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BIBLE PASSAGE: Matthew 5:13-16
BACKGROUND: In Jesus’ day, salt would have been used for flavouring and preserving, and people also used small clay lamps to burn olive oil, so his analogy would have really spoken to them. Shining our light so that others praise God, or so that we can ‘change the world’, can seem huge, so it’s important to emphasise to the children that this is about shining their light in all the places they go, in their world. There is an opportunity to share a story of someone you know who has done this. The more ‘ordinary’ the story the better!
Invite the children to sit together in a circle and encourage them to share stories from their week. Celebrate any birthdays or special events. It may be helpful to have an object or cuddly toy to pass around for the children to hold as they speak. Ask them: “What was the best thing you did this week?” Thank God that he is with you and ask him to help you learn more about him today.
You will need: lots of different types of light, for example a candle, torch, lamp and headtorch
Turn off or dim your main lights and show the children all the different kinds of light you have brought. Light is powerful. It helps us find our way and gets rid of darkness. Let the children play with any lights provided that it is safe for them to do so. Say that we’re going to hear today about how Jesus says we can shine his light everywhere we go.
You will need: a picnic blanket; a light and bucket; a saltshaker; a torch
Lay out your picnic blanket and invite everyone to sit down. Then tell this story:
Jesus loved speaking to people. One day he was teaching a huge crowd all about how they could become more like God. They sat down on a mountainside to listen.
Jesus told the people: “You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” Hold up a saltshaker.
A long time ago, before people had fridges and freezers, it was hard to keep food fresh. People would cover their food in salt and this would help to stop it getting yucky and rotten. Jesus calling us the salt of the earth was like him saying that we help to keep things fresh. By loving God and helping others we help to bring goodness in the world.
Jesus also said: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. People don’t light a lamp and hide it under a bowl. Instead, they let it shine so people can see. When you shine God’s light, others will know God too.” Switch on a lamp and cover it with a bucket.
Imagine turning on a light so that you can eat your dinner or do some colouring, then covering it up and sitting in the dark instead. Wouldn’t that be silly?
That’s what Jesus was saying. His light is so bright and God’s love is such good news that it would be silly to hide it. When we choose to ask Jesus to live in our hearts and ask him to help us shine his light, we can change the world. We change the places around us. Hold up a torch and turn it on as you talk about Jesus’ light.
It’s as though Jesus’ light is a torch ready for us to turn on. We just have to ask him to shine his light so we can show other people how bright and powerful he is. When we don’t know where to go in the dark we can shine a torch to light the way. When we’re connected to God we can show other people how to find him. We can share with them how much God loves them and help them to connect with him. We’ll stand out like a bright light!
There are lots of amazing stories about people who shone God’s light and changed the world around them. Find one to share with your children of someone who let their light shine, and explain the impact it had. It would be great to share an example of someone in your church or to invite someone to come in and share the story themselves.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging everyone to take turns to answer:
- What was your favourite bit in today’s story?
- Changing the world can feel big, but Jesus says we can change our world, so that means all the different places we go. Which places do you go where you can shine your light?
- Who do you know who is really good at sharing God’s love with people around them?
- What was your favourite bit of [name’s] story?
You will need: glow sticks or battery-pow- ered tea lights; paper bags; scissors, felt-tip pens or crayons; items to decorate bags Make paper bag lanterns. Give each child a bag and help them cut out patterns in it. Then let them colour the bags in and decorate them however they would like to. Give each child a light so they can put it inside their bag. Chat together about how we can shine God’s light wherever we go to help others know God.
You will need: worship music (this could be someone leading, a video or just the music, whatever works best in your setting)
Sing ‘City on a hill’ by Nick and Becky Drake or another light-themed song. Tell the children that Jesus said we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He said we can help others and teach them about God.
As you sing: “Let your light shine”, sing this as a prayer over each other, using your hands to signal shining light on everyone. Thank God that having Jesus living in each one of you can change the world.
ANNIE WILLMOT is a children’s worker and mum to two boys. She loves nothing more than an honest conversation and a good cup of tea.
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