Change text size: A A A Change contrast: Normal Dark Light
1 Kings 3.5-12; Psalm 119.129-136; Romans 8.26-39; Matthew 13.31-33,44-52

Explore and respond

Adult & All Age

Explore and respond

A sequence of active worship ideas; individual items can stand alone.

Ideas for a sermon or interactive talk

See also Thought for the week to read out in place of a sermon; and 'The week in focus', linking the readings to the news.

  • The summer of 2022 will be remembered for its heatwaves. Was it a sign of things to come? Many are anxious about changing climate patterns, and the possible impact on the life of this planet. It’s easy to look ahead with fear. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus recognises this, telling his hearers not to worry (6:25). Easier said than done, we might think! This week’s parables suggest reasons why Jesus says this. The context of our life is the kingdom of heaven, inaugurated by Jesus, to be fulfilled in God’s good time. Look for signs of the kingdom in the detail of our life – planting seeds, baking bread – and trust that God is working for good, as surely as seeds grow and yeast makes bread rise.

  • Isaac Newton forbade the South Sea Bubble to be mentioned in his presence. The eminent scientist invested his fortune in this enterprise and lost the lot. More recently, some cryptocurrency investors have faced similar challenges. Would it be better to keep our wealth under the mattress? We know that life involves taking risks, and it’s likely that we can all remember costly mistakes we’ve made. Jesus invites us to take the risk of putting our trust in him and his promise of the kingdom of heaven, present and yet to come.

  • The 2001 film Amélie is about a shy waitress in Paris who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better while dealing with her own loneliness. It begins when, startled by the news of the death of Princess Diana, Amélie drops a plastic perfume-stopper. It accidentally dislodges a wall tile and reveals an old metal box of childhood memorabilia and treasures, hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. Amélie resolves to track down the boy and return the box to him. She promises herself that if it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others. The film is about all the discoveries she makes in the adventure of loving others and letting them love her. In her adventure she uncovers what those around her treasure. The film is perhaps a contemporary parable of the contagious love of the reign of God.

  • Read RS Thomas’ poem, ‘The Bright Field’. If you can, you might also like to project a photograph of light falling on a field. This poem is a reflection on what it might mean to slow down enough to: see God’s reign breaking through today; live fully in the abundance of the present moment; to let go of time travelling to the past or future.

 

 

 

 

Thought for the week

Read out in place of a sermon if you wish

At the time of Jesus, Pliny the Elder wrote that mustard seeds, with their pungent, fiery taste, were valued for being good for the health – and that they spread like a weed. Once sown, it was difficult to stop them, because the seeds germinated almost at once. What a wonderful image of Jesus planting the tiny seeds of the reign of God, tipping them into the world like a contagious weed.

We might ponder what sort of contagious seeds Jesus was planting. Each story Jesus told, and each story told about Jesus, gives us an image of one of these seeds germinating in the soil and spreading God’s reign. Take the story of Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus. This blind man very persistently wanted to be healed. He trusted Jesus. Jesus stopped to make space to talk to him and healed him. Imagine, in time, all the other seeds that would gradually have been germinated out of this fresh start for Bartimaeus.

RS Thomas, in his poem The Bright Field, gives us a meditation on what it means to be slowed down enough, attentive enough to recognise the pearl of great price right beside us, the treasure in the field right here – to know what is most important and precious in our lives.

Read the poem.

His insight into the reign of God is that we are often too busy in our minds hankering after an imagined past or worrying about a receding future. Instead, if we can trustfully arrive in this present moment, in not too much of a hurry, with not too much on our to do list, we can recognise the precious treasure of God’s reign already offering itself to us.

The insight from the merchant that sold everything to possess the pearl of great price is that we have to let go of a lot of unnecessary baggage, outworn attitudes, lesser priorities to recognise and enjoy the immense value of God’s kingdom, already here in front of our noses. The reign of God becomes visible when people find what is most precious and important and live out of that truth. Such joy and love are contagious and healing.

 

All age act of worship Session

Active worship

Sow it begins

Meditate on the parable of the mustard weed

You will need: a large mustard plant painted onto a sheet of paper (e.g. a piece of wallpaper), or a prayer tree made from branches in a large pot of sand.

