30 July 2023
Bible readings for today
Liturgical Colour: GREEN
God of mercy,
you have blessed us beyond our dreams;
you have set before us promises and perils
beyond our understanding;
help us to struggle and pray
that the perils may be averted
and your promises fulfilled.
Hear this prayer for your love’s sake.
E te Atua atawhai, kua manaakitia mātou e koe i tua atu i ō mātou moemoeā; kua whakatakotohia mai e koe ngā oati me ngā mate i tua atu i ō mātou mōhiotanga; āwhinatia mai mātou ki te whawhai me te īnoi hoki kia parea atu ngā mate kia tutuki ai ō oati. Whakarongo ki tēnei īnoi i runga i tōu aroha.
The Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:31-33,44-52)
What is the Kingdom of Heaven like? In today's reading, Jesus gives four stories of what the Kingdom of God is like: a mustard seed, yeast, treasure in a field, and a net full of fish.
In Matthew 13 Jesus talks about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.He uses many different images and there does not seem to be a clear answer.
Doodle through the Bible
A colourful doodle of today's Bible passage, from Doodle through the Bible.
You an download a full colour and Colouring Page
Intergenerational material and ideas compiled by Rev Amanda Nicholas for Intergen.au
You will need:
What you do:There are a few different ideas on how to play games using the treasure props
The Kingdom of God: How do we understand Jesus when he talks about it, especially when he does so through stories which may be open to so many interpretations? Bishop Kelvin (former bishop of Dunedin Diocese), Rev Peg Riley and Jonathan join Rev Michael Godfrey, and they have a few surprises for us as they approach some familiar parables in perhaps unfamiliar ways!
And some wonderful 'Gospel Conversations extra!" A bonus 3 minutes that bring some reflections of mustard, yeast and the kingdom of God. This week, for example, Bishop Kelvin gives us a wonderful way of understanding the yeast in the dough towards the end of the 3 minutes, so if that interests you, have a listen!
You can either print out the hand out attached for each child, and play individually, in groups, or set up 2 large battleship grids on the floor of your room! Depending on the age of your children, you might like to discern the best way to play this game. You could always have individual sheets printed out as a take home activity too, giving children 2 copies each.
The idea in battleships is to find the opponents ships and sink them. Each team gets to decide where their ships go.
We have replaced the ships in this game with treasure to find! Each treasure is a slightly different size, so the hardest treasure to find will be the mustard seed.
How to play treasure battleships
Prayer, inspired by Matthew 13:31-33
Dear Lord God
we thank you for mustard seed
and for the wonders of yeast
and for how these things teach us about your love.
Lord, plant your seed into our lives,
help us work your yeast into our hearts
that wonderful things may happen.
We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
~ written by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild, and posted on Kir-shalom.
A Lego animation by a children's church in the US
A talk on YouTube about the kingdom of heaven being like a mustard seed
Treasure in a field animation from Max 7
Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 29:15-28)
The Old Testament reading today is about how Jacob is looking for a wife, and falls in love with Rachel. While her father, Laban, is compliant with this request, he makes Jacob work for 7 years for her hand in marriage. On the night of the wedding, Laban tricks Jacob and sends Leah to sleep with him. All we know about Leah is she older and has 'weak eyes' - don't we all, Leah. Jacob is outraged, but honours his marital week with Leah and then also gets to marry Rachel after another 7 years of work.
Sharing hard stories
Sharing hard stories like this one can feel like a minefield in children's ministry! Where do you start! It can be tempting to look at the bible characters in this story and connect this to some moral outcome or behaviour modification, but a bigger question would be where is God in this story?
Leaving out difficult content to make it age appropriate is not diluting the story, it's being careful and considerate of the children you have in your care. We also need to not glamourise and make people 'heroes' when they actually weren't. "Laban was just fulfilling God's promises and it all worked out ok" vs Laban deceived Jacob, and God used the situation regardless of the lies and manipulation he held over Jacob.
God keeps his promises
This story focusses on the broader topic of 'keeping your promise', and brings into light the idea of integrity and staying true to your word.
Jacob loved Rachel so much that he worked humbly and diligently for another 7 years for Laban, although he realised that he could no longer trust his father in law - the only thing that Jacob could trust in was God.
There are some helpful animated videos of this story, that help unpack it in a child friendly way!