Last night's [email protected] was on the theme of "Welcome!". We have been working through a series on Parables of Jesus, and took a slight detour due to recent events in the news. The promotional image was meant to be somewhat ambiguous in terms of who is being welcomed and who is needing welcome.
We had several newcomers so it was good express welcome!
The program was as follows:
1. Arrival Activity
We played the episode "Cats and Dogs" from the Aardman series "Creature Comforts" - the video is about dogs and cats being critical of each other.
2. Welcome and theme introduction
3. Video clip - Greetings from around the world
4. Song - "Faith, Hope and Love"
I had a game planned but then forgot about it! The idea was to hand out four different coloured cards and get people to interact, then after a while swap cards with someone else.
6. Prayers of Thanks
We asked people to close their eyes and to see the faces of people who welcome them
- who welcomes you home?
- who welcomes you at school or work?
- who has welcomed you from another culture or language?
They were invited to offer silent prayers of thanks.
7. Video "Jesus and the Children" - from the "Holy Moly" series
8. Reflection questions
- What did you see happening in the story?
- Who were the different groups of people?
- Why do you think the colours of the people were changing?
9. Bible Story
Matthew 19:12-14 as retold by Ralph Milton in the the Family Story Bible (also in one of his Lectionary Story Bibles)
10. Spoken reflection
Jesus welcomes the children and shows us that this is what God does - God welcomes the least, the lost and the last. To be a people who live out God’s love is to show welcome to children, and to any others who are forgotten, neglected or rejected.
We might think that we live in a society that cares deeply for children. Yet we can easily think of children living in poverty, children in remote communities with satisfactory health or education, refugee children, children whose parents are in prison. Children whose families don’t speak English. Children whose families are homeless. Children who struggle with disabilities.
Welcoming is both an attitude and an action. I wonder who in our street, or our school, or our work, or our neighbourhood, or beyond our shores, needs welcome?
11. Video - Farida speaking about coming to Australia as a refugee
We allowed about 35 minutes - people could do whichever activities they wished
- Puppet Play - make up a puppet play showing the difference between being unwelcoming and being welcoming
- Story Tent - two storybooks for parents to read to small children - a contemporary version of the Bible story by Andrew McDonough, "Jesus and the Children", and "John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat"
- Autorap - an opportunity to make up a rap about welcoming using the fantastic little app "Autorap"by Smule. I highly recommend it. Available for iOS and Android.
- A Welcome Gift - we had a bunch of art and craft materials and people were invited to make a welcome gift to give to someone outside their family
- Long Journey - an interactive website for children to track the journeys of refugee children. Made by the ABC. Laptop computer, Belkin hub and three sets of headphones
13. Prayers for others
We gathered in the church and lit floating candles to pray for children seeking welcome, safety and comfort.
The video of "Amazing Grace" by Gurrumul and Paul Kelly was looping in the background on a laptop. This was pretty special.
14. Song - "Thank you God, for Everything"
May our hearts be open to others
May our hands bring greeting to others
May our words offer comfort to others
May our homes be welcoming to others
May our thoughts be gracious to others
May our lives mirror for others
the constant love of God