Thursday, 7 November 2013

Jesus calms a storm

As the children arrived I played the sound of waves breaking gently on the shore  and showed a picture of a calm seashore on a powerpoint presentation.

What do you think I am going to tell a story about today...?

It's a story about the sea.
The picture we've just seen was of a calm sea, but here's a very different one.
File:Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee.jpg
Rembrandt (1606–1669) 

Talk about the picture. What is happening?
What are the people in it doing?
What might it feel like to be in this boat?
(I cropped and enlarged details of the picture to help us look at it).

It was the end of a long day, and Jesus was very, very tired. All day long he had been listening to people, healing people, helping people and now he was exhausted. He came down to the edge of the Sea of Galilee and asked his disciples to take him across it for a rest. Many of his disciples were fishermen so they thought that would be easy. They knew all about boats.
So they set out across the water. It was calm and still - a perfect evening.
Jesus put his head down on a cushion at the back of the boat, and soon he was fast asleep. His friends were glad they could help him and look after him.
But then the wind started to blow, and the waves started to get higher and wilder.
(Tell this part of the story as dramatically as you can!)
Then the wind blew even harder, and the waves got even higher.
They were coming into the boat.
The noise of the storm was almost deafening. They couldn't hear themselves speak. They couldn't even hear themselves think.
They were very worried, and they started to panic. They thought the boat was going to break into pieces and sink.
They forgot that they were supposed to be looking after Jesus and leaving him to rest.
"Wake up! Wake up!" they shouted at him. "Don't you care that we are going to drown?"
And Jesus woke up....
And he said to the storm " still" ( I whispered this part, and repeated it several times, to establish some calm)
And the wind dropped.
And the waves calmed down.
And all was quiet.
And the disciples and Jesus came safely to shore.
And they thought he must be very special to be able to do this - they were amazed.
But they also realised that he did care about them very much....

Storms can be very frightening (The children spontaneously told us about their experience of a recent storm at this point).

It's not just real storms that can be frightening.
Sometimes we can feel like we are in a storm when we get angry, or worried.
We get angrier and angrier till we don't know what we are doing any more...
We get more and more anxious till we can't think straight at all...
When that happens to me I remember this story, and Jesus who cares for us when we are in the middle of storms. Sshh... be still, he says to us. And if we calm down we find that often we know what we should do. We find too that there are people around to help us.

Play"Calm me Lord" by Margaret Rizza, and encourage the children to sit calmly and reflect on times when they have needed to calm down.

Prayer: ask God to help us remember when we are feeling like we are in the middle of a storm that he cares for us and hasn't forgotten us.