Moving On - Starting the Year with Elijah and Elisha
To use the story of Elijah being taken up to heaven to think about the start of a new school year
by Ronni Lamont
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the Old Testament story of Elijah being taken up to heaven (2 Kings 1). To use the story to think about the start of a new school year.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a large cloak as a prop, such as a clerical cloak - most vicars have one of these, but be aware that it may be dragged along the floor by being worn by a small child. Alternatively use a blanket or large coat.
- It helps to have a 'river'- e.g. a blue mat.
- Begin by picking out two of the older children to play Elijah and Elisha. Teach the rest of the children their line.
In response to:
And all the prophets said
all the children reply as a chorus:
Did you know your master is leaving us today?
The child playing Elisha replies each time:
Yes, but let's not talk about it.
Rehearse this with the chorus and Elisha a couple of times.
The story is told by you, the narrator, using the children as much as possible. As you tell the story of the journey, take Elijah (wearing the cloak) and Elisha on a walk around the assembly room.
- Introduce the story as one from the Old Testament, one that has been told for thousands of years. Explain that Elijah was a very special man. He was a prophet, and that meant he could hear what God was saying, and his job was to tell the people what God said. Elijah had a friend, Elisha, who was learning how to be a prophet.
One day Elijah knew that it was to be his last day on earth. God told him to go to a special place, and to leave Elisha behind. But when Elijah told Elisha he couldn't come with him, Elisha protested and said that he was going to come anyway! So they set off.
They came to a river, where they met another group of prophets. (Stop by a group of children and treat them as the prophets.) And all the prophets said: (cue in) Did you know your master is leaving us today?
And Elisha replied: (cue Elisha) Yes, but let's not talk about it.
So they travelled on a bit further.
This pattern repeats as you travel around the room - meet groups of prophets several times, each time going through the same routine: And all the prophets said: (cue in) Did you know your master is leaving us today? And Elisha replied: (cue Elisha) Yes, but let's not talk about it.
When you arrive back at the river, explain that they actually spent the whole day going round in one big circle. Once again, Elijah told Elisha to stay there, and once again, Elisha insisted on accompanying Elijah.
So there they were at the river. Ask the children how they think Elijah and Elisha are going to get across - and hint that it involves the cloak.
After a few suggestions, demonstrate what Elijah did in the story. He took the cloak, rolled it up into a sausage, and whacked the water with it. (Whack the water as you say the word - it's great fun!) And what do you think happened to the water? Yes, it parted, some upstream, more downstream, and they went across and didn't get wet.
Elijah and Elisha now found themselves in a very strange place - the Bible calls it a 'holy place'. While they were there, Elisha asked how he might inherit Elijah's powers, and Elijah told him that he had to watch him leaving.
As he was saying this, there was a rushing sound, and a chariot, pulled by horses, flew down from heaven, and the Bible tells us that the chariot and the horses were made of fire. Then there was a huge wind, a hurricane, which caught Elijah, and he was carried off, up into heaven!
Poor Elisha. He was so sad, he cried, and he tore his coat in half down the middle - which is what they did in those times to show how upset they were. Then he picked up Elijah's cloak, which had fallen on the ground, and put it on. He walked back to the river.
What do you think he did when he got there? (You might let a child do it this time.) He whacked the water! And what happened? Yes, just as before, the water split in two, and across he walked.
He was seen by the prophets, who were silent. Elijah had gone. Elisha had put on his cloak, and was the new prophet in Israel. But he was very, very sad to say goodbye to Elijah.
- Explain that although we're not prophets (although someone here might be - who knows!) we're like Elisha in some ways. The old school year is over and a new one has begun. There are new Year 6 children - they've put on the 'cloak' of being the oldest children. In fact, everyone here is a new 'something', because we're all in new years and at the start of a new year. How does your new cloak fit?
Time for reflection
Ask the children to think about when they had to say goodbye to someone that they cared about. If they have never done this, perhaps think about how it might feel.
It's fine to feel sad. (Let's quietly share that feeling with God.)
Let's think about the new school year - we've all become new 'somethings'. What will you do with your new opportunities?
Thank you, God, for all the people that we love and care about.
Be with all people who are sad today.
Let them know how much you love them.
Help us to be kind and loving to people who are sad.
Thank you for the new school year and new opportunities.
Please be with everyone who is starting a new school.
'Travel on' (Come and Praise, 42).