Kids can see through moral tales, and, chameleon-like, will quickly align themselves to respond as they think will please you. I try to tell stories so that they will listen, experience and respond without automatic “Jesus” answers.
Storytellers often begin their story sessions with the lighting of a candle—entry into another place and time. Listen with us, be transported and inspired.
God, I sure wish you were here …
Scripture reference: Philippians 4:6-7
Today I’m going to tell you about a little girl. Josie was her middle name. Now Josie was a worrier. She worried about all kinds of things: if her shoes were on the right feet; if she was going to have a birthday party; if she could find her way home after school; she sometimes even worried if her big sister had divided up the cookies at the tea party so it would be fair!
BUT, Josie’s biggest worry was storms at bedtime.
If she was brushing her teeth and putting on her pj’s to get ready for bed, and the sky was cloudy and angry-looking, Josie would zip over to the window, toothbrush still in her mouth, to see what the sky was doing. And into her stomach came something that went flip-flop with every thunder-banger.
Josie would quick, quick, dive into her bed and say her prayers with one ear listening to the thunder and rain, and with her eyes squeezed tight. Then she’d pull up the bedsheets as far they would go, and she’d crawl into her bed as far as she could go! And with every flash of lightning flip-flop went her stomach! She couldn’t even think about her baby brother who might be anxious, too! Josie would say to herself: “I don’t want to be scared; I don’t want to be scared.”
One stormy summer night Josie brushed her teeth, dived into bed and said her prayers and curled up into an anxious little ball under the covers, while the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed. “I sure wish Mommy were here,” she whispered softly. “Mommy, I want you to be here.”
The thunder crashed. The rain poured down. Then Josie, deep under the covers, felt the bed creak as though ….. she pulled down the bedsheet and peeked into the darkness.
There was Mommy, not saying a word, just sitting quietly at the foot of her bed, keeping company, while lightning fingers poked at the sky.
But – how could Mommy have known? After all, she’d only whispered very softly, “Mommy, I want you to be here.” And Josie’s stomach stopped flip-flopping; and she wrapped her arms around her raggedy bear and went to sleep. And when she woke up the storm was over!
The little girl grew up, and became a woman; and there was a different kind of storm; she became very sick. And when she was so very sick and lying in her bed, anxious about her family and her life; God was there even though she hadn’t called for Him out loud.
And her kept her company during the sickness storm, so that she could go to sleep and wake up to a new day.
Paul, the great Apostle, l knew what he was talking about. Paul had plenty of experience with pain; he knew about the fear that makes us unable to put everything into the care of the Lord, unwilling to accept totally that God is the captain. Indeed, fear robs the joy and meaning of life.
So what then? …. how can we be released from care? Ah, yes, the everlasting promise of peace if we take all to the Lord in prayer. “It no longer storms in my heart, even though all the burdens aren’t all gone.”
In the storms of life: The Lord speaks; the storm at life; the storms of life, of deep anxiety.
As a mother stills her child…
Listen to Stand By Me by David Lennard
A Story about a King, a Wedding Dinner, and Yeses and Nos
Scripture reference: Matthew 22:1-14This is a story about a king, a wedding dinner, and yeses and nos.
Once upon a time there was a king whose beloved son was going to be married. Ahhh …. a wedding! This made the king very happy. “I’ll have a delicious wedding dinner for my son – and invite the rulers of the cities to come and rejoice with me!”
So the king’s kitchen servants bustled about, slaughtering and roasting a whole ox and several especially fat calves, and preparing all kinds of marvellous foods. Fine white coats were hung in the hallway – one for each guest to put on. The king’s messenger servants ran from house to house with invitations for the important rulers of the cities in the kingdom. “Please honour my son; come eat at my table and share in my joy.”
One by one, the servants returned, to tell the king: “My lord, he does not wish to come”; “My lord, he says he has fieldwork to do”; “My lord, he does not want to come”; “My lord, he says he’s too busy!”
What!? not want to come? Did all those important people the king had invited not think it was a special honour to share in the king’s happiness? Didn’t they even appreciate the invitation?
The king was a patient king. Once more, he sent out his servants. “Tell them,” he said, “about the huge dishes full of good food that my servants are preparing, just for them” “Perhaps,” he thought, “they’ll come now.” They didn’t. They didn’t care about the invitation. They weren’t interested in sharing the king’s joy. Some of them even grabbed and killed the messenger servants who had been sent by the king to repeat the invitation.
The king was no longer patient. He was angry. Those murderers!! How dare they first say they didn’t want to come to this very special day, and then kill his faithful servants!! And so the king sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their cities.
But …. There was the king’s feast, delicious and ready to serve…. But TO WHOM? “I am determined to find others who can share in my joy,” said the king, and once more servants were sent out to with the same invitation. BUT not to the privileged and important people. THIS TIME the invitation was for anyone at all – rich and poor, proud and meek, good and bad.