  • Display the image or draw attention to the prayer tree. Read Matthew 21:31-32. Invite people to close their eyes and imagine the tiniest of mustard seeds sitting in the palm of their hand. This seed is blown by the wind, landing in earth. There is warmth. There is rain. The seed starts to breaks open. It grows…and grows…until it is huge…and flowering…and shedding thousands more seeds into the wind. It is relentless and unstoppable.
  • After a few moments to let people follow their imaginations, explain that Jesus gave this as an image of God’s reign of love. Tiny seeds of love germinating all over the place, relentless and unstoppable. What we must do is wait and trust. Open your eyes to see. Keep one eye on the mustard plant (image or prayer tree) as we explore God’s unstoppable kingdom today; we will come back to it shortly.
    W E S

 

Crafting creatures

Make leaves for the mustard tree or prayer tree (see Sow it begins above)

You will need: leaf shapes, crayons and/or other craft materials, glue sticks or sticky tape.

  • Invite people to go outside for about 10 minutes, and to look around carefully, noticing different birds or insects, trees and plants, people, buildings or spaces – whatever is there to be seen. And, as they do so, to be aware also of themselves looking.
  • After people return to their places, remind them that everything they saw, including themself, has its place as a treasure in God’s kingdom. Invite them to create an image on a leaf shape to represent something they saw outside. Fix this to the tree image or prayer tree as a sign of thanking God for what is represented on the leaf.
    W E S A

 

A poem, a picture and a parable

A reflection on hidden treasure and priceless pearls.

You will need: copies of the poem, ‘The Bright Field’ by RS Thomas.

  • Display the image of a figure contemplating a pearl (see Share the Word). Ask someone to read the poem. Ask someone else to read Matthew 21:44-45.
  • Give people time to let the poem, the image and the parables speak to them of God’s kingdom or reign.

These questions may help: How does waiting and trust come into this? What for you is the hidden treasure in the field or the pearl of great price? What price do you need, or would be willing, to pay?

  • Invite everyone to share their thoughts with another person, and to make another leaf for the tree (see Crafting creatures).
    W E S A

 

Leaven the lump

Make bread as you reflect on Jesus’ parable.

You will need: mixing bowl(s), jug(s), spoon(s), baking tray(s), plus bread-making ingredients (at its simplest, bread mix and water).

  • You could organise this as a demonstration from the front, with perhaps several young people to assist; or you could set up several stations where appropriately sized groups can work together.
  • Ask someone to read Matthew 21:32. Then mix the ingredients and make bread as per the instructions you are using. Let them rise for the rest of the time you are together. Invite people to reflect on this process and, given Jesus’ use of it as an example of God’s kingdom, what it tells you about how God works in your community.
  • At the end, take the dough home and freeze it; then bake it just in time to bring it back next week. Again, this might be done by one person, or, if in groups, each could be responsible for its own loaf. Or, if you have the facilities, it could all be brought back next week for baking.
    W E S A

 

 

Activity sheet

 

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

Children & Youth

Explore and respond

Activities marked with an asterisk  next to the activity title are in addition to the resources in the Ready to go sessions. Suggested timings for these activities are also shown. NB The inclusion of additional activities varies from week to week.

 

 VERY YOUNG CHILDREN

Very young childrens Session

Picture hunt

Play and explore waiting and trusting

Set up a treasure hunt around your space with picture clues relating to the Bible story, along with a prize to share.

 

Precious parables

Make a symbol of heaven

Use play dough to create precious pearls and jewels.
Talk about what heaven might be like as you do so.

 

Very young childrens Session

 

FOR CHILDREN

Childrens Session
Very young childrens Session

Treasure chests E S

Create a reminder of Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure

You will need: basic card or wooden treasure box forms (or empty shoeboxes), assorted materials to decorate with.

  • Provide a treasure box for the children to paint and decorate as they wish, sticking on sequins and gems, for instance. If you prefer, you could work together to create a large cardboard box treasure chest for display.
  • Talk about the precious things you can keep in your chests, and the treasures in God’s kingdom.

 

Childrens Session

Yeast balloon experiment E S

See how God’s kingdom is like yeast

You will need: balloon, yeast sachet, plastic bottle, balloon, 1tsp sugar, warm water.

  • Demonstrate the experiment: Inflate and deflate the balloon a few times to soften it. Part-fill the bottle with about 1-inch warm water. Add the sachet of yeast and stir. Add the sugar and stir again, explaining that this is the food for the yeast to get to work. Stretch the deflated balloon over the neck of the bottle and place the bottle in a warm place.
  • Wait to see the balloon begin to inflate. Look back together at the parable and ask what this shows about God’s kingdom.

 

 

Sing

Preview song(s), then buy online and download. 

