Prayer and worship activity
Before the session, set up lots of different sources of light all over the church: candles (real or battery powered); torches; glow sticks; a video of a camp fire; a spotlight; a lamp etc. If possible, darken your meeting space so that the sources of light are more visible and effective.
As people arrive, encourage them to wander around your space and look at the different light sources you have set up. Which one do they like the best? Why do they like that particular light? Take a vote on which source of light is the most popular and gather some feedback as to why. Gather round the most popular light and thank God for giving us light to see. Read out this verse from the start of Genesis: “God said, ‘I command light to shine!’ And light started shining. God looked at the light and saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:3–4 CEV).
Ask for some volunteers who are happy to be blindfolded and invite them to the front. Put a blindfold on each one, and ask them how they feel. Challenge them to walk from one side of the stage or equivalent to the other. Was that easy?
Chat about how difficult it is to walk in the dark. What are the dangers of walking around with no light? Gather some suggestions. Spend some time thinking about literal light and dark, then challenge people to think about what metaphorical light and dark might be. (This might be difficult for children to think about, as they will struggle with abstract thinking.)
Ask people for examples of people who might be walking in metaphorical darkness. Then challenge the congregation to think about when they might be ‘walking in the dark’. Give a few moments for everyone to chat to God about this.
Say: In the story of Jesus that John wrote, called the Gospel of John, John tells us about Jesus through statements Jesus said about himself. He said:
“I am the good shepherd,” “I am the true vine,” and “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Today we’re going to look at another of these statements that Jesus said about himself. John tells us about it in chapter 8 of his Gospel.
Give out torches, glow sticks etc, making sure people of all ages have one.
Go on to tell the following story to the congregation. Encourage everyone to shine their lights when Jesus talks about light.
Whenever Jesus travelled around and taught people, he was surrounded by people. Some of these people were his friends: they were the people he had chosen to be his disciples. Lots of other friends followed Jesus too. There were people in the crowd who were curious. They heard Jesus say such amazing things that they wanted to know more. They jostled for the best position to see Jesus and listen to what he had to say. No one had ever taught like Jesus before – he was wonderful!
Not everyone who listened to Jesus liked what he had to say. Some of these people were the religious leaders. They had started to get jealous of Jesus, and all the crowds that followed him around. They thought that people would stop listening to them. Every chance they could, they asked him a question to trip him up, to make him say something wrong. But they hadn’t yet succeeded.
One day, the people were following Jesus and listening out to what he said. This time, he spoke to the people, saying: “I am the light for the world! Follow me, and you won’t be walking in the dark. You will have the light that gives life.”
Encourage everyone to turn on their torches or snap their glow sticks. They should wave them around and cheer to celebrate Jesus being light for the world.
The people were astonished! But some of the religious leaders were angry! How can Jesus say this about himself? He’s got no proof! But Jesus knew what they were saying. They didn’t understand who Jesus was, and they refused to listen to what Jesus had to say. These religious leaders thought they had all the answers, but they were walking in the dark. Jesus is calling us all to walk in the light. What does that mean to you?
Reflective response to the story
Teach the congregation the memory verse song ‘Follow me’. Sing the song together so that you can learn the Bible passage for the day. If you wish, you could make up actions to go with the song.
Once you have sung the song together, break up into groups of differing ages and chat together about what ‘walking in the light’ means. Encourage the groups to think about things like following Jesus, living God’s way, being free from the things we do wrong, being open and honest etc. Bring the groups back together and sing the song once more.
Say: If Jesus is the light for the world, what does that mean for our community or neighbourhood? In Matthew 5:14–16, Jesus tells his friends that they are the light for the world too. This means that we take Jesus’ light out into the world, so that everyone can see how amazing he is by the things we do and say.
Set out sheets of flip-chart paper and marker pens around the church. Encourage people to gather around them and come up with suggestions about how we can take Jesus’ light out into the world. This could be through organised events, social action projects or through our day-to-day lives.
Once the groups have come up with some suggestions, invite people to share what they might like to do so that people in their community can see Jesus, the light for the world, and demonstrate how they can walk in the light. Say a prayer for your congregation, asking God to guide and bless these ideas. If possible, return to this the next time you meet, so that people can report back how their ‘light-bringing’ went.
Split into mixed-age groups and discuss these questions:
- What do you think it means that people are walking in the dark?
- How is Jesus light for the world?
- What can we do to help people see Jesus’ light?
- Has Jesus made a difference in your life? Share your story!