To reflect on the fact that Jesus' first disciples were ordinary people, just like you and me.
by Gill Hartley
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To reflect on the fact that Jesus' first disciples were ordinary people ('regular guys'), just like you and me.
Preparation and materials
- Seven copies of the prayer in Time for reflection, each copy with a different line highlighted for each volunteer.
- Ask the youngest children present if they have ever watched Bob the Builder on television. Have they also watched Postman Pat?
Then ask all the children what sort of jobs some of the adults they know do. As you collect the answers, try to emphasize the more ordinary jobs, if possible.
- Ask the children if they know what jobs Jesus' first followers, his special friends, did? Answer: at least four were fishermen, and Matthew (also called Levi) was a tax collector. Mention Mary and Martha (sisters of Lazarus) who were also followers. You might need to explain that very few women had paid jobs in those days - they worked hard in the home bringing up children and cooking. There were no washing machines, supermarkets or take-aways.
Explain that when Jesus was alive many people earned their living by being fishermen - it was an ordinary job. Being a tax collector at that time meant that you worked for the Romans, so you weren't very popular. Lots of people would not have anything to do with tax collectors. Conclude by saying, so Jesus' friends were just ordinary people of their time.
- Read the story of how Peter and Andrew, James and John and Matthew joined the group of Jesus' special friends. Read Mark 1.16-20 and 2.13-14 in a children's version of the Bible (or the Good News Bible version, below).
As Jesus walked along the shore of Lake Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, catching fish with a net. Jesus said to them, 'Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.' At once they left their nets and went with him.
He went a little farther on and saw two other brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were in their boat getting their nets ready. As soon as Jesus saw them, he called them; they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and went with Jesus. …
Jesus went back again to the shore of Lake Galilee. A crowd came to him, and he started teaching them. As he walked along, he saw a tax collector, Levi son of Alphaeus, sitting in his office. Jesus said to him, 'Follow me.' Levi got up and followed him.
Emphasize the following:
The disciples dropped everything and went with Jesus straightaway.
Jesus must have been a very special kind of person to get such a response.
Although the first disciples were ordinary people, when Jesus spoke to them they were able to be brave and just get up and go.
- Remind the children that the disciples were not important people and some of them, such as Matthew, were even looked down on. Yet after Jesus had left them, his ordinary disciples did some extraordinary things. Tell the story of Peter and John curing a man who could not walk, just like Jesus had done when he was alive on earth.
Peter and John cure a man who could not walk
by Gill Hartley
(based on Acts 3.1-10)
It was three o'clock in the afternoon and Peter and John were on their way to the Temple. They drew near to the gate into the Temple courtyard which was called the Beautiful Gate. There, as usual, sat a man who had never been able to walk since the day he was born. He sat there every day begging from the people going into the Temple, asking for money for food. When he saw Peter and John coming, he asked them for money, but Peter said, 'We haven't got any silver or gold, but we'll give you what we do have.'
Both Peter and John fixed their eyes on the man and Peter said, 'In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk!' Then Peter grasped the man by his right hand and pulled him to his feet. Immediately the man's feet and ankles grew strong and he jumped up! He stood on his own two feet and then began to walk! He rushed into the Temple building clutching at Peter and John and all the time jumping up and down with excitement and thanking God that he could walk. Everyone noticed him - in fact, you couldn't miss him!
When they realized who he was - the man who had sat by the Beautiful Gate for all these years - everyone was amazed at what had happened to him and could hardly believe it.
- Remind the children that the disciples were ordinary people, and that ordinary people, like the disciples, like you and me, can do great things. Not only did Jesus' special friends do extraordinary things like curing the crippled man, they were also responsible for beginning the Christian church which today has many millions of members all over the world (approximately 4.5 million members in the UK alone).
- Read the words that Paul, who also helped to start the Christian church, wrote nearly two thousand years ago to one of the new churches he had started in Corinth:
'Remember when you were called, my friends, not many of you were wise or powerful or important from the human point of view.'
Ordinary people, like the disciples, like you and me, can do great things. What great things will you do?
Tell the children that Jesus once spoke about amazing things coming from small unimportant beginnings. He said: 'The mustard seed is smaller than any other seed, but when it is planted and it grows it becomes bigger than any garden plant; it becomes a tree, big enough for birds to come and settle in its branches' (Matthew 13.31-32).
From ordinary beginnings amazing things can happen.
Time for reflection
Ask for seven volunteers to help you say a paraphrase of the prayer of St Francis. Introduce the prayer with the words: Help me to plant your peace. Then ask each volunteer to say one of the following lines:
Where there is hatred, let me plant love.
Where there is hurt, let me plant forgiveness.
Where there is argument, let me plant friendship.
Where there is doubt, let me plant faith.
Where there is despair, let me plant hope.
Where there is sadness, let me plant joy.
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.
Conclude the prayer by saying:
Although we feel ordinary and perhaps not very important,
we can make a difference to the world around us.
'All over the world' (Come and Praise, 61)