Long way from home – Autumn term 2017
This term we’ll be looking at the exile of the Jews and the return home. We’ll start by looking at the warnings and promises in Jeremiah, then life in exile in Daniel and finally the return to Jerusalem in Nehemiah.
This is the last in our series looking at the stories in the Old Testament and we’ve reached a difficult time for the Israelites. They’ve abandoned God and turned against Him. God has warned them again and again and they’ve ignored his warnings so He sends the Babylonians to capture Judah and take his people into exile. But God makes it clear He hasn’t forgot His people. A remnant will return to Jerusalem. In this series, we see how God keeps His promises and what life is like for God’s people in a foreign land.
(To see an archive of all of our sessions click here)
8/10/17 – Jeremiah 31 v 1-6, 32 v 1-15
Theme – Trust God and His promises for the future
The session began with the recap of last session. This was about Jeremiah and the potters shop and how God is in control. We then played a game where the children competed against each other to pile up their walls of plastic cups and knock them down. This linked into our story of today in the part where Jerusalem was destroyed and God had promised to bring his people home and rebuild the city.
The main teaching then came from Jeremiah 31 v 1-6 and 32 v 1-15. We used drama to tell the story and keep the kids engaged. The people pay no heed to Jeremiah’s warnings from God and so the Babylonians have invaded the land. The capital city, Jerusalem is under siege, and the year after the events in chapter 32 Jerusalem was captured and destroyed. So this seems an odd time to be buying land! But that is exactly what God tells Jeremiah to do when his cousin, Hanamel, asks him to buy a field. God wanted to show His people that He still had a plan for them. God wanted to show His people that he would restore Jerusalem and that His people would return to a rebuilt city and worship Him there. Buying the field would show that Jeremiah trusted God.
We then moved onto our memory verse of the term which is “I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future”. Jeremiah 29 v 11. During small group times we cut out the letters ‘H’ ‘O’ ‘P’ ‘E’ on kitchen roll and placed onto kitchen paper. We then wet it and sprinkled cress seeds on. This was to take home as a reminder of the hope Jeremiah has in God when he bought the field.
Jesus: Countdown to Easter
This term we’ll be looking at Jesus’ last few weeks before His death as told in John’s gospel. We’ll be seeing how Jesus is in control of the whole situation and is preparing his friends and disciples for what lies ahead. Jesus shows them He has the power over life and death by raising Lazarus from the dead. He shows He is control by predicting His death and the events around it. He prepares His disciples for what lies ahead and prays for them. And finally Jesus show His power and glory in his death and resurrection.
(To see an archive of all of our sessions click here)
12th March – John 18-20
Theme – Jesus’ death and resurrection
We started the session by looking back at what we wrote down 2 sessions ago. The Hot and the Cool team made a note of the predictions that Jesus made at the Last Supper to His disciples. We focused on four of these:
- One of Jesus’ friends will betray Him – Judas
- Peter will say 3 times he doesn’t know Jesus
- In a little while the disciples won’t see Jesus…
- … but in a little while they will see Him again.
(There were others in there like the disciples grief turning joy but we focused on those four).
We then read from John 18-19 while looking at a video clip from The Miracle Maker. As we heard John’s words the kids were looking out to see if those things that Jesus said would happen did come true. We saw Judas betraying Jesus by leading the temple guards and soldiers to Jesus (1). While Jesus was on trial with the priests Peter was outside and 3 times he told people he didn’t know Jesus (2). And we saw Pilate hand Jesus over to be crucified and Jesus being killed on a cross and put in a tomb (3 – Now the disciples could no longer see Jesus, He was dead).
These events happened just as Jesus said they would happen. Even though Jesus was killed He showed that He and God the Father were in control, this was all part of God’s plan. But what about the fourth one?
We then acted out the events in John 20 – Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene at the tomb, Jesus appearing to His disciples without Thomas in a locked room and Jesus appearing to His disciples with Thomas in a locked room. The disciples all saw that Jesus have risen from the dead and was alive. Just as Jesus had said – in a little while they would see Him again!
Even though the Easter story can be sad, upsetting and even scary we know throughout it that Jesus was in control that this was all part of God’s plan.
Given we’d just seen what God could do it felt appropriate to end with our song for the term – ‘God can do anything!’.
And as it was the last Starchasers of term we had the Big Star Count and prizes.
26th February – John 14,15,17
Theme – Jesus prepares His disciples
We did things a little differently at Starchasers today. We each got a soft cushion or wedge and made ourselves comfortable reclining on the floor. Then we read together Jesus’ words preparing His disciples for what was going to happen next.
We read in John 14 that Jesus promised to send them a Helper, a Protector – the Holy Spirit. And we read in John 15 that Jesus told His disciples to remain in Him and to love each other as I have loved you. It was unusual for us to read so us of the Bible in one sitting but we took the time to go through each passage twice to hear what Jesus wanted to tell His disciples.
We saw that Jesus was preparing His disciples to carry on God’s plan even after He went back to Heaven.
