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Bible passage: Daniel 5
Background: This is a strange story, but beneath the surface we can see God perceiving injustice and sin, and bringing judgement against those who gloat over the fall of Israel and Judah. The events of the story will be alien to children, but this sense of injustice and the hurt it can cause will be real to some in our groups. God is still interested in our lives and fights on our side.
Welcome the children by name and invite them to join you in your circle. Save your refreshments for ‘Intro activity’, but chat with the children about the events of their week. If you have done anything out of the ordinary this week share it with the group (if appropriate). Ask the group what their favourite food is and whether they can remember any particularly good meals they have had.
You will need: some simple foods to prepare (such as sandwiches to make or biscuits to decorate); the means to prepare these snacks; cover-up and clean-up equipment
Before the session, gather together the ingredients and equipment needed to prepare two or three simple dishes, such as sandwiches to make or biscuits / cupcakes to decorate. Make sure everything is easy for the children to prepare, and be aware of food hygiene and allergy issues.
Show the children the food you have brought with you and help them put everything together. As you work, continue your chat about favourite foods and memorable meals.
You will need: food from ‘Intro activity’; water or squash; cushions and rugs; tablecloth; paper plates and cups
Show the children the rugs, cushions and the tablecloth, and work together to create a place where you can all sit or lie and have your meal. Lay the tablecloth in the centre and arrange the rugs and cushions around it. Put the food on the tablecloth and sit on the cushions and rugs. Start your meal, sharing out the food and making sure everyone has something they can eat.
Halfway through your meal, explain that today’s story happened during a meal:
Do you remember our four friends, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They were friends of God, but lived in a place called Babylon, where most people didn’t know God. They stood up for him and stayed friends with him, even though it was dangerous. If you did the first two sessions of this series, ask the children if they can remember any stories about the four friends.
There was a new king called Belshazzar. Practise saying Belshazzar together. One day he was having a big feast, like we are now. He invited all his friends and family. Belshazzar wanted to use some special cups and plates, so he ordered his servants to get some silver and gold cups and plates that had been stolen from the temple – the special place where God’s friends worshipped him. Belshazzar and his guest laughed at God and said that their gods were better.
These cups and plates were special, and Belshazzar shouldn’t have insulted God. God saw what was happening and wrote some words on the wall of the room where Belshazzar has having his feast. Belshazzar didn’t know what the words meant or that they came from God. None of his friends, family, servants or advisers could read them.
So they sent for Daniel. They knew Daniel was special, and that he was a friend of God. When Daniel read the words he told the king he’d done terrible things and that God was going to punish him. Belshazzar wasn’t going to be king for very much longer.
And do you know what happened? That night, another king came and took over the city. Belshazzar wasn’t king any more!
Chat about the Bible story using these questions. Try to involve all the children in the discussion:
- What’s your favourite part of this story?
- What do you think about Belshazzar’s actions?
- Has anyone been mean to you or laughed at you the way Belshazzar laughed at God? What happened?
- What can we do when people are mean or laugh at us?
You will need: a large sheet of paper; a marker pen
Explain to the children that God often uses people to help us when things go wrong, or when people laugh at or are mean to us. In this story, God used his friend Daniel and the new king to stop Belshazzar insulting God and to make things right again.
Gather the group around the large sheet of paper and ask them who they think God might use to help us. Write down the children’s suggestions. Also write down how those people can help them. If they need a bit of inspiration you could point out how their parents or carers, teachers or people at church might help them.
Once you have finished writing the list, think together about how we can get help from these people when we need it. Point out that God has put people in our lives to help us!
You will need: the sheet of paper from ‘Creative response’
Have a short time of prayer, asking God to help you when people are mean or laugh at you. Ask the children if they have any specific times when others have made them feel bad. If these issues are unresolved, pray specifically that God would help them and make things better. If those times were in the past and are now OK, thank God for sorting things out.
Finally, thank God for the people on your list and for putting them in your lives to help you.
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