18 February 2024
Bible readings for today
God of Heaven and Earth,
descend on us, we pray,
in this season of Lent;
strengthen us in the face of temptation
so we may proclaim the Good News and reveal your ways.
Through Jesus Christ our Liberator,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-15)
Today's story talks about the baptism and temptation of Jesus.
This week is the first Sunday of Lent. You might like to make a creative calendar to count the days, and encourage children to take up something that would remind them of Jesus (reading the Bible, picking up litter to care for creation, encouraging someone each day)
The Marshmallow Test
Talk to the children about what temptation is. Talk about how our parents and teachers teach us what is right and what is wrong and sometimes it is hard not to do the thing we’ve been asked not to! See if they have a story to share about that. Is it hard not to eat more lollies from the packet when your Mum/Dad has said no?
Give them each small paper plate, 2 pipe cleaners and 1 button with 2/4 holes in (not too small). Tell them about how although Jesus is the Son of God, he too had to face temptation. He knew though, that the most important thing of all was to make sure that he put God first in his life. So that, when he face a difficult choice, he made the right decision because he wasn’t thinking about himself, he was thinking about what God would want. Sometimes when we give into temptation and we do something we know we shouldn’t, we might then be tempted to try and hide what we did! This can lead to more trouble.
You can also show them a clip like this Marshmallow Test.
Can anyone tell me what Season we are about to start? (pause) I’ll give you a clue, it starts this week on Ash Wednesday. Does anyone know? (pause). Well, the season is Lent.
The bible story we heard today told of Jesus spending forty days in the desert, and of how the devil tried to tempt Jesus into doing bad things during those forty days.
Lent is the forty days leading up to Easter and is a time when we can take time out to think about what is really important, and to prepare for the celebration of Easter Sunday.
One way that people mark Lent is to do what Jesus did and give up something for forty days. It could be eating chocolate, or watching TV. And every time during the forty days that you are tempted to eat chocolate or watch TV, you pray to God instead.
Something else you can do, is instead of giving something up, you can commit to spending some time everyday doing something to help you think about what Jesus did for us at Easter. You may like to read the bible for five minutes each day, or light a candle and pray, or even paint a picture about Easter.
There are lots of ways that you can prepare for Easter during Lent. So today, I challenge you to think about what you might do. The activity we are going to do – A Lenten Calendar- will be able to help you remember what you have decided to give up or do.
For older children
You will need: Blindfolds and obstacles around the room like tables and chairs
What to do: Divide the children into pairs. Get each pair to decide who will be blindfolded, and who will lead. (Note: this game can be repeated by getting the pairs to swap roles) Get the pairs to line up at one end of the room. Tell them the object of the game is for the person who is blindfolded to move around the room silently and letting their partner guide them.
They don’t need to go in a straight line as the point of the game is to build up trust in the pairs.
At the end of the game you might like to talk about what it was like, and then tie in how we need to trust and rely on God, even when we can’t see where God is leading us.
For younger children
Making it through the wilderness - a team blindfold game
You will need: blindfolds and obstacles
What to do: Get the children to line up, one behind the other. Get them all to put on blindfolds.
Tell them that once their blindfold is on, they cannot speak anymore. Get them to put their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The leader is at the front and doesn’t have a blindfold. Once everyone is ready, the leader will take the blindfolded children for a walk around the room, leading them around things, under things and over things as they wish.
The point of this game is the same as the older children’s version.
Cup Stack Game
This game can be played as an upfront game or everyone can participate, either at the same time or as a relay.
What you need:
What you do:
After the game is over, you can ask something like, "Was this an easy thing to do?" Some people might have found it easy, but for some it might have been hard to work so quickly. Ask, "Were you tempted to cheat by taking more than 1 cup at a time?". Say something like, "It's good that you didn't cheat! God doesn't want us to give in to temptation and cheat, even when things get hard!" We can remember how Jesus resisted temptation in the desert and we can try and do the same.
The Church of Scotland have put together some helpful resources to help your worship this week, unpacking each of the lectionary readings. You can find them here.
What you need:
Lollies (enough for the whole group)
A plate or serviette to put the lollies on
A bread roll and a rock
A map of the world or globe
Legos or duplo to make a tower
What you do:
After Jesus was baptised, he spent 40 days in the desert getting ready for the important work that God wanted him to do. During that time he didn't eat anything and so he was very, very hungry! The devil came to Jesus and said, "Why don't you turn these stones into bread? That way you can eat all you want! You don't need to be hungry." Jesus said, People don't live only on food!"
Then the devil showed Jesus all the countries in the world (show the map or globe). The devil said, "You can have all the countries in the whole world. You can rule all of them if you just worship me instead of worshipping God." But Jesus said, "No! We're only supposed to worship God!"
Then the devil brought Jesus to a tall tower (point to the duplo tower). "If you're really God's Son, throw yourself off this tower, and show me that you won't be hurt!" Jesus said that even though he knew that God's angels would catch him and keep him safe, we aren't supposed to test God like that. Jesus wouldn't do it.
You know, Jesus was tempted with all three of those things; food, power and showing how much God loved him by getting angels to keep him safe. But he didn't yield to those temptations. He knew that even though those things might feel good for a moment, the plan to help the world wasn't about turning stones into bread or jumping off towers or being a ruler over all the countries. Jesus knew that he needed to do something else to change the world and bring God's love and forgiveness to everyone.
Temptation Talk - Older Kids
For more detail around Jesus' time in the desert, read the passage in Matthew 4:1-11 together.
We often have this bible text at the beginning of lent. Who knows what lent is? What do we do in lent? Why?
So why do we have this bible reading? Has anyone ever tried to tempt you to turn stones in to bread?! No? Ever been tempted to throw yourself off a building to see if the angels will catch you? No? I’m glad!! What do you feel tempted to do sometimes?
So you might be wondering what was so hard about those temptations for Jesus. Very often with the bible we have to look a bit harder than just a quick read, to find how that passage is of use to us. Because I know the bible IS of use to us and everyone, but sometimes that can be difficult to get.
Where is the connection to Jesus’ temptation and ours? Well the tests that Jesus faced were very specific to him, just like temptation is different for us all. I’m not tempted to eat loads of lollies but I might be tempted to eat lots of chocolate! But what is the same is that the very basic or underlying temptation that we share with Jesus, is the temptation to treat God as less than God. To treat God as less than God. We might never be tempted to try turning stones into bread, but we are constantly tempted to mistrust God’s readiness to help us through the difficult things. We might not be tempted to test God by leaping off a cliff but we are often tempted question God’s helpfulness when things go wrong for us. It is hard to only serve God and not be influenced by wanting to do what our friends are doing or what the world thinks is cool. That is the real temptation that we all, you, me, your parents, your friends, vicars, bishops, all of us. Jesus held firm and never doubted that God is God and can always be relied on. We must try to do that too, especially when things are hard or life is tricky because we need him then more than ever!