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Bible passage: Luke 7:36-50
Background: This month, we’re looking at people Jesus met. In this session it’s Simon the Pharisee and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. Younger children are not as cynical as adults, so will see the woman’s actions as a kindness to Jesus. But Simon the Pharisee sees only the sins of the woman and not the amazing thing she does. We won’t explore the story Jesus tells Simon, as this would overcomplicate the story for very young children, but they can grasp the essence of what is happening.
As the children arrive, welcome each one by name. Invite them to join your circle and share in the snacks you have brought. Chat together about what has happened since you last met. Ask the children if they have ever been to someone’s house for a meal. What was it like? How did their hosts welcome them? If possible, share an appropriate example from your own life.
You will need: water-play equipment; different pieces of fabric; child-safe detergents with different fragrances; child-sized rubber gloves
Set out the water-play equipment and let the children play with whatever they like. Introduce the idea of washing things to make them clean. Give out the fabric and some detergents and show the children how to create bubbles and wash the cloth. Enjoy smelling the different fragrances and decide together on which is the best. Give out rubber gloves if any of the children might be sensitive to your detergents.
You will need: dolls (one for each child, plus two more); food-play equipment; jar of perfumed ointment or cream; baby wipes
Together, set out the dolls and food-play equipment in the middle of the room. Put the food in the centre and sit or lie all the dolls except one around the outside (keep the spare doll next to you). Let the children direct how this is done. When everything is laid out, sit them around the doll dinner party and tell the following story.
One day, a very important man called Simon invited Jesus to dinner. Point at one of the dolls to indicate Simon. They all sat around the dinner table and started to eat.
Then a woman who had done lots of things wrong came to the party. Bring out the spare doll and stand it next to the dinner party. She knew Jesus was there, and she wanted to meet him. She was so sorry for all the things she had done wrong and she started crying. She sat at Jesus’ feet and her tears made Jesus’ feet wet. And do you know what? She dried Jesus’ feet with her hair!
Then she brought out a jar of very expensive perfume. Pass the jar of ointment or cream around the circle so the children can smell it. She poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet.
Invite everyone to pick up a doll (leaving Simon and the woman behind). Give the children a baby wipe each and show them how to clean their doll’s feet with the wipe. Once the children have wiped their doll’s feet, encourage them to put it back on the table.
Simon saw what happened and was angry! “This woman is a very bad woman! Jesus should not let her touch his feet!” Move the Simon doll around angrily as you say this.
Jesus said to Simon: “You didn’t help me clean my feet when I came in from the dusty road, but this woman did. She knows she has done things wrong and is very sorry. She has done the right thing!”
Then he said to the woman: “You are forgiven for all the wrong things you have done.” And the woman was very happy. Dance the woman doll around happily.
Chat about the Bible story using these questions. Try to involve all the children in your discussion:
- What was your favourite part of the story?
- Did anything surprise you?
- What was important to Jesus?
- What would you like to say to Jesus?
You will need: art and craft materials; A3 paper; playdough or clay; dolls, food-play equipment and baby wipes from ‘Bible story’; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Before the session, gather together plenty of resources to help the children respond to the story. Encourage them to think about what they might like to do to think more about the story. They could draw a picture, make a model from playdough or re-enact the story using the props from ‘Bible story’. You might need to help them makes their decisions, then assist them in getting all the materials they need. Make sure the children know they should share resources if someone else wants to use them. As the children work, join in with them. Continue to chat about the story and what they think about Jesus. What do they think of the woman or Simon? Chat about what this story means to you and why we need to say sorry to Jesus, like the woman.
You will need: baby wipes; upbeat music and the means to play it
Sit or stand in a circle and give each child and leader a baby wipe. Ask everyone to wipe their hands clean. As they do so, encourage them to think about the things that they have done wrong, or the things they haven’t done that they should have.
Invite them to say sorry to Jesus for those things in their heads. Remind them that Jesus forgave the woman, and that if we are sorry he forgives us as well. Put your upbeat music on and dance around to celebrate.
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