Living a Life of Faith, Energised by Love
The followers of Jesus were travelling to different places to share the news that Jesus had died on the cross but come alive again. He went back to his Father but 10 days later, the Holy Spirit came in his place - he is like ‘God with us all the time’.
One day an angel told Philip, one of the followers, to go south down the desert road from Jerusalem to Egypt. That’s what he did. As he was walking, he heard the loud sound of a chariot coming up behind him. The passenger inside the chariot was obviously a rich man. Philip was to discover this man was a Jew whose job was to manage the finances of the Queen of the Ethiopians. He’d been to worship in the temple in Jerusalem.
You will need: large, medium and small boxes (one box for each person); glue sticks; masking tape; rope; coloured pens; crayons; PVA glue; paper plates; crepe paper or coloured paper
Use the box to design, build and decorate a chariot - with wheels, a place to sit or stand, a rope to pull the chariot. (Check the internet for ideas.) When the chariots are complete, run chariot races, giving handicaps if necessary.
Talk about how comfortable it is to ride in a bus, car, train, tractor etc. What would it be like to ride in a chariot? How easy is it to read in a bus, tractor, chariot etc?
The Holy Spirit told Philip to run alongside the chariot. (He must have been a good runner.) He saw that the man was reading a scroll. Then he heard him reading from the Old Testament part of the Bible. It was the message the prophet Isaiah wrote about Jesus, long before Jesus was born. Philip shouted to the man, “Do you understand what you are reading about?”
Stick strips of lollipop-height paper together. Glue the sticks to the ends of the strip. You could dampen the paper with a teabag to ‘age’ it. Write on to the scroll these words: Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, who gives his life for the sheep.” Or draw and decorate a cross.
The man from Ethiopia was reading about sheep in the book of Isaiah.
Philip took a deep breath and began to explain. The prophet Isaiah was writing about the Messiah, the one who would come to rescue God’s people. In fact, he was writing about Jesus. Jesus had died, or we might say, ‘given his life’ to take the blame for everyone who has ever lived. We have all ignored God. But because Jesus died, God forgives anyone who asks to be forgiven.
The Ethiopian listened very carefully as Philip told him all about Jesus. He had never really understood this. It was all news to him.
The internet has plenty of ideas for making an authentic Ethiopian dish.
The basic food in many parts of Ethiopia is injera, which is like a spongey flat pancake. You could make a spicy lentil dish and pile it on top of pitta bread and eat it with your fingers!
Talk about what you know about Ethiopia and find out more. (Ethiopian coffee is excellent!) You could look up on a map where the road runs from Jerusalem to Gaza and then onto Ethiopia.
As the chariot travelled on, the Ethiopian man saw a pool of water by the side of the road. He turned to Philip and said, “Nothing is going to stop me being a follower of Jesus. Stop the chariot! I want to be baptised to show that I belong to Jesus.”
Philip and the man jumped down from the chariot and stepped into the pool. Philip poured water over him as he baptised the man in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (It was in the desert, so we don’t know how much water there was nor how deep this pool was!)
The Ethiopian would have liked to have spent more time talking with Philip, only Philip was whisked away. But the Ethiopian continued his journey with deep happiness in his heart.
Find a pond, stream or big puddles to feed ducks, splash or even build a dam. Or just talk about water and how important it is for us. (In June 2020, there is the possibility of a water shortage in Yorkshire.)
If you have a Bible... you can read this story in full in Acts 8:26–40
Pray for our world
Pray for the country of Ethiopia in this time of coronavirus. In early June there had been over 2000 cases, and over 25 deaths. This is not currently a lot, but the country is in an emergency. Pray that it will not spread, and that the government will make wise decisions.
For Pentecost Sunday, Christians in the S8 Mission partnership recorded themselves saying the Lord’s Prayer and they were all collated to make a wonderful prayer. Watch and listen to it here:
Adapted from, and with thanks to, Barnabas in Schools, Messy