Posted in Crafts and activities, Ramblings, Uncategorized

Light of the World

Having drawn a very rough picture of a house and a wiggly path leading up to it on a flip chart sheet and stuck it on the wall, we played a game of Pin-the-Arrow-on-the-Path (like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey). The children thought it was hilarious being blindfolded, spun around, missing the picture entirely at first and then some sticking their arrow on a tree instead. However it’s surprising and lovely to see that they were all shouting helpful hints to each other during the game, so they were all winners!

Linking the game to our previous session on St Paul’s conversion, the kids remembered (hurray!) that Saul saw a bright light on the road to Damascus. Well, our conversation went a bit like this:

Me:   So… do you remember who spoke to Saul?
Child A:  Erm… is it… is it…
Child B (putting hand up but interrupting):  It’s Jesus!
Me:   Yes, well done! And do you remember what happened to Saul when he…?
Child C (shouting excitedly):  He was blinded!
Me: That’s right, he couldn’t see.
Child D: Saul changed his name to Paul.
Me: Yes he did… So he couldn’t see. It’s like when you were blindfolded just now.
Child A: She didn’t put her hand up.
Me:  I know. Put your hands up to answer… So what was it like to be blindfolded?
Child E (hand up): It’s dark!
Me: That’s a good answer. So when it’s dark, can you see where you’re going?
Children: No!
Me: Has anyone been out for a walk at night or in the dark?
Child B: My Mum has.
Me: So how can you see where you’re going or what you’re stepping in?
Child E: (hand up): You use a torch.
Me:  Good! So if you have some light, you can see in the dark. You know, Jesus said that he is the light of the world…
Me:  Remember Saul or Paul again? Who did he meet on the road, or who spoke to him in the light?
Child B: Jesus!
Child E: She shouted out!
Me: OK, no shouting out. And you know if you go into a room at night when all the curtains are drawn and there’s no light, is it easy to find what you want? What helps?
Child C (hand up): You turn on the light.
Child A: I don’t think God’s real. I don’t believe in him…
Rev James: That’s OK. I think it’s a good job God believes in you though.
Me: So… it helps you to see if you turn on the light. What happens to the dark when we turn on the light?
Child B (hand up): It disappears!
Me: OK! We’re going to make some light switch covers to put in our rooms, so each time you flip the switch, you can be reminded of Jesus being the light of the world and getting rid of the darkness.
Me: But just before we do that, can you all read this verse from the Bible?
Children (all keen to read):

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

We then chose our light switch covers to colour in, and the kids took them home… (If you would like to download the light switch cover template, click here. This is for most standard British light switches, and you will need to choose Actual Size when printing.)

However, I was secretly glad that nobody asked me what being “the light of the world” or “having the light of life” means, because I’m not sure I could have given the kids an adequate answer – I’m no theologian, and I doubt they would have wanted a well thought out reply. But I did think that we can all relate to this: we all like light and warmth. Having spent a long miserable winter on the British Isles, we can all agree that the days are lengthening and spring is just round the corner. We all look forward to more sunshine and light – it gladdens the heart and gives us hope. We see new life appearing as spring bulbs come up from the ground and flower. The light isn’t just brightness – it gives energy and life.

And for those of us who’ve had little ones who were scared of the dark, who couldn’t go to sleep for fear of something or someone jumping out from the shadows, the gentle glow of the nightlight was a life-saver! That light, however dim, calms our fears (in the case of the child) and restores our sanity (in the case of the grown-up’s).

So perhaps Jesus is saying that he’s like all of that – he brings life and hope, calms our fears and souls, gladdens and warms our hearts, and energises yet calms our souls. May we all know something of this great Light.

Posted in Ramblings

New Year, New You?

Yes I know, this is a bit late for a New Year post, but the idea of starting a blog for Kids’ Club didn’t occur to me right away at the beginning of the year, so better late than never! I gave up making New Year resolutions years ago because I never see them through. However, the very first session of Kids’ Club this year saw me telling the children about how Saul in the Bible became a whole new person when he met Jesus, so maybe there’s hope for me yet – if he can change, maybe I can change too – be a new me and keep going with this blog! Enough about me, and who’s this Saul you’re talking about, you ask, so in case you’ve forgotten the story, here’s a brief summary…

Saul → Paul

After Jesus dies on the cross, his followers are being picked on and a zealous young man named Saul is breathing out murderous threats against them (yes, that’s what it says in the Bible – not such nice things are recorded in there, but at Kids’ Club we tend to use the child-friendly version). One day, Saul’s on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians to put in prison, when a bright light knocks him down on the ground, and Jesus speaks to him in that light, asking him why he’s hurting his mates. Saul thinks, who the heck are you and what do you want? But out loud he says, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Then Jesus tells Saul to go into town and wait for someone to come and tell him what to do. When Saul gets up, he’s blind, and has no choice but to trust those around him to lead him by the hand. After three days, someone indeed comes and puts his hands on Saul’s eyes. Something like scales fall from them and now he can see! Saul believes in Jesus, changes his name to Paul, gets baptised and does an about-turn immediately and tells everyone to follow Jesus.

(If you wish to read all about it, it’s in Acts chapter 9 in the New Testament of the Bible.)

A new creation

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

Now that’s a dramatic experience in St Paul’s life, hence we’ve all heard of the phrases “road to Damascus experience”, “seen the light”, “scales fall from my eyes”… and whilst it’s great to have such life-changing and illuminating moments, I find myself wondering how I’m going to tell the kids to change – no, to even want to change, when life at the moment seems so good. We’re alright people; we’re fine as we are. Let’s face it, most kids in our little village haven’t had the chance to mess up big time (yet!) and let’s hope that they never will. That said, we all want to do better, and school and parents tell us to (which is a good thing), and be better people. But haven’t we all thought, “Blah blah blah, yes I know…” and life just carries on.

So, do we, or do we not want to change? When we think of being a changed person, or a new you and me, we might think of a caterpillar changing into a beautiful butterfly. It’s a powerful and dramatic transformation – they love that image in advertising; teachers teach metamorphosis at school (we all love “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”). And that’s what I did with the children at Kids’ Club – we made paper plate butterflies (If you’re interested in our activities, I have just put that in a separate post) to illustrate what St Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians,

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Yes, St Paul should know, shouldn’t he, of what it’s like to act on something you’ve believed in, thinking you’ve been doing the right thing all along, until one day you see things differently. You’re really not a bad person – you just haven’t had your beliefs challenged. Here’s what I find encouraging – Saul, or Paul, didn’t go looking for that life-changing encounter. God comes to him through Jesus. Also, your basic DNA doesn’t need to change – a caterpillar has the same stuff as a butterfly, just that at the right time, you’ll know you need some time to hide away in a cocoon, do a bit of struggling, and emerge having wings to fly. I am still me, you are still you, just God being involved in our lives. Now ain’t that beautiful?!