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Daniel 7.9-10,13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1.4b-8; John 18.33-37

Open the Word

Ways to help all ages engage with the readings

Adult & All Age

To help the listener

The reader could use these words to provide context to today's reading(s): Daniel 7.9-10,13-14, Revelation 1.4b-8, John 18.33-37

Daniel the visionary sees a trustworthy heavenly order behind the chaos that envelopes God’s people.

John the Elder sees the dependable ways of heaven revealed in Jesus, God’s faithful witness. In the Gospel, Jesus makes little impression on Pilate, who represents the powerful rule of Rome. But Jesus’ weakness reveals God’s true strength.

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Present the Old Testament

Daniel 7.9-10,13-14

TV interview in which a studio-based news presenter and an outside broadcast reporter discuss the situation in Jerusalem, and speak to Daniel about his prophecy of a messiah.

In this drama, the words of the Old Testament reading are included within the dialogue, so you could replace the reading with the drama.

GNN special report

Three actors are required: a studio presenter (Brian), an outside reporter (Geoff), and Daniel. It begins with the presenter sitting behind a desk in the studio, and the reporter standing as if waiting for someone to appear (or something to happen). Daniel is offstage and out of sight.

Presenter: Recent events in the royal court of Babylon have left many people baffled, and wondering what the so-called ‘writing on the wall’ incident means for the rule of co-regent King Belshazzar and his father, King Nabonidus. It has just emerged that further bizarre claims have been made by the royal favourite, Belteshazzar, the self-styled ‘Daniel’, of the migrant Jewish people. We go now to our special correspondent in Babylon, Geoff the Mede. Geoff – amazing scenes in Babylon.

Reporter: Yes, Brian. Word reached us of a further revelation early this morning from the so-called peoples’ prophet, Belteshazzar also known as ‘Daniel the Hebrew’. Initial reports spoke of there being thrones set in place, and of an Ancient One sitting on one of them.

Presenter: Yes, Geoff, and this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this Ancient One from the Hebrews, is it?

Reporter: That’s right, Brian. He’s regarded as God by the Hebrews. And he was described to me as having clothing as white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool.

Presenter: Are there any other details you can give us, Geoff?

Reporter: Not too much yet, Brian. Just that this Ancient One apparently sat on a fiery throne that had wheels, also of fire. Fire flowed out of his presence, by all accounts, although what that did for the furnishings we were not told.

Presenter: So, Geoff, what does this all mean?

Reporter: It’s not clear yet...wait, wait, here he is. (Daniel enters) Just emerging from behind the royal guard. (calls out to Daniel) Belteshazzar, mate! Belteshazzar, Geoff the Mede, GNN. Can we get a word with you?

Daniel: It’s Daniel these days, Geoff.

Reporter: Of course. So, ‘Daniel’…we’ve heard that the mysterious Ancient One has made another appearance. What exactly is he doing this time?

Daniel: Well, Geoff, he is sat there, with loads of people round him.

Reporter: Any idea how many?

Daniel: Well, some say ten thousand times ten thousand, but I just know it’s a lot. Anyway, he’s got his books open…

Reporter: Books?

Daniel: Yes, Geoff. He keeps records of all the deeds done by everyone, and he judges them.

Reporter: Really?

Daniel: Oh yes. Anyway, just as I thought it was ‘just another courtroom drama’, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven, and he was presented to the Ancient One.

Reporter: Well this is a first, isn’t it Daniel? Has there been a presentation to this Ancient One before?

Daniel: No, this guy’s new – special. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion…

Reporter: Everlasting?

Daniel: Yep, everlasting. And, Geoff, his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Reporter: So, when can we meet him? Is he inside? He sounds very important.

Daniel: Oh, he’s not here yet, Geoff. But he is coming.

Reporter: When?

Daniel: Best guess, towards the end of December. Probably the 25th.

Reporter: Well there you have it, Brian. The Jewish Messiah, this mysterious visitor, is on his way. Now back to you in the studio.

Presenter: Thanks, Geoff. You’re watching GNN, the Good News Network. Good night.

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Present the Gospel

John 18.33-37

Introduce the reading by showing the classic Two Ronnies ‘Mastermind’ sketch, in which the chosen subject is answering the question before last.

This sketch offers a humorous insight into the confusion possible when two people are speaking the same words, the same language, but the meaning behind, the intent, is different.

Alternatively, you could give some examples of how British English differs from American English which, when coupled with different customs and expectations, has the potential to confuse. British cricketing metaphors and those from American football might be a good place to begin!

Jesus is a king the like of which the world has never seen before. Pilate could not understand the model of kingship that Jesus was talking about. The two men used the same words, but it was as if they were speaking different languages.

Now read the Gospel passage.

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Children

Present the reading & Talk together

Open the Bible at John 18.33-37

 

Jesus is brought to Pontius Pilate, who asks him if he is the king of the Jews. Jesus says that his kingship is not from this world.

