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BIBLE PASSAGE: Luke 14:15-24
BACKGROUND: To refuse an invitation in Jesus’ time was considered rude, since hospitality was a top priority culturally. There is plenty of feasting in the Gospels. Most children have been invited to a party, a wedding or a special occasion, and most will have gladly accepted the invitation and gone to the party. But for some children this will not have been their experience. How wonderful if today’s story can remind
them that God’s invitation is for everyone!
If possible, welcome everyone personally and make a special effort to ensure that everyone feels comfortable. Share out any refreshments you have brought. Talk about what makes them feel special and welcome at a party or even at school.
You will need: sheets of A4 white paper; stickers; felt-tip pens; something gold or silver for decoration
Give everyone a sheet of paper and ask them to make a special placemat for a grand feast. Each name should be clearly visible on the placemat along with a decorative border, picture or pattern. Carry on your party chat from ‘Circle time’ as you work.
Explain that every time you say “I’m so sorry!” the children should stand up, open an imaginary door, say a silent “No” and then sit down. When you say “A big sigh”, everyone should sigh and shake their heads. Tell this story:
Jesus was at a feast with lots of other guests. He had been telling stories about how people behave at special meals.
Towards the end of the meal, someone said to him: “The best thing must be to sit and eat at God’s great banquet!” So Jesus told the guests the following story.
There was a kind man (let’s call him Mr Bighearted). He wanted to invite lots of people to a great feast, so he made a list of everyone he wanted to come and sent them all an invitation. The day of the feast arrived. Just before the meal was ready to be served, Mr Bighearted sent out his servant to tell everyone who had been invited: “Come quickly. Everything is ready!” But the servant was in for a surprise.
The first man he went to said: “I’m not coming. I’ve just bought a field. I’m sure your master will understand. I’ve got to take a look at it and check everything’s OK. Please excuse me. I’m so sorry!”
The servant sighed a big sigh and went away. But he thought to himself: ‘Surely no one buys a field without first looking at it. This man is just making excuses!’
The servant went to a second house and knocked at the door. This man said: “I’m not coming. I’ve just bought ten cows. I’m sure your master will understand. I’ve got to see whether these cows are any good. Please excuse me. I’m so sorry!”
The servant sighed a big sigh and went away. But he thought to himself: ‘Surely no one buys cows without checking whether they’re any good. This man is just making excuses!’
The servant went to a third house and knocked at the door. This man said: “I’m not coming. I’ve just got married. I’m sure your master will understand. I’d forgotten I was getting married. Please excuse me. I’m so sorry!”
The servant sighed a big sigh and went away. But he thought to himself: ‘Surely no one forgets they’re getting married. This man is just making excuses!’
Mr Bighearted was shocked to hear that all these people had refused to come to his great feast. He ordered his servant to go out into the streets around his house and invite anyone who was hanging about there. After all, the meal was getting cold.
Plenty of people turned up in a bit of a mad rush, but there was still room for more. So Mr Bighearted sent his servant out into the country with his horse and cart to give lifts to anyone he saw. “Bring them in to my great feast!” he said. “I want my house to be full!”
Discuss the story using these questions, making sure everyone has the chance to contribute:
- What excuses did the three men give for not going to the big feast?
- We’re not told the real reasons why they refused to go. What might the real reasons have been?
- Everyone is invited by God to share in the great feast he has in his kingdom. Everyone is invited to become his friend, but some people give excuses. I wonder what excuses people might give for not accepting God’s invitation.
- How do you feel when you hear that God has invited you personally to be his friend?
You will need: plain biscuits; a choice of coloured icing; blunt, flat knives; cake decorations; other food or drinks to add to the feast
Give everyone a biscuit and show them the decorations you have brought. Encourage them to decorate the biscuits in whatever way they like.
Lay out the ‘feast’ on a table or floor mat using the placemats made in ‘Intro activity’. Before everyone sits down, walk together around the ‘table’ and look at the placemats. Comment on the decorations and also point out that every child and adult present has a placemat. Everyone is welcome.
But supposing someone didn’t want to join in. Ask the children what they would do with the person’s placemat? What about the space at the ‘table’? Might they ask someone to come in the person’s place and make a new placemat?
Explain that this is how it was in the story Jesus told. That’s how it is when God invites everyone to become his friend. Not everyone who is invited will accept. Still standing around the table, thank God that everyone present (name them all individual- ly) has been invited to join God’s feast, and to be his friend for ever.
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