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Related Bible reading(s): Matthew 11.16-19,25-30

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.

Copyright

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

Jesus calls us in this passage to come to him and learn from him. Now more than ever we may feel the need to be self-sufficient and ‘keep going’. Take time as you worship together today to give over anxieties, concerns and ‘to-do’ lists to God and learn to rest in him. 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.

Father God,
we come to you to find rest today.
Help us to be ready to learn from you.
Amen.

 

Read

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

 

Bible story

Open the Bible at Matthew 11.16-19,25-30: Jesus reassures us that no matter how busy life is, if we ask him, he will share our burdens and give us rest.

Shopping

Explain that this story happens in a marketplace. Encourage everyone to help pack some shopping, e.g. fruit, vegetables, bread and tinned food into a large rucksack. Put on the rucksack and then read the story as you walk around the room. When Jesus asks the crowd to come to him, take off your rucksack. Finish by showing everyone a picture of a yoke and talking about what it was.

Geoff Hays, www.geoffrey-hays.co.uk

Jesus was speaking to the crowd. ‘What are you like? You are like children playing wedding and funeral games. You sit and watch and shout to each other, “We played the flute and you did not dance.” “We were sad and wept and you did not cry with us.”

‘John the Baptist came,’ Jesus said to them. ‘He did not go around eating too much or drinking. And what did people say? They said, “He has a demon in him!” Then I came along, eating and drinking and what did they say?

They said, “That man eats too much! He drinks too much! He is a friend of tax collectors and even sinners!’’ But God’s wisdom is proved by its results.’

Jesus started to pray, ‘Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You have hidden these things from the wise and the clever and revealed them to children. This is what you want. My Father has given me everything. Only he truly knows the Son. And only the Son truly knows the Father. But the Son wants to tell others about the Father too.’

He said to the crowd, ‘Come to me, anyone who is tired and carrying a heavy load, and I will give you rest.’ Then he looked at the people around him and said, ‘Take the yoke I give you and learn from me. I am gentle – my yoke is easy and the load I give you is not too heavy. You will find rest for your souls.’

 

Glossary

demon also described as an evil spirit; spiritual forces that trouble people – sometimes this might be interpreted as mental illness;

sinners people who are not living life as God intends;

yoke a curved piece of wood put across the neck of an animal pulling a plough or cart, and so a burden to be carried.

 

Talk

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

Talk together with children

  • The scene is set in a busy marketplace. Have you ever been somewhere really busy?
  • Think of a time when you have been really tired. How did it make you feel?
  • What did Jesus tell us to do with our troubles and worries?

 

Talk together with young people

  • What does this passage say about wisdom?
  • How does it feel, knowing that God offers to provide rest from our burdens?
  • What expectations do people have of Jesus in this passage?

 

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

Who said it?

Talk to everyone about the mention of ‘wisdom’ in the passage from Matthew’s Gospel. Discuss what they think of as wisdom, or who they think of as wise. Have a quiz to decide who said some ‘wise’ quotes. Print off the quotes and cut them up to separate the person from their quote, and ask everyone to match them into pairs.

 

Tied together

Work in pairs to imagine being ‘yoked’ together

You will need: lengths of ribbon or thick yarn, approx. 50cm; a variety of objects to pick up, e.g. a book, a piece of fruit.

  • Divide your group into pairs and tie the right wrist of one person to the left wrist of the other loosely using the ribbon or yarn.
  • Now they are tied together, ask them if they can wave together, clap together, write in the air, pick the objects up together.
  • Undo the ties and ask them what it was like being ‘yoked’ together. What was hard about it? What was fun?

 

 

Create

See it differently

Create a symbol of how Jesus reveals God’s wisdom

You will need: cardboard tubes, pens, stickers, card, scissors, sticky tape.

  • Give each child a cardboard tube to decorate using pens and stickers, and write the words ‘God’s wisdom’ on the outside.
  • Help everyone to measure and cut cross shapes from card, small enough to fit one on the end of each tube (you can pre-prepare for younger children). Each person can then fix their cross onto the tube using sticky tape.
  • Invite everyone to look through the other end of the cardboard tube and see the cross. Talk together about how what Jesus did revealed God’s wisdom to the world.

 

Think/reflect

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

 

Sharing the load

Watch together the video clip of the Brownlee brothers, where Alistair helps Jonny cross the finish line. Ask everyone if they can think of a time when someone helped them finish something particularly difficult.

The commentator – and even Jonny himself – wasn’t expecting Alistair to help Jonny finish the race in such an amazing way; he exceeded expectations! Ask: are there any examples you can think of where someone has done this for you, or when you think you might have done something unexpected?

 

Pray

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

 

I will give you rest

Invite everyone to pick up an object from within the room, e.g. a chair, or provide a selection of large stones, and carry it around the room as you slowly read Matthew 11.28-30. Explain that, as you finish reading, they can put down their burdens and then take some time to lie down on the floor, or sit and rest to reflect on Jesus’ promise of rest and help with our burdens.

You could play the following track while you share in this prayer activity: Learning to lean, Heritage singers on Still he speaks.

(A prayer for others) God the burden-bearer
we thank you for your promise of rest.
Today, we think of those
who are struggling at this time.
We particularly pray for…
and ask you to lift their burdens
and give them rest.
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.

He’s great! He’s God! Jesus Christ is Lord (CJP 79)

Father, lead me day by day
He’s Jesus, Vineyard worship

Come to me, Wild goose resource group (CH4 759)
Holy wisdom, lamp of learning, Ruth C. Duck

Who you say I am, Hillsong worship on There is more
God only knows (Timbaland remix), For king & country on God only knows
Written in the skies, Luke & Anna Hellebronth on Motions of mercy

See also Same Boat @ HOME

 

Live your faith

When you are worried, sad or just very busy this week, find a pebble or small stone and put it in a safe place. Remember that Jesus can share our worries.

  

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

  • John had a strange ascetic lifestyle and Jesus’ lifestyle involved having parties with ‘sinners’. Neither of them fitted the patterns of expectation of the coming king.
  • In this reading from Matthew’s Gospel, we also see Jesus mock those who are ‘wise’, as he suggests that their longing for wisdom blinds them to what God is really doing. It is in fact children, those who are vulnerable and humble, that are most likely to be in tune with God and can respond faithfully to him.
  • Jesus uses the metaphor of a yoke in the last few verses. A yoke can be a way of bearing a ‘burden’. It is also a way of connecting two animals as they are ‘yoked’ together. The image of sharing a yoke with Jesus suggests the idea of being paired with him, guided by him and him offering to help bear our burdens.
  • In this passage, Jesus surprises us and reminds us who he is and that when we have misplaced expectations, he will disrupt them. Perhaps a burden that the people were carrying was the missed expectations about the Messiah; we too may still need to reassess our expectations of who Jesus is and what he is able to do, to come to him and learn from him.
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This resource is taken from www.rootsontheweb.com and is copyright © 2002-2020 ROOTS for Churches.