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Related Bible reading(s): Matthew 13.24-30,36-43

Welcome to ROOTS at home for families

ROOTS is a partnership of denominations and other Christian organisations and has been publishing lectionary-based worship resources online and in print since 2002.

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You are welcome to copy this material for use in your own resources e.g. printed sheets or web pages including audio/video recordings. If you do so, please include this acknowledgement to ROOTS:
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd (www.rootsontheweb.com) 2002-2020.
Reproduced with permission.

Read our article ROOTS at home - support for nurturing faith at home (www.rootsontheweb.com/faithathome)

 

The world ablaze:
Prayers for difficult times

 

Introduction

Another parable – a story with a hidden meaning – which helps us to see that good and evil exist alongside one another in the world. This can be one of the big questions we have to grapple with: why do bad things happen?

Bring those questions to God as you worship together today.

See Bible notes for more information on the passages for today.

 

Gather

Use this prayer as you begin your time of worship together. Nominate a leader or all join in together.

God of wheat and weeds,
as we gather here today,
from this imperfect world,
help us to take time to
grow in your perfect love.
Amen.

You could learn this song to sing together as you begin your time of worship: A farmer in a field, Carolyn Winfrey Gillette

 

Read

Share the Bible story using the idea below to help you explore it together.

 

Bible story

Open the Bible at Matthew 13.24-30,36-43: Jesus tells a story to help us live in an imperfect world.

The ear of wheat

Print off the grains of wheat outlines on which the reading is subdivided (template), and carefully cut out each one. On a large piece of paper draw a stem on which the wheat grains will be stuck.

Invite different peeople to have one grain each and to read these in order. Then, in turn, they stick their grain to the stem, so that once the story has finished, the whole ear of wheat is complete.

Jesus told the crowd another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is a bit like someone planting his field with good seed. He is very happy, but at night, when everyone is sleeping, his enemy creeps in and plants weeds among the wheat, then sneaks off again. So when the wheat starts to grow, the weeds grow too!

‘The servants then go to their master and ask him, “Sir, didn’t you just plant good seed in your field? So where have all the weeds come from?” When the master tells them that an enemy has planted them, they ask, “So, shall we pull up the weeds?”

‘But the master replies, “No, because if you pull up the weeds, you might pull up the wheat as well. Let them both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will send in the reapers, and then the weeds can be collected up, tied into bundles and burned. The wheat can be harvested and put in my barn.”’

Later, Jesus explained the parable to his disciples: ‘Listen carefully. This is the story of my world. The master is the Son of Man, that’s me. My friends are like the good seed, and my enemies are like the weeds that the devil has planted. The harvest is like the end of time, and my angels are the reapers who separate the wheat from the weeds in the field – the good and the evil in the world. All the evil is thrown away, like weeds on a bonfire, but all the good will shine like the sun in God’s kingdom.’

 

Glossary

reapers people who cut down the wheat at harvest time;

Son of Man a title from the Old Testament Book of Daniel, used by Jesus to describe himself;

devil a personification of evil, also called Satan or ‘the evil one’.

 

Talk

Spend time reflecting on the Bible passage, using the questions below as appropriate.

 

Talk together with children

  • If you were the servants, what would you have wanted to do with the weeds?
  • Why do you think the master said what he did?
  • What people or things make life hard for you sometimes?

 

Talk together with young people

  • What is this parable about? What do the wheat and weeds represent in our world?
  • How does Jesus ask us to live in an imperfect world?
  • What challenges face those living as a Christian in our world today

 

Activities, songs and prayers

Choose from the activities below and do any or all of them in any order you wish. Some are designed for younger children and some for young people. However we hope using a mix will work for any ages in your household.

 

Play

Cocktail roulette: Pull out the weeds

You will need: a tray of compost, three cocktail sticks per child.

  • Colour the bottom of each stick in either red, yellow or green and then bury the coloured ends into the compost with the remainder of the sticks poking up.
  • Remind everyone that the weed in the story looks the same as the wheat until it is fully grown. In this game they will pull out the sticks, but they will only know the colour once they’ve pulled a stick out.
  • The game starts with everyone standing in a long line. In turn, ask each person to remove one stick from the tray. If they remove:
    • a red stick, they must take one step backwards;
    • a yellow stick, they must stand still;
    • a green stick they may take one step forward.

