Monday, August 17, 2009

from John 6: Jesus walks on the water

This is part of the same story John 6:16-24

Given that the people around Jesus were fishermen, we assume they knew that boats float but the scriptures tell us Jesus walked on the water. Mosquitoes and skimmers walk on the water. People don't. Activity: So you have water insect activities or floating activities you could use but the point is that people don't walk on water. Jesus did.

I taught swimming for a few years including water babies and preschool when there was only one book out there. Activity: A lot of kids are afraid of the water. What can you do with that?

Activity: How big was this lake? Like an Upstate NY Finger Lake? Like a Great Lake? Like the Ocean? What sounds and sights and smells would you experience in the evening in Israel by the water? I've not been there but I've been near the water in the evening.

Activity: You could act it out.

So here's the story: the people try to take Jesus by force and he withdraws to the mountain by himself. His helpers get in a boat and start off towards a town on the other side of the water but the wind starts to blow. The waters get rough. Smell the water? Feel the wind? It's evening, probably starting to get dark and cool. If I ever rowed 3 or 3 1/2 miles, it was 20-30 years ago. How about you? Ever row or ride in a row boat? A BIG row boat? Activity: Ever think of telling Bible stories that happen by the water when you visit a lake or the ocean?

So after a day full of 5000 people, they're rowing rowing rowing, they're almost 4 miles from land, it's getting dark, the air is cool, the water is rough and they see Jesus walking towards them ON TOP of the water. In an era that still believed in miracles and the supernatural, they were terrified. When were you that afraid?

Jesus says, "It's me!" Ok. "It is I! Don't be afraid." After He says that (not before) they pull him into the boat "and immediately the boat reaches the shore where they're heading." Jesus was close enough to the other side that he could have just kept walking all the way across but He got into the boat. Interesting.

Activity: Let the kids color and cut or draw the boat, the water, the helpers, Jesus so he can walk on the water. Activity: Use toys and pretend. Activity: Create an assemblage or a diorama that the kids can play with or leave it in the foyer or on the way to the sanctuary for people to see and play with as they're coming in. Yes, water and sand are a little messy but that's ok. Do it outside. Do it on a tile or linoleum floor. Do it in the kitchen. Let the kids tell the story as they stand by their creation. Do it with real water and use cork on Jesus feet so he floats. That's cheating but it a movable interactive visual for the story.

The next day people from the day before are gathered to meet Jesus and the 12 on the far shore and they realize that there is only one boat and they never saw Jesus get into that boat on the other side. They only saw His helpers get into that boat. The people were following Jesus. Now they are looking for Jesus. He was no longer in the last place they saw Him. They don't have cars. Apparently, they came in boats to the place they saw Jesus the day before but Jesus and his helpers weren't there. So they go by boat to the other side of the lake instead of walking around the lake looking. Activity: If it took one boat to hold Jesus' disciples and there were 5000 people, imagine all the boats sailing across from Tiberius to Capernaum? What other boats might be on the water? Can you find the place on a map? What did the boats look like? What made them go? Make sail boats and blow them across a kid's pool filled with water.

You can find lots to do with a Bible story to make it more alive to kids. It doesn't have to involve pencil and paper. A pencil/ paper activity is something a child can take home to show a parent that you did something tangeable in class but such projects inevitably end up in the trash or in a box in attic. What will they take home that no one can take away from them? Something that won't end up in a trash can?

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