This week at home for families
Resources for worshipping together at home
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Open the Bible at John 11.1-45: Jesus brings Lazarus back to life.
Pass the parcel
Prepare your parcel. Inside: from the centre should be Lazarus wrapped in a white cloth, a stone, Mary, Martha, Thomas and Jesus (use play figures or small images). Pass the parcel round the group. Pause at each * in the text below, and invite the person holding the parcel to unwrap a layer to reveal what is inside. Place the pieces in the centre of the circle to make a visual focus.
Geoff Hays www.geoffrey-hays.co.uk
Lazarus lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. One day, Lazarus became ill. Although Jesus * was their good friend, and he received a message to say that Lazarus was very ill, he delayed visiting, and stayed where he was. The last time he had been to Judea, people had tried to stone him!
After two days, Jesus said, ‘Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him.’ His disciples were confused. ‘Why go to such a dangerous place just to wake him up? He’ll wake up without you.’ So Jesus spelt it out. ‘Lazarus is dead. I didn’t go when he was ill, because through him, many will see God’s glory.’ Hearing this, Thomas * said to the others, ‘Let’s follow him. If he’s going to be stoned, we should die with him.’
Lazarus’ sister Martha * came out to meet Jesus. She said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Jesus said, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ‘I know,’ answered Martha, ‘at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live and never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ said Martha, ‘I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
Then Martha’s sister Mary * ran out to meet Jesus. She knelt at his feet crying, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ Jesus wept with Mary. He asked, ‘Where is his tomb?’ A crowd of mourners followed Jesus to the cave where Lazarus’ body had been laid. Lazarus had been dead for four days, but Jesus asked for the stone * to be rolled away.
Jesus prayed aloud, so the crowd would hear him and know that God had sent him. Then he shouted into the cave, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ Incredibly, Lazarus walked out of the tomb, wrapped in burial cloths. *
Jesus said, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.’ And many people who saw this believed in Jesus.
resurrection the belief that, on Judgement Day/at the end of the world, God will restore life to those who have died.
Talk together with children
- How were Martha and Mary feeling because Jesus hadn’t come to be with them?
- Have you ever felt let down by a friend?
- What might help us to know that Jesus is with us even when we feel sad
Talk together with young people
- How might Martha and Mary have been feeling towards Jesus when he finally arrived?
- Why didn’t Jesus rush to Bethany?
- When have you felt let down by Jesus or doubted his presence with you?
Notes on the Bible story for parents and carers
Jesus was teaching when he had news of his friend Lazarus’ illness. Instead of rushing to be by his side, Jesus stayed where he was for two more days before making the journey to Bethany. When he arrived, Lazarus was already dead.
Jesus’ humanity is shown in this story. He is anxious about whether he should travel to Bethany. He is worried about his own and his disciples’ safety. He is deeply moved by the sisters’ disappointment, anger and grief. And he is touched by the presence of those from the village who console them.
As well as losing their brother, Lazarus’ death would have added significance for Martha and Mary. He was the source of income and status for the family. They were losing their reputation and status in society as well as their closest relative. They were losing their hope.
This passage can be read as a parable by those who want to know where Jesus is when life falls apart. It suggests that he is present even in his absence. We can imagine him carrying his concern for the Bethany family from the moment he hears about his dear friend’s illness. Jesus’ faith carries him through the dangers of the journey to Bethany and into the place of loss and death, where he brings life even from the tomb through the resurrection power of his word. How often do we struggle to see Jesus’ presence when things go wrong?
More activities, songs and prayers
Print off one create_water template per person. Cut out one teardrop, one smiley face (both on page one of template) and one Jesus is always with us circle (page two of template) for each person. Invite everyone to decorate their teardrop and smiley-face shapes and then stick one of each to each side of their Jesus is always with us circle.
On your own
Imagine how the characters in the story felt
Using the space you have, find an area you can use as the ‘tomb’ where one person can be on their own for a few moments, e.g. under a table, behind a door.
Invite everyone to take turns to pretend to be Lazarus in the tomb, with Mary, Martha and Jesus outside weeping.
Then call, ‘Lazarus, come out’, and ask the person pretending to be Lazarus to come out from the ‘tomb’.
Talk about how it felt for one person to be on their own. Are there times when we feel like this? Discuss how Jesus is with us in situations like that.
Where is Jesus?
A visual reminder that Jesus is always with us
You will need: a flower shape (template), one per person, pens.
Talk about some of the things that happen to make them feel sad or frightened, e.g. being ill, getting left out at school.
Invite everyone to write or draw these things on separate petals of their flower. Encourage them to decorate the flower petals.
Talk about Jesus coming to see his friends in this story. They felt sad and frightened but he showed that he is always there. Ask everyone to add the word ‘Jesus’ to the circle at the centre of their flower.
Allow everyone to choose a stone as a physical reminder that God is our rock, our ever-present help in times of trouble. Invite everyone to paint their rock and keep it as a reminder that God is there with us, present when things go wrong. They could even keep it in their pocket or school bag to touch when they feel let down, and need to know God is there with them.
Play some meditative worship music - suggestions below. Invite everyone to hold onto their stone from Rock reminders, and pray that God might show them how to be his presence for others.
Sing and listen
Lord I need you
I am not alone
Your presence is heaven
(You could curl up in a ball, as you listen to the reflective music suggestions above.)
May the God of hope, Doug Horley on Lovely jubbly
Standing on the promises, Yancy on Adventures on Promise island VBS
Oceans (where feet may fail), Hillsong united on Zion
When the tears fall, Tim Hughes on When silence falls
Meditative worship music
War in the time of peace, Wolves at the gate on Types & shadows
Scars, I am they on Trial & triumph
Move (keep walkin’), TobyMac on This is not a test
See also Same Boat @ HOME
Live your faith
When something small goes wrong this week, e.g. you drop something breakable, use it as an opportunity to remember that Jesus is always with us.
Click on the image to view a larger version.
Geoff Hays www.geoffrey-hays.co.uk