Sunday 3rd May
Theme: Doubt no longer but believe
Target Age Group: 3 - 9
Approximate Time: 20 – 30 mins
In today’s passage, we encounter the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples. The first time he appears Thomas isn’t there and Thomas finds it incredibly difficult to believe the story is true. How can something so seemingly impossible happen? After all, people that have died don’t just come back to life. But when Jesus appears to them again, Thomas has an encounter with the risen Jesus that will change him forever. All of us have doubts about our faith from time to time. How can God work in my situation? And what about now, as the corona virus continues to cause havoc across the world? How can God be at work in this time? But Jesus encourages us not to lose faith and this session will help us explore how we can trust God even when it seems impossible.
Icebreaker: My Emoji Journey
Take turns to draw different emojis and see if your family can guess what they are.
Pick 3 different emojis which represent how you’ve felt during lockdown and explain to your family why you’ve chosen these.
If you don’t know many emojis, check out the following link for a full list;
Song: One Way Jesus
Play ‘One Way Jesus’
The main church service will be using this song in their service next week and are hoping that some families might film themselves doing the actions so that they can show you guys getting involved next week. During the week if you are able to find time to have a practice and then send a video of yourselves getting involved to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 4th May, we’ll make sure that you make it into the main video.
Scripture: John 20:19-29
Read the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples in John 20:19-29
1. How are the disciples feeling at the start of the first encounter story?
2. What is the first thing Jesus says to the disciples?
3. Who is missing when the first encounter happens?
4. What proof do they want that the disciples are telling the truth?
5. How does Jesus show that he is truly alive?
6. What is Jesus’ closing message to Thomas?
7. In what ways are the disciples changed from the start of the story?
8. What can this passage teach us that can help us during lockdown?
I wonder what different emotions you have felt in lockdown. I know for me, I have jumped around all over the place from boredom to frustration to grumpiness. And there have also been some lovely moments. I have experienced peace (On the occasional outing to the beach), pride (when Isaac started to read for the first time) and even real joy when we have shared some lovely family moments together or, more importantly, when the Domino’s delivery guy turned up. In strange and uncertain times, our feelings and emotions can be all over the place.
It was the same for the disciples in the passage we are looking at today. At the start of the passage, we hear how the disciples are together with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders. Then, all of sudden, Jesus appears and says ‘Peace be with you’. As the disciples realise who it is and that Jesus is really there with them, they go from fear to peace to being ‘overjoyed’. Again, in verse 21, it describes how Jesus says ‘Peace be with you’ as he breathes on them and gives them the Holy Spirit. What an incredible moment that must have been and what a rollercoaster – from the low of living in fear to the joy of realising that Jesus is alive and that the Holy Spirit is with them.
In verse 24 we are told that Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when this first encounter happens. When the disciples share the news ‘We have seen the Lord’, Thomas responds with doubt and unbelief. Even their joy isn’t enough for him – Thomas wants evidence and responds with the line; “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” For those of us that have tried to share our faith with others, we sometimes wonder why not everyone responds positively. But here, even one of Jesus’ own disciples, when faced with the testimony of all of his friends, still wants more.
A week later, the disciples are all together again and this time Thomas is with them. Interestingly, in verse 26, it mentions that, again, the doors are locked. Even after the first encounter with Jesus, the disciples have still not let go of their fear. And when Jesus appears among them, he speaks directly to Thomas ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Jesus does not dismiss Thomas’ need for proof but, out of love for Thomas, helps him to see that this is not a trick, or a ghost, but his real, resurrected, body. And this time, Thomas responds with worship, ‘My Lord and my God’. In the same way that the disciples went from fear to joy, so the encounter with Jesus has transformed Thomas from doubt to worship. In verse 29, Jesus says, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Like Thomas, all of us are capable of believing the things we can see, touch and feel, the things we can work out for ourselves. But what Jesus really wants is our faith, especially to hold on to belief in his power and love when we can’t always see the evidence directly.
So what about us and our journey? Well, back to those emotions. Whatever you’re feeling and however you’ve found this time, know that a personal encounter with the Lord can leave us changed. Whether it’s fear to joy or unbelief to worship, that encounter with Jesus can leave you transformed. But more than that, we can’t always rely on what we see, touch and feel. So, I encourage you to make the decision to have faith in the power and love of Jesus even if you’re not seeing the evidence you want right now. Because, Jesus is real, he is alive, he does love you and his promise is that ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.
Song: All through history
Look up the following link and join in with the song (And actions)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQS2HHayr38 (Just lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ixs2l2hzv4 (Just actions)
You will Need:
· A piece of A4 card (For the hands)
· A scrap piece of red paper or card
· A ruler
· A pencil and a pen
With your piece of A4 card landscape, fold it in half from right to left. Place your hand on top of the card with your thumb pointing towards the folded edge and draw round your hand. Using the ruler, draw a straight line at the base of the hand. Cut out the hand shape, following the lines, making sure not to separate the join of the two thumbs. Draw and cut out two hearts on your red paper / card and then stick them on in the palms (If you don’t have red card you can just draw or colour the hearts straight on to the palms). Finally, write the following passage along the base: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe’ (John 20:29).
Listen to the song ‘Saviour’ by Tim Hughes and 29th Chapter
Take some of the lines in the song and use them as a starter for prayer and reflection:
‘When the tears fall, still I will sing to you’
When were you last upset or sad? Do you ever talk to Jesus when you are sad, upset or angry?
‘Lift me from the floor and place me back upon my feet’
Have you felt like giving up? How can you draw strength from the love that God has for you?
‘You’ll be the song within my heart’
Do you spend time praising God each day? Have you got a favourite worship song or scripture verse that can help you praise God?
‘Now I’m a new man cos your love completely re-made me’
How has God helped you to grow as a person? Have you changed as a result of knowing God? How do you think your life would be different if you didn’t know God?
There may be other lines that stick out to you. Feel free to pick a line and meditate on it. How does it speak to you? And what does it tell you about God?