We had planned to be meeting for Messy Church this week, so here you will find some ideas for how you can have your own Messy Church at home, borrowed and adapted from a session written by the national Messy Church team. We've tried to keep the crafts to things you can find around the house, and found some fun videos for the story and songs, so hopefully you'll have everything you need. You'll find the activities at the end, as a response to the story, but feel free to use the material as you wish.
Time feels like it's gone a bit wonky lately, but believe it or not, its less than two weeks since we celebrated Easter. I wonder how many of you still have any chocolate left...
Our story for this Messy Church happens just after the first Easter. Jesus has died and come back to life, but not everyone knows it yet, so some of his friends have a surprise in store. You can read this story in the Bible in Luke 24:13-35, or you can watch this video to find out what happens. You'll find some questions and a prayer afterwards.
Why do you think the friends didn’t recognise Jesus on the road?
I think perhaps they didn't recognise him because they didn't expect to see him, and often we don't see things that we're not looking for. That's why I think it is good for us to always be looking for Jesus, for the peace and love and joy that are signs of his presence, even when we are sad or scared, like his friends were as they left Jerusalem.
What was it that made them realise who he was?
They recognised him as they ate with him, and I think that maybe that was because he was doing something really familiar. Jesus loved eating with his friends, and the gospels tell lots of stories of him eating with all sorts of different people. He knew that sharing food could be a really special way of being together, and that's one of the reasons we like to eat together at Messy Church.
How do you think they felt when they realised that Jesus had been walking with them?
I think they probably felt a little bit annoyed that they hadn't realised sooner, but mostly really happy to know that he was still with them, even in the sad and scary times. Things are sad and scary for lots of people at the moment, so this is a really important story, that reminds us that Jesus is still with us too.
If you could ask sit with Jesus and ask him one question, what would it be?
It could be something really serious or really silly, whatever you like. And we may not be able to sit with Jesus like his friends in the story did, but we can still ask him questions when we pray, and I think he loves it when we do. Perhaps you might like to take some time to sit quietly and ask your question, and wait to see if Jesus gives you a thought or a feeling to answer it. He answers in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways - I once got an answer in a poem at an improvised theatre event - so keep paying attention!
Thank you that Jesus walks with us even when things are sad and scary, and even when we don't recognise him at the time. Help us to look for him, and for the peace and love and joy he wants to bring us. Amen.
And now we have a couple of songs you might like to join in with at home. Our regular Messy Churchers will definitely know 'If I Were A Butterfly', and it was especially requested by our littlest regular, but 'Peace Like a River' may be new. I hope it will help as a reminder that we can still look for peace and love and joy in difficult times.
Our activities for today are inspired by the story, and may give you a chance to talk more about it as you work.
Activity #1: Footprints The characters in the story may have been walking along a dusty road, leaving footprints as they went, so why not try making some footprints of your own? You might like to get really messy by painting your feet and walking across some paper, or keep things a little neater by drawing around your feet and decorating the prints with wahtever colours and collage material you can lay your hands on. Or perhaps try making some footprint in miniature by cutting some little feet out of card, and walking them through paint. As you create, you might like to think about where the characters footprints took them after the story ended.
Activity #2 Board game Jesus' friends start out on a physical journey, and find themselves on a journey of discovery, so grab some paper and pens and design your own board game based around a journey. Where do the players need to get to? What surprises do they find along the way? As you design and play, you might like to talk about your own journeys, and what you have learned about Jesus along the way.
Activity #3 Quick change Everything changed for Jesus' friends when they realised who he was. Suddenly they knew that he was alive and all they had believed about him was true, and now they had a new job to do in telling everyone else. Try creating a similarly dramatic reaction by mixing 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup washing up liquid in a large bottle, then adding 2 tablespoons of baking powder. (You may recognise this as the classic volcano experiment - it can get messy, so you way want to head outside.) Afterwards, you might like to share a time in your life when everything changed or you saw things differently.
Activity #4 Slow-fast races Time may be a bit wonky for us at the moment, and it probably was for Jesus' friends too, as they were really sad then really excited. The challenge here is to see who can go from one side of the room or garden to the other the most slowly, then see who can be fastest to get back again. Once you've got your breath back, you might like to talk about how the way you feel changes how you experience things, making time go fast or slow.
We would normally end by saying a prayer then heading out to the hall to eat together. You may be about to eat your dinner together as a family, so you may like to use the Messy Grace. I'm not sure we've used it together yet, but perhaps we could all practice the actions for next time we meet.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hold out your hands as if expecting a present)
And the love of God (Put your hands on your heart)
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (Hold hands)
Be with us all now and for ever. Amen (Raise hands on the word ‘Amen’ and shout loudly!)