Find more suggestions on the Hymns, songs & music page.

  This little light of mine

 

0-5s

King of Love, Doug Horley on Duggie Dug Dug's Top 50 Awesome Action Songs CD


5-11s

Waiting Here For You, Kid’s Praise! Company, Maranatha! Music
You give rest to the weary


12+

Trust and obey, Hillsong Kids on Follow you
Give me joy in my heart

 

Childrens Session

Talk together and talk to God

Use these questions to discuss the Bible passage and then bring your thoughts together by praying to God.

Talk together

  • What makes something precious?
  • Where do you see God’s kingdom growing in the world?
  • How might we take God’s kingdom into the world with us?

 

Talk to God: Precious prayers W S A

Consider the treasure in God’s kingdom

You will need: coloured paper, gem shapes, pens, treasure chest.

  • Set out the treasure chest in front of the children and distribute the paper gem shapes and pens.
  • Invite the children to think about the ‘treasures’ of God’s kingdom that they see or that we are waiting for. Discuss further as appropriate, helping the children to think of real-life examples, such as a loved one being healed, people coming to know Jesus, kindness being shown in surprising places, a community being cared for.
  • When they are ready, ask the children to write something down on the gem before adding it to the treasure chest. You can pray together about these things, as appropriate.

 

 

Very young childrens Session
Childrens Session

Activity sheet

 

Sort it 10 mins E S

Explore the idea of God’s kingdom being like a fishing net

You will need: age-appropriate objects to sort, e.g. different shapes or coloured counters, beads; tweezers, coins.

  • Sort and categorise the objects. Volunteers take turns to sort the given objects into the right containers against the clock, or all work together to sort the objects.
  • Consider how this parable from Matthew 13:47-48 makes individuals feel.
    Ask: Why is waiting and trusting important for Christians?

 

FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Young people Session

Faster slower 5 mins W A

Think about activities taking time

You will need: six A4 sheets with images of activities on them.

  • Have sheets depicting different activities, e.g. blinking, take a bus to town, wash your hands. Lay these face down for people to select. Show one activity and ask the group to guess if the next activity will be slower or faster. Then ask someone to select a different sheet to show the group. Anyone who was wrong is out. Mix the sheets and play again.

 

Time and trust  10 minsW S

Think about trust over time

You will need: flipchart or whiteboard (or similar), suitable pens.

  • Talk together about how we mark time. Draw up a list to include ‘minutes’, ‘hours’, ‘days’, ‘weeks’, ‘months’, and ‘years’. Discuss the time taken in each of the parables, asking the young people to choose which time frame best applies to each story: growing a tree takes years, raising dough takes hours, buying a field takes days.
  • Ask: How do these stories help us trust God even if prayers don’t seem to be answered quickly? How does it help us understand God’s view of time?

 

Acrostic prayer  15 minsW E

Reflect on trusting in God’s time

You will need: folded A5 card with T R U S T written inside, pens.

  •  Play the track ‘While I Wait’, Lincoln Brewster on God Of The impossible.
  • Invite everyone to design a cover for the card around the theme of ‘trust’. In the middle of the card write five simple sentence prayers about these things, each beginning with the letters T R U S T.

 

Check-inConnecting faith with everyday, real-life issues

Available by 10 am on Thursday 27 July 2023.

 

Waiting wins 10 mins E S

Experience waiting

You will need: a deck of cards, a large bag of small sweets.

  • Deal a card face up in front of each player.
  • When the top card from the deck is turned, if it is a different colour from theirs, players should shout ‘ME’. The first person to shout ‘ME’ gets a sweet and leaves the game. Turn the next card; the person who shouts ‘ME’ gets two sweets and leaves. The number of sweets increases with each turned card.
  • Play two or three times. Ask: When benefit is there from waiting?

 

 

Spiritual styles abbreviations
W Word E Emotion S Symbol A Action
Read our Spiritual Styles articles
See less
General information and website help
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
86 Tavistock Place
WC1H 9RT
Registered Charity No. 1097466
Subscription services
020 3887 8916
Roots for Churches Ltd
Unit 12, Branbridges Industrial Estate,
East Peckham TN12 5HF
Stay in touch
The ROOTS ecumenical partnership
Bringing together Churches and other Christian organisations since 2002
© Copyright 2002-2024, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 2040-4832 and 2635-280X; Online ISSN: 2635-2818.
This resource is taken from www.rootsontheweb.com and is copyright © 2002-2024 ROOTS for Churches.