The white wedding coats still hung in the hallway, ready for the guests, and the king’s table was filled with fine food.
And these guests all came – eagerly, hesitantly, carefully, fearfully, – one by one – into the king’s palace, until at last the hall was full.
“Have we really been invited to sit in the presence of the king? To share in his joy? To eat with him? “ And all those who had come put on one of the fine white coats, ate at the king’s table, and shared in his joy.
This story has been told many, many times since Jesus told it first of all. Jesus, the great Teacher, told this story to the important rulers of the Jews because they thought they could say “no” to Jesus, and they thought it wouldn’t matter.
BUT IT DOES!.
Listen to two great versions of “Come and Go With Me to My Father’s House”:
You Lack One Thing
Scripture reference: Mark 10:13-31
[You will need to have available a set of child’s “water wings”]
Can you tell me what I have in my hand? [Water wings]
What are they for?
When your mom or dad think you’re ready to learn to swim, off you go, maybe to the beach or to a big swimming pool. You wriggle into your swimsuit, and if you have water wings, you slip them on next—and then—a big person shows you how to do all kinds of things that help you get ready for real swimming: blowing bubbles, ducking your head under the water and counting your teacher’s fingers, floating, pretending you’re a jellyfish or a frog, and kicking your legs…
And, for a while, your water wings are so important—so is holding on to your teacher’s hand. Soon, you can do so many things in the water—PERHAPS!—you’re ready to swim!!
But—you won’t know for sure that you’re really ready until you take off your water wings and let go of your teacher’s hand and dive in! You just have to let go!
A rich young man came to see Jesus. He thought he was ready to follow Jesus. He was sure he was ready to follow him. “Teacher,” he said, “I’ve done everything I need to do! I’ve been a good person since I was a boy; I never say bad words, I love my neighbours; I don’t steal; I love my mom and my dad; I never cheat; and I’ve never killed anybody. Now, how do I get into heaven?”
Jesus looked at the young man, and he looked right into his heart. “Are you really ready?” he asked. “Good, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
The young man looked at Jesus. What? – Give away his money, the most important thing he owned? SELL EVERYTHING? Oh, no! He needed his money; he couldn’t let go of his riches – not yet!! He wasn’t really ready to let go, after all. And so he went away sadly and did not follow Jesus.
Note: in the context of the times, the young ruler had, in fact, done everything that was required of him (by Sanhedrin law) to enter heaven and achieve eternal life. He felt, somehow, that it wasn’t enough, and felt the need to take another step – but even after Jesus spoke to him, could not release the most important thing in his life. (In his case, it was wealth) to let go completely and follow Jesus. Even the disciples who, too, had been brought up in that culture and tradition were amazed that this good man who had done it all since he was a boy, had not yet “qualified” for eternal reward.
Watch International Media Ministries’ mini-video of ” The Rich Young Ruler.”
And… a 3.5 minute modern-day look at what could have happened after the rich young ruler left Jesus’ presence.
Belief Beyond Barriers
Scripture reference: Mark 5:25-34
When I was a little girl, the Queen of England came to visit the people of Canada. She travelled from place to place, from city to city in this big land. One day the news came that the Queen planned to visit a beautiful park not far from where my family lived. What a marvellous chance to see her! So off we went, my sisters and I, to catch a glimpse of the Queen of England! There were so many people in the park, crowding close together, all hoping to come a little closer to the place where the Queen was going to be. At last, there she was, but so far away!!! She was sitting on a platform higher than our heads, surrounded by important people, all dressed up! A thick rope fence was stretched around the platform where she sat, so that no none could come near. Special guards said over and over: “Please stay back… please stay back…” The Queen was so far away, and so small, I could barely see her smile.
When Jesus was doing his Father’s work on earth, he walked with his helpers from place to place, from city to city in the land of Palestine. And many time, large crowds of people followed. “Jesus is coming to our village! Come… let’s go and listen to him! Hurry!” the people would say to one another. And they’d pack a lunch – if they remembered – and hurry to follow Jesus. The healthy people went to listen, and the sick people went mostly because they knew that Jesus could make them well.
On one of those days, there was a particular woman in the crowd. She was by herself, just like always; most of her neighbors wouldn’t even visit her because of her sickness. For twelve years the doctors had tried to cure her, but not one could help. BUT… here was this Jesus, and hadn’t he cured the man with the evil spirit? She’d ask Jesus to heal her too!!
Oh dear, what a crowd! Everybody wanted to be first – pushing and shoving …! She’d never be able to talk to Jesus in this mob. But… Jesus could make her well: she was SURE of it! … What if she could come just a little closer, and touch his clothes. That would be enough. Yes…., she would just touch him!
