Posted by Peter Cranch

At Messy Church this year we’re looking at some of Jesus’ teaching about The Kingdom of Heaven, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. This month we began with Matthew 4:17–25. Jesus bursts onto the scene announcing, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” The calling of the fishermen shows us what repentance looks like (v18–22). The next section, v23–25, shows us what kind of king Jesus is; a good, compassionate, powerful, evil-squashing one. People from all sorts of places followed him.

Here are some of the activities we did.

Mini Aquarium

To tie in with the fishermen/fishers of men. Just add stones, weed and a plastic fish to a jam jar. And water, of course!

Stick People

Add pipe-cleaner arms, clothes and goggly eyes to turn sticks into a crowd of people following Jesus.

Turning Tops

Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” We made tops to remind the children that repentance means turning around. We bought wooden disks and the children drilled holes in the centre and cut a pencil to the right length to make a spinner. We used junior hacksaws (not too sharp) and hand drills. Pencils need a 7mm hole.

Crowns

Jesus is a new king, so we made crowns.

Fish Biscuits

We used a simple recipe so the children could mix, roll and cut out biscuits. We used a heart-shaped cutter and adapted them to make a fish shape.

Light and Shadows

Jesus’ coming fulfilled the words of Isaiah: ““Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:15–16)

We hung up an old, white shower curtain and set up a floodlight behind it. We cut out silhouettes (people, animals, dragons, lightning bolts, etc.) which the children could use to act out shadow stories. We also had a range of fancy dress hats and wigs so they could make funny shadows of themselves.

Hula Hoop Fishing

We fastened netting across hula hoops (not the crisps!) to make fishing nets. The children used them to fish balloons out of a ‘pool’.