The winner is the person who has moved the furthest when all the sticks have been pulled out.

 

Create

Watery weeds

On a large sheet of paper draw a sheaf of wheat using a white crayon or candle. Provide watery green paint and brushes. Encourage everyone to paint pictures of weeds.

What can they see appearing among the weeds? 

 

Seed bombs  

Create a way to spread good seed

You will need: a cup full of flower seeds, a bucket, a yoghurt pot or small container, compost, flour, water, tray.

  • Make the seed bomb mixture using the instructions (below).
  • Invite each person to take a handful of mix and gently roll it in their hand to form a golf-ball sized ball.
  • Place the balls on a tray and allow them to dry for 24 hours.
  • When everyone gathers for the next session, invite them to take the ‘bombs’ to throw into an outdoor space that needs brightening up with ‘good seeds’.

Instructions for making seed bombs

You will need: a cup full of flower seeds, a bucket, a yoghurt pot or small container, compost, flour, water, tray.

  • Choose someone to empty the seeds into a bucket.
  • Work together to fill the empty yoghurt pot with compost three times and add it to the bucket. Stir to mix everything together.
  • Fill the empty yoghurt pot with flour and empty into another container. Add small amounts of water until you have a glue-like consistency.
  • Add the flour and water mixture to the compost and seed and mix it all together.

 

Think/reflect

Spend some quiet time reflecting on the passage, as well as what you have been doing in the activities you chose.

 

Emoji reading

Give everyone a piece of paper and a pen or ask people to open a new message on their phone. Ask them to listen to the reading and to illustrate the passage with emojis as the story unfolds.

Which emoji comes to mind when certain words are used? After the reading, allow everyone to look at each other’s versions of the story.

 

Pray

Finish your time of worship by praying together in any way you choose (there are more prayers on our Prayers page).

 

Seedling prayers

Together plant seeds into pots of soil and pray:

Lord, 
as these seeds grow, 
may we remember that you are always there, 
in everything we see and do. 
Amen.

 

A prayer of praise and thanksgiving

Response lineThank you that you are working in the world.

God of the kingdom,
for the times when we know
that you are close to us:
Thank you that you are working in the world.

For the times when it is harder
to see you at work…

For the times when the world
feels like a hurting, broken place…
Amen.

You may wish to use the additional resources below to worship together and/or the activity sheets for children.

 

Sing and listen

Preview songs on YouTube, buy online and download.

It’s a world of sunshine, a world of rain (to the tune ‘It’s a small world after all’)
He’s got the whole world in his hands

Perfectly OK, Fischy music
God who made the earth, the air

No one will ever be the same, Wild goose collective & Hinba on Enemy of apathy - Audio sample

God’s not done with you, Tauren Wells on God’s not done with you
This is the stuff, Francesca Battistelli on Hundred more years
Heal our land, Kari Jobe on The garden

See also Same Boat @ HOME

 

Live your faith

Think about the people you spend your time with and how you can make good choices in the way you behave with and relate to them.

  

Activity Sheets

(Links to the PDFs for these can also be found at the end of the page.)

Activity Sheet English

 

Colouring Sheet English

 

Activity Sheet Welsh

 

Colouring Sheet Welsh

     

 

Notes on the Bible story for parents and carers

  • Jesus tells a parable about a field of wheat that is sown with weeds. Darnel is a weed that looks much like the wheat of the area at that time.
  • In the parable, the servants ask their master if they should pull up the weeds, but the master says the two should grow together. Until both are fully grown it is hard to identify the weeds from the wheat. The root of the darnel is also much longer than that of the wheat, so pulling up the weeds while the healthy crop was growing could cause damage to the wheat crop.

  • These passages all have something to say about the power of God and God’s action in the world. But they also all testify to the ongoing presence of evil and suffering. Jesus preaches that the kingdom is near, and Paul says that believers are now children of God, but both describe situations where the kingdom of God coexists with other incompatible elements that still cause ‘stumbling’.

  • The master’s response in the passage is helpful, as it reassures the reader that he knows what is going on and has a solution to bring about a healthy and full harvest.

  • It is a fact of our existence that good exists alongside evil and ongoing temptations, until the end of time. But this reading reminds us that we are not in charge, and that we are called to live together with all the imperfections of the world.
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