The Lost Sheep
Everyone is precious to God, with a link to problem-solving
by Sue Allen
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To teach that everyone is precious to God, with a link to problem-solving (with an implicit theme also that science and Christianity belong together).
Preparation and materials
- You will need three balloons, ready to blow up.
- A jam jar, a jug of water, a bowl to catch drips, a piece of card big enough to cover the top of the jar (a section of a drink carton is ideal), a cloth to wipe up splashes.
- Four cards showing the words 'Why' / 'did it' / 'do that?' / 'did he'.
- Pictures/acetates of a single sheep, and of a flock (optional).
- Begin with two experiments. For the first one, ask for three volunteers. Blow up three balloons and ask them each to hold a blown-up balloon. At a signal, they let them go, so that the air rushes out and the balloons go everywhere. Give the volunteers the cards, so that they show: Why / did it / do that?
It's a difficult question - but there is an explanation: the air rushing out one way pushes the balloon the opposite way.
Ask the volunteers to remain at the front, but not displaying the cards.
- For the second experiment, carefully fill the jam jar to the brim with water. Slide the card over the top, making sure that no air is trapped between the card and the jar.
Upend the jar, and with a suitable commentary (do I dare, etc.) remove your hand from the card (over the bowl, just in case!). The card should hold the water in the jar.
(Note: This experiment can go wrong! The slightest gap between the card and the jar will allow air in and break the seal, and the water will pour out. We advise some practice beforehand!)
Ask the volunteers to display the cards: Why / did it / do that?
The answer is, because the air is pressing up from below. Air is pressing all around us all the time, even though we don't notice it. Remove the card and let the water out, just to show that you weren't cheating.
The volunteers remain at the front, but not displaying cards.
- Jesus often told stories with a hidden meaning, a meaning that teaches us something important about God. Read or tell the parable of the lost sheep, using Matthew 18.12-14 or Luke 15.4-7, or from e.g. the Lion Children's Bible, p. 200. Show the pictures of sheep, if you have them.
- Ask the volunteers to display the cards again, this time exchanging the middle card, so that the question is: Why / did he /do that?
The answer is, because he cares about the sheep. Every one is special.
Time for reflection
What was the hidden meaning of that story? What was Jesus saying about God? We are all very special to God. He wants us to know he cares for us, just as much as that shepherd cared for his sheep.
If I lose something that doesn't matter to me -
an old leaflet, a broken pencil, a toy I don't play with any more,
if I lose something that doesn't matter to me -
it doesn't bother me much at all.
If I lose something that does matter to me -
some money, my lunch, my favourite toy,
if I lose something that does matter to me -
I search and search and don't stop until I find it,
or until I know it's really lost.
Jesus said that God looks for me like that:
searching high and low
never letting go
making sure I know
that I'm so very, very special.
Gordon and Ronni Lamont
End with a brief prayer, thanking God that he loves each of us so much, and that everyone is special to him.
'The Lord's my shepherd' (Come and Praise, 56)