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Related Bible reading(s): Matthew 13.31-33,44-52

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 – story with hidden meaning – today helps us to learn more about God’s kingdom: what it’s like, how much it’s worth and who it’s for. We can be thankful that we are invited to share in these secrets of God’s kingdom. Let us pray that we would value God’s kingdom in the way that this Bible passage asks us to.

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.

You could listen to this track to begin your time of worship together: Greatness of our God, Newsboys on United
 

God, your kingdom is like:
a mustard seed – full of possibilities;
yeast – it helps us to grow;
treasure – worth searching for;
a precious pearl –
worth giving everything up for;
a net – ready to gather us in.
Help us to discover these secrets.
Amen.

 

Read

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

 

Bible story

Open the Bible at Matthew 13.31-33,44-52: Jesus gives his followers five examples of what the kingdom of God is like.


The hidden parables

Print off the reading and cut it into the five sections, representing each of the five symbols of the kingdom. Put each part in an envelope and number them one to five in order, then hide them around your space. Encourage everyone to take part in a ‘treasure hunt’ to find them, open them and read the story in order.

Stu McLellan, stumclellan.co.uk

Here are some parables that Jesus told the crowd:


The parable of the mustard seed

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, sown in a field. It is the smallest of seeds but grows up into a huge bush, and the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.’


The parable of the leavened bread

‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman mixes with three lots of flour, until it is all leavened and ready to rise.’


The parable of the hidden treasure

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. Someone finds it, hides it again, and then is so very, very happy, he goes and sells everything he has to buy the field.’


The parable of the fine pearl

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who is looking for fine pearls. He finds one very special and valuable pearl, and goes and sells everything he has to buy it.’

The parable of the good and bad fish

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a net. The net is full of fish, of all shapes and sizes. It is pulled ashore. The good fish are put in baskets while the bad fish are thrown away. And it will be like this at the end of time when the angels will separate the good people from the bad.’

 

Glossary

leavened yeast is added to bread to help it rise;

merchant a trader.

 

Talk

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

 

Talk together with children

  • When you hear the word ‘kingdom’, what pictures come into your head?
  • Which of the five descriptions of God’s kingdom do you like the best and why?
  • What do you think won’t be in the kingdom of God?

 

Talk together with young people

  • Why do you think that Jesus uses so many images to describe the kingdom?
  • How would you describe God’s kingdom?
  • Is there a story in the news or from your community which is like the kingdom of God described in today’s passage? E.g. A school welcoming refugee families?

 

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

Growing with God   

Race to build the biggest tower

You will need: building blocks.

  • Divide the group into two teams and share out the building blocks evenly between them.
  • Explain to the group that the first example of the kingdom was a mustard seed, a tiny seed. In this race, the teams are going to build a tower to demonstrate that, like the mustard seed growing into a large tree, the tower has to start with the first brick.
  • In a relay race, encourage the teams to compete in building the tallest tower.

 

Create

Kingdom die     

Make a reminder of all the images of the kingdom

You will need: cube templates printed onto card, scissors, pens/pencils, glue.

  • Give each person a template and ask them to cut it out – you can pre-prepare for younger children.
  • Explain that like their cube, a die has six sides – then show the children these on their cubes.
  • Ask the children to decorate each of the sides with one of the five images of the kingdom: a mustard seed, yeast in bread, treasure in a field, a pearl and a fishing net. In the sixth space, they can draw a question mark.
  • Then invite the children to construct their die by adding glue to the tabs and sticking together.
  • When all the dice are complete, ask everyone to roll their own and see if they can remember what the meaning is behind each image. If it lands on the question mark, ask the child to say what they think the kingdom of God is like.

 

Think/reflect

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

 

The sacrifice needed            

Provide electronic devices for everyone to look at stories of ‘heroes’ of faith online or print copies for them. Ask the group to research one ‘hero’ and what they had to sacrifice. Remind them that in the passage, people had to sell everything they had to receive the kingdom richness. Ask: what might you need to give up in order to discover more about God’s kingdom?

 

Pray

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

Bubble prayers

Give everyone a pot of bubbles and encourage them to blow big bubbles. Praise God that the kingdom of heaven grows and grows.

God of the kingdom,
may we plant the seeds,
may we grow like the yeast,
may we seek your treasure,
may we prize your pearl,
may we come into the net
of your kingdom,
this week and every week.
Amen.

 

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

 

Sing and listen 

Kingdom of God
Faith as small as a mustard seed

In our lives plant seeds of hope (CH4 349)
The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed

To what can the kingdom of God be compared?
The treasure, Macapella

Waymaker, Michael W. Smith on Awaken: the surrounded experience
Cannons, Phil Wickham on Cannons

 

See also Same Boat @ HOME

 

Live your faith

Think about the news that the kingdom of God is for everyone. Who could you tell?

  

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

  • This reading is a selection of Jesus’ descriptions of what God’s kingdom is like; each one is a pictorial image. The first two images are of very small items: the mustard seed, showing that what flourishes from the seed is what is important; and the yeast, used to demonstrate again the way the kingdom starts small but has a mighty and wideranging effect.
  • The next two are examples of expense and worth, used not as a morality tale but instead as a teaching point, to direct the reader to consider the huge value of the kingdom in comparison with anything else life might offer.

  • And finally, the reader is left with the image of a net that scoops up everyone. It speaks of the separation of good from evil that will happen at the end of the age, and of the persistence of evil until then. It is not clear if the net signifies the whole world (therefore the separation is between those who accepted the message of Christ and those who did not), or if the net refers to the kingdom (a judgement of those who consider themselves members of the kingdom).

  • Both Old Testament readings express a longing to know God’s will. Jesus speaks of the kingdom, rule, or will of God being accessible to those who seek it. The kingdom of God is on offer to people of all genders, classes, cultures, ages and levels of faith; is this the message we proclaim in our church communities?
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