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Bible passage: Luke 19:28-44
Background: Jesus has been demonstrating God’s kingdom with miraculous signs and provocative stories, but now it’s time for him to prophetically enter Jerusalem as the king he is. The crowds are high on excitement, and the Pharisees realise they need to shut this down fast. Jesus points out to them that even creation recognises who he is and weeps over the destruction that will happen to Jerusalem because of its failure to recognise him.
As you begin the session, invite the group to sit together in a circle and pass around a simple object. When a child has the object they can share their response to the question. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a sand timer so you have time for each person to share if they want to. If a child doesn’t want to say anything they can just pass on the object. Ask the children what the strangest thing anyone has asked them to do is.
You will need: a large sheet of fabric; masking tape; felt-tip pens
Spread out the fabric sheet on the floor (it will help if you can tape the edges down). Give the group felt-tip pens and ask them to think about words they might use to praise Jesus. These could be describing words or they could be phrases they’ve learned from the Bible. It’s good for the leaders to contribute here as they may have different phrases. Ask the group to write their words creatively on the fabric. Encourage them to use lots of different sizes of lettering so the whole sheet is covered.
You will need: a first-Century costume; a toy or cardboard donkey; the sheet from ‘Intro activity’
Before the session, dress a leader up in traditional Bible dressing-up gear: a dressing gown and tea towel usually works! Position the leader somewhere at the edge of your space, clearly visible to the group but not alongside them. Have a toy donkey (or cardboard cutout) tied to the wall or a piece of furniture close to the leader.
Tee up the story by talking about all the signs and stories Jesus has been responsible for over the past three years of his life. The group might be able to suggest some of them. Say that Jesus knew that it was time to go up to Jerusalem – the main city – to do something that would be a sign to everyone of who he was. Before that happens, though, Jesus asks two of his disciples to go and get something for him. What does the group think this might have been? Choose two volunteers and ask them to bring you the donkey that is tied up. Tell them that if anyone asks them why they are taking it, they’re to say: “The Lord needs it.” As they’re untying the donkey, your leader should ask them what they’re doing (in as dramatic a fashion as possible!) and hopefully they will remember the response.
When they bring the donkey back, choose another volunteer to be Jesus and have them ride (or walk with) the donkey across the sheet where you all previously wrote words of praise for Jesus. Talk about how lots of people came out to see Jesus enter the city like this, and they all shouted words of praise. You could get the group to shout their words. The people who were in charge of religious affairs (the Pharisees) weren’t too chuffed about what was going on. They wanted to shut the people up and stop Jesus. Jesus told them that even if the people were quiet the stones on the road would cry out in praise.
As Jesus continued to ride into Jerusalem he became aware of how far the city was from God. He could see the future that was coming, when the city would be destroyed by its enemies (which happened 70 or so years later). Jesus cried as he thought about these things.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to contribute:
- Do you think the disciples thought that taking the donkey was an odd thing to do?
- Why did all the people come out to see Jesus ride in? Why didn’t the Pharisees like Jesus? What sort of feelings might they have had about him?
- Would the stones really have shouted? What did Jesus mean when he said this?
- Would you have cried tears over Jerusalem if you were Jesus?
You will need: stones (no bigger than fistsized); sticky googly eyes; card; scissors; felt-tip pens; strong glue
Jesus talks about the stones crying out. Ask everyone to write a word or phrase about Jesus onto a piece of card and draw a speech bubble around it. These need to be quite small, so you might want to preprint the speech bubbles. Let them choose a stone and stick on some eyes, then have a leader use strong glue to stick the speech bubble on.
You will need: a bowl of salty water
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. What things in our world make us sad? Have a think for a few minutes, then place a bowl of salty water in the middle of the circle. If the group members want to they can dip their fingers into the water, speak out the situation they are sad about and then taste the ‘tears’. You can pull these prayers together by asking God to be present in all the situations mentioned.
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