Through the crowd she squirmed… and squeezed… and pushed. There he was! She stretched out her thin arm and touched Jesus’ dusty robe. In that instant she knew that her sickness was gone!
Jesus knew it, too, in that same instant. He stopped. He turned. “Who touched my clothes?” he asked. What a question, thought the disciples. Everybody was touching him, pushing and shoving and calling his name. It could be anyone… But Jesus knew it was someone special.
And the woman knelt at Jesus’ feet and said, “I touched your robe because I believed that you could make me better.” And Jesus said to her, “Because you believed, your sickness is gone. Go home, and be happy and well…”
Maybe we can’t reach out and grab Jesus’ robe to get his attention, but when we really believe, we can reach him with our prayers and that puts us right in front of him, face to face…
Listen to the gospel version of ” Touch the Hem of His garment” by Sam Cooke & the Gospel Stirrers.
Peter denies his Lord
Scripture reference: Mark 14:53-54, 66-72
First I’d like you to help sing a song, and then I’m going to tell you about Peter and his light.
Who knows a song that starts with the words “This little light…”? Can you help me sing it?
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
It was very dark and it was very late at night in the city of Jerusalem. But no-one was asleep at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. They were waiting … waiting … There he came, our Jesus, tied up between two soldiers. That’s who they were waiting for – Jesus! “AT LAST,” said the rulers of the Pharisees. “Now we’ve got him! Now we can get rid of him!” And they rubbed their hands together, and they took Jesus upstairs. Then they spit on Jesus and blindfolded Jesus and hit him.
Where were Jesus’ disciples? Didn’t Peter say he would always, always stay with Jesus, no matter what? Maybe they all ran away when the soldiers tied up Jesus in the garden….
But, wait, there was Peter, hiding in the yard. Peter ran away , all right, but he came back because he loved Jesus. Peter followed the solders, all the way to the house of the high priest. Peter could see Jesus upstairs. But Peter was so afraid. He didn’t want anyone to know he was one of Jesus’ helpers! What if they caught him, too, and tied him up just like Jesus, and spit on him, and hit him? Peter was so scared that he hid his love for Jesus, and he kept his love for Jesus a secret. Peter hid his light three times in a row.
There was a fire burning in the yard, and the night was cold, so Peter went to warm his hands by the fire. A servant girl looked at Peter’s face and said,
“Weren’t you with that man Jesus?”
Peter’s heart pounded. He was terrified. “No, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the first time.
A little later, another servant girl said, “I’m sure this man is one of Jesus’ disciples.” Again Peter lied. “NO I don’t know him.” And Peter’s light flickered for the second time.
Once more, one of the men looked at Peter’s face and said, “You must be one of Jesus’ disciples. You talk just like one of them. And… didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” That’s when Peter’s face became pale and Peter began to curse and swear again:”I DON”T KNOW what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the third time that night.
Then Peter looked up. He saw Jesus looking at him very sadly, and Peter ran away into the darkness, crying, because he had lied about the Jesus he loved so much.
Listen to Denise Hewitt’s version of “This Little Light of Mine.”
If you’re partial to Odetta’s rendition…
Judas Betrays Jesus
I need a helper today. [Choose a child and ask …. What’s your name?]
Now I need one more helper who doesn’t mind wearing this on their eyes. (Choose a second child and ask … What’s your name?]) Come and sit down here beside me. [Tie blindfold on the second child].
Today we’re going to talk about choosing. And I’ve brought some things along for ______ and _____ to use. Let me show them to you first.
With the first child:
[Hold up items: a banana: big, yellow and another banana: black, mushy, and rotten]
Now: It’s your turn. Look carefully. Can you choose one that you’d like to share with your family? [the child will generally choose the appropriate response] That was a good choice!
[Hold up items again: an orange: big, heavy and another orange, somewhat wrinkled, small]
With the second child:
Now, It’s your turn. [Check to make sure the blindfold is still on, and don’t have the child touch the fruit]
Are you ready to choose one you’d like to share with your family? —– hmmm —- wait —- this looks hard! How can you choose like this? Oh, oh, what shall we do? [some child will respond – She/he can’t see!]. O.K. let’s take off the blindfold. Now you can make a good choice, can’t you!
Thank you for helping, ___ and ___
Jesus had helpers, too. One of them was called Judas. At first Judas loved Jesus and wanted to be near him. That was a good choice.
But then Satan came along—just like a big blindfold—and covered up Judas’ eyes and his heart. And Judas let Satan stay there and didn’t push Satan away.
Soon, Judas stopped loving Jesus. He chose a very evil thing. He went to visit some bad men who wanted to kill Jesus and said “I choose to help you catch Jesus. What will you give me if I help you?” The bad men said, “We will give you some money” and so Judas chose the worst thing of all: he took the money and put it in his pocket – to help them kill Jesus.
Now you may keep your good choices—off you go to church school.