12th February – John 13,16
Theme – Jesus predicts what will happen
We started the session by showing some videos and asking the kids a simple question “What happens next?”. They didn’t do a great job of guessing that “a snake invades the airport” or “woman pulls a kitten from her pocket” and it can be hard to predict the future, to know what is going to happen.
But in today’s story Jesus does just that. Last time we looked at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem which took place on the Sunday and now we fast forward to the Thursday when Jesus is gathered together with his disciples to celebrate the Passover meal with them. They don’t know it yet but this would be Jesus’ last meal with them before his death.
We sat around the table with some wine (well blackcurrant juice) just like Jesus disciples gathered round to eat the Passover meal together. And we listened to hear what Jesus told them in John 13 and 16. We got one person on the Hot team and one on the Cool team to be a scribe during the meal and they had to write down all of Jesus’ predictions to see what would happen later.
As we read from the Bible we heard Jesus predict that Judas would betray Him, that Peter would deny knowing Jesus, that in a little while they would see Jesus no more and then after a little while they would see Him and that the disciples grief would turn to joy. As we read through the passage we also acted out how the disciples were feeling. A mixture of confusion, sadness and worry.
After the meal we had a quiz to see how closely the ‘disciples’ were listening to Jesus and to see if they remember what He predicted would happen. We held onto the pieces of paper the scribes wrote to see what would happen to Jesus and see if His predictions came true.
22nd January – John 12
Theme – The Triumphal entry
We began by thinking about how various people might arrive in London. What if it was someone very famous who everyone wanted to see? Justin Bieber, Usain Bolt, Beyonce? How would they enter? Perhaps by helicopter, limo, private jet?
And how might someone who people wanted to arrest arrive? Secretly? At night? In disguise?
At the start of today’s story people were wondering about Jesus coming to Jerusalem for the Passover. Would he come at all? Would he sneak in quietly? Would he come in like a king?
We read through the story of Palm Sunday, pausing to act out the scenes as we go. We learnt about Jesus sending his disciples to find a young donkey, a colt. About Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. About the crowds cheering and shouting as Jesus he came into the city. About the crowds throwing their cloaks and branches onto the road in front of Jesus. Jesus didn’t hide away from the religious rulers but he did come into the city in a very unusual way, riding on a young donkey. Why?
We went back hundreds of years, way before Jesus was born as a baby. And there we found the prophet Zechariah and heard what God had told Zechariah about a special king coming into Jerusalem. We find what God told him in Zechariah 9v9 and that Jesus came into the Jerusalem the way God said Jesus would hundreds of years before it happened!
All this shows that Jesus and God the Father are in control of the situation, not the religious leaders and not the people. Jesus and the Father will also be in control of the events that will take place over the next week.
8th January – John 11
Theme – Jesus has the power over life and death
This term at Starchasers our theme is ‘Countdown to Easter’. We’re looking at the last few weeks before Jesus’ death to see how this story unfolds. In it we see Jesus being in control of what is happening and preparing his followers for what is going to happen over the coming days.
To start the session we showed a few video clips of people we knew were good but then did something amazing that showed just how special they were. We saw Usain Bolt’s 100m final in 2008, David Beckham’s goal from the halfway line and Dynamo’s incredible card trick. Before then we knew these people were good but after something like this we really knew they were someone special. And in today’s story we see a similar moment for Jesus. Before then we knew He was incredible, better than Bolt, Beckham and Dynamo combined, but in today’s story Jesus did something that showed He was very, very special indeed.
Before the story we thought about some of the things we knew that Jesus had already done – heal the sick, feed thousands of people, make blind people see. Jesus’ followers and friends knew He was someone special but this was going to take things to another level.
We acted out the story in John 11 of a family in Bethany that Jesus loved – 2 sisters (Mary and Martha) and their brother (Lazarus). We heard how Lazarus got sick and a message was sent to Jesus. Instead of coming Jesus waited. Why? To bring glory to God and the Son of God. Then when Jesus knew Lazarus was dead He set off to Bethany.
At Mary’s and Martha’s house we see people mourning and crying for Lazarus. Both Mary and Martha think if Jesus had come sooner He could have healed Lazarus, but what could be done now? Jesus tells Martha He is the resurrection and the life, the person who believes in Jesus will live even though they die.
Jesus then goes to Lazarus’s tomb and asks for it to be opened, even though Lazarus had been laid in the tomb for 4 days already. Jesus prays to God the Father, thanking the Father that He has heard Jesus and asking that the people may believe the Father sent Jesus. Jesus then calls out to Lazarus and Lazarus rises and comes out of the tomb. And incredible event that showed Jesus even had the power over life and death.
We also looked at how people reacted to this event. Many believed in Jesus and followed Him. But the religious leaders, the Pharisees and chief priests plotted to kill Jesus.
We recapped the story with a quiz. We read through parts of the story in the Bible and then gave each team questions on what happened. Going through this story of how incredible Jesus really was.
And we finished with an easy to learn / difficult to master action song – ‘God can do anything!’. Reminding us again that God CAN do anything.
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