Choose from these two ways telling the story, followed by ideas for discussion time:

Question time

Split the children into two groups. One group represents Pilate and the other Jesus. Stand the groups at opposite ends of the room, facing each other. Read the story, and each time Pilate or Jesus asks a question, their group takes a stride forwards. Both groups should advance towards each other and finish in a confrontation.

Role play

Invite three confident readers to narrate the story, and play Pontius Pilate and Jesus. Give them each a copy of the script, allow them time to practise, and then ask them to present the story to the rest of the group.

Talk together  ( Connect faith with everyday life)

  • Why does Pilate seem so confused by Jesus’ answers and questions?
  • What do you think Jesus’ kingdom is like?
  • How can you speak up for the truth in your life?
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For very young children

For very young children

Play and wonder about Jesus, the true king

Play materials: different-textured fabrics, e.g. silk, hessian, cotton, satin, felt.

Gathering prayers

Young children love repetition. Using the same prayer to start your session each time you meet will create a sense of familiarity and expectation.

Suggestion 1: God loves me

From the top of my head
(Touch head)

to the tips of my toes;
(Touch toes)

from the lobes of my ears
(Touch ear lobes)

to the end of my nose;
(Touch nose)

from my back, to my front
(Turn round)

to my wiggly fingers,
(stretch out arms and wiggle fingers)

God loves me!
(jump up and down)

Suggestion 2: God loves...

Leader: God loves
Child 1: (say name)

Leader: and God loves
Child 2: (say name)

Go round the circle until all the children have been named (the leader or accompanying adult can say the name of pre-verbal or shy children)

All: Thanks be to God!

 

Storytelling

Lay out a red cloth and place figures and objects/pictures (see italics) on it as you tell the story.

Pilate said to Jesus,

(two figures)

‘Are you the King of the Jews?’

(crown)

Jesus replied, ‘You call me a king,

(crown of thorns)

but my kingdom is not in this world.

(Jesus on his heavenly throne)

Listen to me! I have come to the world to do one thing –

(globe)

to speak about the truth.’

(cross)

 

Play

Give the children two trays and a selection of objects, e.g. shells, sticks, stones, acrylic jewels, sandpaper, fabric pieces, glass pebbles. Invite them to create an earthly kingdom and a heavenly kingdom.

 

Create

Invite each child to colour and cut out pictures to symbolise Jesus, e.g. star, lamb, gate, vine leaf, cross, candle (template). Cut card strips (approx. 150cm x 15cm), cut a zig zag along one edge, decorate with the pictures, and staple to make crowns for Jesus the king.

 

Praise

Invite the children to listen to a song about Jesus’ teaching (suggestions below), and then join in singing and dancing.
Jesus put this song into our hearts, Graham Kendrick on Shout to the Lord
This Is My Commandment, Cedarmont Kids on Bible Songs

 

Pray

Invite the children to wear their crowns and stand in a circle holding hands.
Say together:

Welcome,
Jesus the king!
Help us to listen to you,
and join you in your kingdom.
Amen.

 

Sing

Who’s the king of the jungle?
King of Love, Doug Horley on Top 50 Awesome Action Songs (with actions)

 

Colouring sheets
English version
Welsh version

 

A sending out prayer

Young children love repetition. Using the same prayer to end your session each time you meet will create a sense of familiarity and expectation.

God bless you,
(Point to others)

and God bless me.
(Point to self)

Amen. (Wave arms)

Leader: Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Children and parents: In the name of Christ, Amen.

 

Additional activities

These activities are from this week's Explore & respond and can be adapted for Under 5s:

Kingdom cupcakes              15 mins E S

A symbol of Jesus’ earthly and heavenly kingship

You will need: ready-made cupcakes, icing and cake toppings, coloured paper strips, scissors, sticky tape, lolly sticks, string or PVA glue.

  • Give each child a cupcake to ice and decorate. 
  • Make cupcake wrappers in the shape of a crown. Cut out strips that are 2cm longer than the cupcake circumference and 4cm taller. Cut a zig zag edge so that the wrappers look like crowns. Place the crowns around the cakes and secure them with tape.
  • Give everyone two lolly sticks, one cut shorter than the other. Fix them together with string or glue to make a cross. Place a cross on the top of each cupcake. Take home to eat or share.

Heaven and earth               5 mins W S

Pray for earthly leaders

You will need: a toy crown, objects/pictures to represent Jesus’ kingship, e.g. manger, foot washing, crown of thorns, lamb, cross.

  • Display the crown. Talk with the children about who usually wears one. What does it represent? Some countries are not ruled by a king or queen, but a president, who may have similar or more power.
  • Look together at the symbols of Jesus’ kingship. How are these different from the crown? What does each one represent?
  • Invite everyone to choose a symbol and hold it, as they pray for kings, queens and leaders across the world, that they might be more like Jesus. Alternatively, say: Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth, be with all those who are in positions of leadership in our world. May they grow to be more like you. Amen.

 

Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles 

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