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Bible passage: Luke 19:28-44
Background: It is important to include as much of the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection as possible, which is what we will be doing over the next four sessions, using Luke’s Gospel. Enjoy celebrating Jesus’ arrival together, but leave some space to wonder about who Jesus is with the children.
Welcome the children by name and share any refreshments you have. Together, think about different ways to make a loud noise, for example using musical instruments or parts of the body (voice, feet, hands and chest thumping). Do these noises sound happy, excited, shy or fierce? Focus especially on happy and excitable sounds.
You will need: A4 white paper leaves; green and brown felt-tip pens or coloured pencils; green crêpe paper; glue
Cut out large A4 leaves from the white paper. The children can colour them and stick on green crêpe paper. These will be needed for the Bible storytelling, response and prayer. As you work, chat together about any recent celebrations you have attended.
You will need: the children’s coats; shawls or scarves; the leaves from ‘Intro activity’
Sit in a circle, ideally around a parachute or circular mat. Children should put on a shawl or scarf if they are not wearing a coat and put their leaf in front of them. Read the story and act it out as follows:
Jesus and his closest followers were travelling down to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. At this festival, Jews celebrated the time when God had rescued them from Egypt. It was a long way. The road was rough. They got tired. Their feet were sore. Everyone walks around the circle, stopping every now and again to rub their feet, then sits back in their place.
As they were getting close to a village near to the city of Jerusalem, Jesus said to two of his friends: “Go into that village. You’ll find a young donkey. Untie him and bring him back to me!”
“What if someone asks us what we’re doing?” they asked.
“Just say: ‘The Lord needs it,’” Jesus replied. Everyone walks around the circle looking for an imaginary donkey. Once each child ‘finds’ their donkey they untie it. Everyone freezes
“Hey!” said a voice. “What do you think you’re doing with my donkey?” The children can say that in different ways: loudly, crossly or quietly.
What were the friends told to say? Wait for the children to say: “The Lord needs it.”
“Oh!” the voice said, not loudly or crossly this time. “Then take the donkey. It’s OK.” The children go back to their places.
Then Jesus did a surprising thing. He got on the back of the young donkey and headed off toward Jerusalem. Crowds of people in Jerusalem saw him coming and got very excited. You see, long ago, King Solomon – one of the greatest kings ever – had ridden a donkey into Jerusalem when he was crowned king. Jesus must have been someone special if he was acting like King Solomon. Would Jesus rescue them from the Romans?
Then the crowds did something surprising. As Jesus came into the city, they took off their coats and threw them on the ground in front of the donkey, like a special carpet! The children stand up and throw their coats and scarves into the middle of the circle. The crowds shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Hooray for Jesus! Make way! Make way!” Talk about the different sounds you made earlier, then shout out happily and excitedly: “Make way!” The children can walk around the circle as they do this, all the way back to their original place.
Jesus got closer and closer to the city gates. Lots of other people rushed toward him to see what was going on. Then they did something else that was surprising. They snapped off branches and leaves from nearby trees and began to wave them, shouting, “Hooray for Jesus! Make way! Make way!” The children stand up to wave their leaves and everyone shouts out “Make way!” three times, getting louder each time. They were so excited and happy that Jesus had come!
Use these questions to talk about the story, encouraging everyone to join in:
- How do important people usually travel around?
- Show the children a picture of a donkey. What do donkeys usually do?
- Would you expect the Queen or someone important to ride a donkey? How might you react if you saw someone important on a donkey?
- Would you have felt pleased or surprised if you had been there?
Tell the story again, but this time ask the children to think about and make appropriate noises to accompany the storytelling, for example shuffling or stamping feet, rubbing hands as the donkey is untied, clopping of donkey feet and heehawing, snapping of twigs, running feet, out-of-breath panting and shouting – whatever the children can think of.
You will need: leaves from ‘Intro activity’
Just as the people praised God, so we can praise God. Talk about what the children want to thank God for, and what they want to tell him.
Encourage them to stand and wave their leaves as they sing the song ‘We have a king who rides on a donkey’ to the tune of ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor’:
We have a king who rides on a donkey (x3) And his name is Jesus.
Hooray his name is Jesus (x3) Riding on a donkey.
We have a king and we will love him (x3) And his name is Jesus.
We have a king and we will thank him (x3) And his name is Jesus.
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