Thursday, 25 March 2010

Cleansing of the Temple – Holy Week – KS 1 & 2

In a minute I’m going to tell you a story from the Bible, but before I do, I’d like us to think for a bit about your school and all the things that happen in it.
It’s got lots of different rooms in it, for different things.
What happens in the hall?
What happens in Miss Smith’s office?
… the staffroom?
…your classroom? (classroom for learning, it is the children’s home base in school)

Just imagine one day if you came in to school and Badgers class discovered that Miss Smith had taken over their classroom, thrown out all their stuff and turned it into an office for herself because she decided she needed more space…
Badgers might ask her,”what are we going to do, where are we going to learn?”
“You’ll just have to find yourselves a space wherever you can! You could do your lessons out in the playground…”
“But it’s raining!”
“Well, you’ll all have to bring umbrellas then!”

What would you think if that happened?

I don’t think Miss Smith would ever really do that, but I want you to remember it as I tell you this story…

Jesus had come to Jerusalem.
A lot of people were very excited to see him. He had come into the city riding on a donkey, and that made people even more excited. They thought he was going to be a king. It might seem strange to us to think of a king riding on a donkey, but it didn’t to the Jewish people.
A great king from their history King Solomon, had come into the city when they began to rule riding on a donkey*. The prophets had promised that one day God would send the nation another king as great as Solomon. How would they know when he had arrived? He would come riding on a donkey.
So when Jesus came into Jerusalem they thought this was it. Their great new king. No wonder they were excited. They thought he would fight a great battle against the Roman army and set them free…
But Jesus headed straight for the Temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps he was going to pray before he started the battle?
Everyone followed.
They went into the Temple after Jesus. He just stood there, and looked around.

The Temple in Jerusalem had lots of different spaces in it, just like this school. (Put up OHP of Temple from
In the middle was the holiest place. Only the people who worked in the Temple could go there. Then there was a place where Jewish men, the men who lived in that country could go to worship. Then there was a place where Jewish women could go .
Outside that was space where anyone from anywhere could go. Foreigners who had come from far away who wanted to pray could go there. IT was their space, the only space they had in the Temple.
Jesus came into that space, where there should have been room for all these foreigners to pray, but what did he see? It had been turned into a market place. There were people selling animals, people changing money, tables everywhere, noise and bustle. It had been completely taken over, not by the foreigners it was for, but by the people who worked in the Temple, as a place to make money. There was no room for prayer anymore.
It was just like if Miss Smith had taken over Badger’s classroom and left them nowhere to learn, no space for themselves.

Jesus was furious. “This is supposed to be a place for people to pray. Foreigners haven’t got anywhere else they can go. You have stolen their space from them to make yourselves richer. That’s not fair, and it’s not what God wants!”

And Jesus began to pick up the tables where the people were selling things and tip them over. There was money rolling all over the floor. There were animals running around. It was mayhem!

This wasn’t what people had expected their king to do! He was meant to be attacking their enemies, but instead he was telling them off!
What kind of king was this…?

In the days that followed, most of the people who had been so pleased to see him changed their mind, and by the end of the week, they had had Jesus arrested and killed. But that’s another story, which I know we will be hearing about over the next week, and in church when you come for your Easter service…

When we thought about Miss Smith taking over Badger’s classroom we could see it wasn’t right. I’m sure we would all tell her so. I’m sure she wouldn’t do it anyway!. The story of Jesus in the Temple reminds us of how important it is make space for other people, to make them feel welcome.

Let’s be silent for a minute to think about that story.

Prayer: that we will welcome others and make space for them.

*1 Kings 1.33 (it is actually a mule, which is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, but the idea is the same.)

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Jonah – KS 1 &2 – Encouraging responsibility – SEAL theme “good to be me”

It is important as you prepare to tell this story that there was never any serious suggestion made by those who originally compiled the Bible that this story actually happened. It is told in the form of a folk-tale, and is similar to other ancient folk-tales.

Need: Cardboard signposts to Ninevah and to Tarshish

This is a story which the ancient people of the Bible told. They didn’t think it had really happened, but it was a good story which helped them to think about important things.

