So many different yet connecting themes can be explored during Harvest: Thankfulness; wonder and awe for the God of Creation; prayer and recognition for those who work hard to provide our food; focus on those who do not have everything they need for a basic, decent life.
We’ll post a variety of different ideas to supplement your appraoch to Harvest this year.
God says over and over again in the Bible that he does not want us to bring him our festivals and our ceremonies unless we are looking after the weakest people in our communities (communities can be local or global). It is important then to remind the children that as we celebrate all the good things that we have from the harvest that we must always make sure that everyone is included in the blessing. When we leave people out, we are not honouring God as he has asked us to. See Amos 5:11-15 & 21-24; Isaiah 1:11-18.
First of all, check out the Children in Church Resources on the Christian Aid Website:http://www.christianaid.ie/resources/churches/resources/children-in-church.aspx
There are ideas here for exploring justice issues with children at all times of the year. Two are specifically for Harvest (one about people whose livelihoods are collecting Brazil nuts in the rainforest and the rainforest is being chopped down by big companies and the other one is about bee-keeping in India) but lots more could be adapted to suit your own programme.
1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14 and John 9: 1-41
There is so much scope for exploring faith with children. We’ve taken ideas from the Old Testament, New Testament and the Psalms.
1. The passage in 1 Samuel 16 looks at how we see ourselves and then how God sees us. Roots magazine looks at how lots of people these days are taking ‘selfies’ (pictures of ourselves) where we pose and pout and try to look fabulous. This passage says that God does not look at our outward appearance (if we are tall or short, have a pointy nose or a flat nose) God looks at the heart.
One idea for exploring this is to allow the children to take selfies with silly pouts or funny faces. Get the other children to hold a makeshift picture frame in front of their faces that has the words ‘God looks at the heart’. If you have permission you can print the pictures at a later date and have the children make frames for them this week. They can decorate them with heart shapes to remind them that God looks at the heart and they can put the verse on it too. The idea that ‘the Lord looks at the heart’ can also be introduced to explore what kind of people love us, care for us and protect us? What kind of things do they have in their hearts? You could re-take pictures (potentially using funny moustaches, wigs and glasses!) but holding up signs that read ‘Love’, ‘Joy’, ‘Peace’, ‘Patience’, etc to denote what God is looking at when he looks at our hearts.
Possibly one of the greatest joys in leading a Sunday Club is the chance to introduce the children to the fact that they are never alone. Look at your shadow – it’s there when the light is shining brightly but when it’s dark it disappears! (You can bring a bright light to show how we can see our shadows and how closely they stick to us!) But even when we can’t even see our shadow God has promised us that He is still there, bringing comfort and never abandoning us.
There is a lovely veggietales song on Youtube about God’s love staying without us throughout the day no matter what kind of day we have had. Check it out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ch239kCT3Q
3. Ephesians 5:8-14 is all about living in the Light and not in Darkness. Some of the things we do in secret are things we are ashamed of. This compliments the 1 Samuel reading about not judging on appearances but judging on what is in our hearts. But all of us, even the leaders, even the minister, do things sometimes that we are ashamed of. It might be that we lie or wish bad things for a brother or sister or feel ungrateful for what our parents do for us or want to be somebody else. These thoughts and actions and attitudes can keep us from living in the light. Get the children to curl up into as tight a ball as they can on the ground. Slowly tell them to unravel – you can talk them through it – until they are starting to straighten up. Tell them to look around them as if they had woken out of a long sleep and ask them to say one thing they are grateful for. Do the activity again and at the end ask them to name one person they are grateful for. The third time ask them to say one thing about God they are thankful for. The words they speak are in a group and all at once. But speaking things out reminds us that we must look up (Love God) and look out (Love Others) and we must remind ourselves to do this or else it’s like we’re walking around asleep, or in the dark, and missing out on all the wonderful things that God has for us in the Light.
First things first, click on this Roots Lent Calendar. It allows you to see an overview of Lent and then to follow it as it progresses, looking at a different Bible passage each week. It’s a great idea that can easily be adapted to this year’s calendar: http://www.rootsontheweb.
For older kids you could start your discussions by showing this short but effective video clip by Busted Halo that puts Lent in the context of Fasting; Praying; Giving or, if you want to explore new words with the group there’s also words like Repentance, Renewal and Community. It moves really fast and is wordy so maybe ask people to pull out two points made in the video that stood out to them or that they didn’t know before: Ash Wednesday and Lent Explained
If you need to brush up on your own understanding of Lent, this link will take you to a Bible Blog. Scroll down to the bottom to get Colouring pages, Bible verses and Bible Flashcards:http://whatsinthebible.com/what-is-lent/
Excellent ideas around engaging the senses to participate more fully in Holy week can be found on the engage worship website. It gives good ideas for a Family Service on Palm Sunday and could be used just as succesfully in a Sunday Club context. It can be found here:http://engageworship.org/ideas/Jesus%27_Final_Week_family_communion_service
Check out our Lenten Newsletter and our Advent & Christmas Programme suggestions in the ‘News & Events’ and ‘Programmes’ categories on this website for loads more seasonal ideas to get engage your Sunday Club.