wooden building blocks,
tray with glass nuggets or pebbles stuck to it (or some other way of creating an uneven surface).
Choose three children. Ask one to build a tower with wooden bricks on a firm surface, another on a tray of pebbles or glass nuggets (stuck down, so they can’t build between them), a third on the palm of someone’s hand. Which do they think they will build the tallest tower on? What actually happens?
Then swap and try it the other way. (In retrospect, it might have been better to have chosen one child and let them do each activity in turn – it would have been a bit clearer and less frenetic…!)
Why was it better to build on the firm, level surface? The bricks were the same. The builders were just as good as each other. The children all got the idea that it was the surface that made the difference and that it was really pretty impossible to build on uneven or shaky surfaces.
Jesus told a story…
There were once two men who each wanted to build a house. The first one came along and looked around for a good place to put it. He found a nice level spot beside a river. The soil was fine and sandy, it was nice and smooth and level. He would’t have to do anything to it at all. He could just get building. Now there were a few people who said to him…Ahem, do you think its wise to build there. Wise? Why not? It’s very easy to build here. I can just get right on with it. “Well,” they said. It is right by the river, and the reason why that sand so smooth and level is that he river washes over it during storms and smooths out all the sand…” But the man didn’t take any notice. Storms – what storms? He said.
He got the very best building materials he could. The best strong wood. Marble floors. Gold taps… What ever you could think of, he had. He started to build. And he built and built. Then he sat in his house and thought – what a fine house this is! And it was.
The second man, meanwhile, was also busy building and he had found another spot by the river. His house wasn’t nearly finished yet, though, because he had started not by building upwards but by digging downwards. He knew that the best and strongest houses have deep, firm foundations. The first man had seen him doing this – what a fool, he thought! Why dig downwards when you could build upwards? What a waste of time.
It was hard going too, because the second man had chosen to build his house not on the soft sand, but on hard rock, so he had to dig with a pickaxe. He’s making life very hard for himself, thought the first man.
But eventually, long after the first man had finished, he finished too. And his house was a very fine house as well.
And he only just finished in time, because that night, the rain began to fall. And it rained, and rained and rained and rained. And the wind got up. And it blew and blew and blew and blew. The rain ran down the hillside and into the river that ran past the two houses. The river started to fill up, but still it rained. It got right to the top of the river bank, and still it rained. It lapped at the doorsteps of the houses, and still it rained. And little by little it began to wash away the sand under the first man’s house, just like it does at the beach when the tide comes in. And eventually the house started to lean a bit, then it started to topple over, then it washed away completely and broke into pieces…
But the house on the rock stood firm. No amount of water could wash away the rock it was built on and it had firm deep foundations. And when the storm ended, the second man’s house was still there, but the first man’s house was nowhere to be seen, and he had to start all over again…
- What do you think the story tells us? (The children talked about “starting properly)
When we do something it is important to make plans – (we talked about writing a story or drawing a picture) – and take advice too.
Jesus said to his disciples, if you listen to God’s words and do what they say you will be building on good foundations and when something bad happens you will be able to cope much better.