There was once a very powerful nation called Assyria. They had a huge army of strong soldiers with all the latest weapons. No one else stood a chance against them. They were cruel too, treating those they captured badly. Everyone was scared of them.
In the nation of Israel there was a prophet called Jonah – a man who listened to God. One day when Jonah was praying he heard God speaking to him.
“Jonah – I have a job for you.”
“Yes, God, what is it?”
“I want you to go to the city of Ninevah, the capital city of Assyria, right in the middle of their nation, and tell them that I want them to change their ways, to stop being cruel to others.”

(put up signpost to Ninevah)

Jonah was TERRIFIED. He wouldn’t last two minutes in Ninevah with all those cruel Assyrians about. They’d never listen to him. And even if they did, he didn’t think it was fair. Why should they get a second chance? Why didn’t God just destroy them anyway? Everyone would feel safer then.

But Jonah didn’t say anything.

He just got up and packed a bag. He went down to the harbour, where all the boats were and started asking where people were going to.
“We’re off to Tarshish”, said one group of sailors.
Put up sign to Tarshish facing in the opposite direction to the sign to Ninevah

“That’ll do,” thought Jonah…Is Jonah going the right way, the way God asked him to? (let children tell you that it is the opposite direction.)

But off they went to Tarshish. Jonah thought he could run away from Ninevah, and run away from God. But he was wrong.

In the night a great storm blew up. The boat was tossed about. The waves got higher and higher. (Invite children to make “waves” with their hands, if you are sure you can stop the ensuing riot when you need to…) The sailors were sure they would all be drowned. In those days people often thought that God made storms happen, and the sailors wondered who might have done something to make him send this storm.
It wasn’t one of them, but then they remembered their passenger, Jonah. He admitted that he was running away from God. “The only way to save yourselves is to throw me overboard,” said Jonah. They didn’t want to, but Jonah insisted, so that’s what the sailors did, and as soon as they did, the storm stopped.

Jonah began to sink in the water. This is the end, he thought. But God had other ideas. Deep down in the water below Jonah was a big fish. God sent the fish to where Jonah was and he opened his mouth wide and with one gulp, swallowed him. Down went Jonah into the fish’s tummy.
And there he stayed for three days, thinking about what had happened. Jonah saw that he should have done what God wanted, and he prayed to God to help him.

The fish kept on swimming till it came to the land, where it opened wide its mouth again and spat Jonah out.

Now Jonah went in the right direction, straight to Ninevah. He still wasn’t very happy about it though. He didn’t like the Assyrian Ninevites, and he didn’t think God should like them either. He walked into the city, though, and began telling them God’s message. “God is going to destroy your city! You wait and see!” (He wasn’t very nice about it!). He didn’t think they would take any notice of what he said. But he was wrong. Every one of them stopped what they were doing, started thinking, and felt really sorry for being mean to people. Even the king of the Assyrians heard the message, and he was really sorry for being a cruel king. He ordered all his people - and even their donkeys and cows – to fast (to stop eating for a while) to show how sorry they were.

And God forgave them.

Jonah might have been happy about this. After all, wasn’t it a good thing that God had forgiven them and that they had changed their ways?
But Jonah was furious.
“You’re just soft, God! They don’t deserve to be forgiven. They are mean, nasty people, who have done mean, nasty things. You should punish them.”
And Jonah went into a big, big sulk.
He sat in the desert, with the sun beating down on him, feeling sorry for himself and cross with God.
God thought, “How can I show Jonah that he is wrong to feel angry with me for forgiving the people of Ninevah?”
God had an idea.
During the night he made a plant grow up beside Jonah. In the morning there it was, shading him from the sun. Jonah loved his plant. It was his new best friend.
But the next night God sent a worm along which munched through the plant. In the morning it was all eaten up. All Jonah’s lovely shade was gone. He was really upset about the plant dying.
And God said to him, “Jonah, you are really sad about the plant dying. It was special to you. But you didn’t care at all about the people of Ninevah – men, women and children – who were special to me. They are my children, just as you are…”

And the story ends there, with Jonah sitting in the desert thinking about what God said to him.

We’re going to sit still and think now, just like he did. Sometimes its hard to love and care for people we don’t like, who might have done something mean to us, but God asks us to help them, just like he would.