-girls and boys. Once everyone has finished, stick the flags and banners to dowelling or canes and practise waving them.
You will need: Mark 11:9-10 written on card or on a PowerPoint slide; flags and banners from ‘Intro activity’; a Bible
Gather the children together and show them Mark 11:9-10. Practise shouting the words that the crowds shouted as Jesus rode past them on a donkey.
See how loudly and enthusiastically the children can shout! (If you disturb the adults or the young people in their groups, all the better!)
Tell the children that all this noise and shouting forms part of your story today. Go on to read Mark 11:1-11 from a child-friendly translation of the Bible, inviting the children to act out the first part of the story (verses 1 to 7) and then use the flags and banners from ‘Intro activity’ as the children shout out the words from verses 9 and 10. Alternatively, you could tell this story:
Jesus and his friends were travelling to Jerusalem for the important Passover festival, when God’s people remembered how God rescued them from Egypt. They got to a place called the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of his friends into a nearby village. “As you enter the village,” he told them, “you’ll find a donkey tied up. Bring it here. And if anyone asks what you’re doing, tell them that the Lord needs it.” Two volunteers should walk to the other end of the room.
Off Jesus’ friends went and found exactly that. They brought the donkey back to Jesus. The volunteers return, miming leading a donkey. They threw their cloaks on the donkey’s back and Jesus climbed on. Your volunteers can mime doing this. Ask for another volunteer to be Jesus and pretend to
ride on a donkey. He rode all the way to Jerusalem! As he rode along, crowds came out to see him. They waved their cloaks and branches from palm trees and shouted loudly. All the children apart from ‘Jesus’ should wave their flags and banners and shout out the words they practised earlier from Mark 11:9-10.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- What is your favourite part of the story?
- Why do you think the people were excited to see Jesus?
- What would you shout if you saw Jesus today?
- What makes you excited about Jesus?
You will need: art and craft materials; building blocks; Bibles; Bible storybooks; playdough
Before the session, gather together any resource you can find that will help children respond to the Bible story.
What you provide is only limited by what you have access to. Set out everything you have collected and encourage the children to choose anything they might like to use to respond to what they have heard. They might want to create a picture or a model, play with the building blocks or read the story again in the Bible or a Bible storybook. They might just want to sit and reflect.
Facilitate whatever the children would like to do, making sure they can access the resources they want to and be available if the children want to chat or ask you questions. This activity is set at ten minutes, but you can spend as long as you would like to. This is time for children to listen to God and process what he is saying to them.
You will need: recording of crowd noises and the means to play it
Ask the children to sit or lie down on the floor. Play the crowd noises and ask the children to imagine they are there in the Bible story, watching Jesus arrive in Jerusalem. Ask them to imagine that he stops in front of them. What do they want to say to him? What questions would they ask? How might Jesus reply? Allow a moment of quiet as the children think and pray.
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