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Bible passage: Matthew 22:34-40
Background: Love can be an abstract idea for many of us, and loving God can be even more so. Jesus is very kind in the way he breaks down all the different ways we can love God so we can think them through. This session is designed to help the children work out how to show their love to God in practical ways. It will help to make loving God a more concrete idea and will show the children that it isn’t all about singing worship songs, but also about the way we live our lives. There are some deep themes in this session, for example “What did Jesus mean by ‘soul’?” so be prepared for good discussions!
You will need: a variety of items that will provoke an instant reaction of love or hate (see below)
Welcome the children to your group by name and chat together about the past week. Share in their triumphs and disasters and divulge something from your own life. Ask the children what they love (and hate).
Show the group a variety of items that people either love or hate, for example Marmite, prawn cocktail crisps, a picture of a famous singer, a football shirt, a picture of snow, the Fortnite logo, a McDonald’s burger or a picture of Simon Cowell. Label one side of the room as ‘hot’ and one as ‘not’. Take turns to hold up and describe each item. Group members have to move to the ‘hot’ or ‘not’ side depending on whether they love the item or not.
You will need: paper and pens
Divide the children into teams. Each team must create a name, a logo and a list of ten team rules. Some rules can be funny (for example: “Whenever a person speaks they must floss.”) and others more serious (“We won’t bully people with our words or our bodies.”).
Once they have compiled their list of rules, hold a vote within the teams to decide which is the most important rule and which is the funniest. Bring everyone back together and hold a final vote on the best and silliest rules. Can these be incorporated into the guidelines you have for your group?
You will need: a large sheet of paper; a marker pen
Invite each team from ‘Intro activity’ to stand up and present themselves, sharing their most important and funniest rule with the rest of the group.
Explain that in this session’s Bible passage the teachers of the Jewish law asked Jesus: “What is the most important law?” They were trying to trick him into saying something that went against the rules. Ask each team to discuss and decide what they think Jesus’ answer was. (Some children might know the ‘right’ answer. Don’t validate any of the suggestions; accept all answers.)
Collate all the answers into one list, writing everything down on the paper. Hold a vote with the whole group to see which answer is the most popular. Then read Matthew 22:34-40 to the group and see who, if anyone, voted for the answer Jesus gave. Chat about what the children think of Jesus’ answers.
Wonder together about how easy these two commandments are to follow. What have you done to love God and your neighbour? If the children have any answers, let them share those now. Otherwise, move the discussion straight into ‘Chatting together’.
Ask the children these questions, encouraging them to take turns to contribute. You could do this in the small groups you have been using in this session, or all together:
- Why do you think Jesus said that loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds is the most important rule?
- Is loving God really a rule? • What does it mean to love God with our hearts?
- How do we love God with our minds?
- What did Jesus mean by ‘soul’ and how can we love God with our souls?
- Who are our neighbours and how can we love them?
You will need: three thin strips of material in different colours per child; pens
Give out the strips of material and tell the children that one represents our heart, the second our mind and the third our soul. Ask the children to think about how they are going to choose to love God with their hearts, minds and souls, then encourage them to write these responses on the strips of material.
Plait the three strips together and make a wristband for the children to wear as a reminder of what they have committed to do. Then chat about what it means to love your neighbour. How can they do that in the coming week? If you have a story about how you have loved a neighbour recently you could share it now.
You will need: tubes of toothpaste with three coloured stripes; large sheets of paper
Split the children into groups (you could use the same teams as you used earlier or stay together if your group is smaller). Ask each team to think of a prayer that expresses their love for God using their hearts, minds and souls. Using the toothpaste, they are going to write a ‘toothpaste prayer’ on the large sheet of paper.
When they have finished writing them, each team takes turns to say their prayer out loud together.
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