Living a Life of Faith, Energised by Love
last weeks, we’ve been swamped with ideas for what to do with children, some of
whom are now back at school. Here are some activities for exploring a story
from the Bible together. If you can’t source the suggested materials, use
what’s available at home!
The complete story comes as a play script with four characters – Narrator, Jesus, Saul and Ananias. If this doesn’t work for your family just read it. If you’ve got a Bible you can find the story in Acts chapter 9 verses 1 to 19.
NARRATOR: Not long after Jesus had gone back to be with his father and had sent his Holy Spirit, things started going badly for the Jesus-followers. Some of them were arrested and even killed, just for following Jesus. Many left their homes in Jerusalem in a hurry, escaping to far-off cities like Damascus.
Now there was one man in Jerusalem, a religious leader, who wanted to see these Jesus-people wiped off the face of the earth. His name was Saul.
SAUL: We must get rid of these Jesus-followers! I’ve heard lots of them are hiding out in Damascus. I’m going to get permission to go to Damascus to arrest the lot of them and bring them back to Jerusalem!
NARRATOR: Saul had almost reached Damascus when a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground!
JESUS: Saul! Saul! Why are you being so cruel to me?
SAUL: (groggily!) Who are you?
JESUS: I’m Jesus, the one you’re so cruel to. Now get up and go into Damascus, where you will be told what to do.
NARRATOR: Saul got up from the ground and started blinking.
SAUL: Aaaargh! I can’t see a thing!
NARRATOR: Saul was led by the hand to Damascus. For three days he was blind. He didn’t eat or drink anything. Meanwhile close by in Damascus, there was a Jesus-follower called Ananias. Jesus appeared to him in a vision.
JESUS: Ananias, get up and go to Judas’ house on Straight Street. When you get there, you’ll find a man whose name is Saul. He is praying, and he’s also had a vision. In his vision, he’s seen a man named Ananias coming to him and putting his hands on him, so that he can see again.
ANANIAS: Lord Jesus, I’ve heard some terrible things about what this man has done and how he’s treated your followers in Jerusalem. He’s come here to arrest anyone who worships you.
JESUS: Go, Ananias! I’ve chosen this man to tell many people about me, including kings and princes.
NARRATOR: Bravely, Ananias went to the house in Straight Street where Saul was staying. He placed his hands on Saul, as he’d been told to do.
ANANIAS: Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me. He is the same person who appeared to you along the road. He wants you to be able to see and to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
NARRATOR: Suddenly something like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes. He could see again! He got up and was baptised. Then he ate and felt much better. He stayed in Damascus and told the Jewish people there about Jesus being God’s rescuer. This completely confused them. They thought he wanted to kill all the Jesus-followers, not to join them, let alone try to make other people Jesus-followers too!
You will need: a magnifying glass or hand mirror; paper; a sunny day; sunglasses to protect eyes! (Remember, never look directly at the sun or you’ll risk damaging your eyes.)
How sharply can you focus the light of the sun through your magnifying glass or using your mirror, bringing the light to a point on the sheet of paper? (If you’re really patient, the paper might even catch fire so an adult should be on stand-by with a bucket of water!) Observe how bright the light gets. If it’s a dull day, experiment with focusing the light from a desk lamp or torch instead of the sun.
Talk about the bright light you’ve been watching. Did it dazzle you? On Saul’s journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, a sudden dazzling light appeared that only he could see. Something life-changing happened to him. This included a name change, from Saul to Paul.
You will need: a blindfold; a bit of space
Blindfold one person and then safely lead them by the hand around your house or garden. If you have space, create an obstacle course.
Talk about how it feels not to be able to see. After Saul met Jesus in a dazzling light on the road to Damascus, he was unable to see for three days. How far could these three days (like a lockdown) give Saul time to think about what had just happened to him? What sort of new thoughts and ideas have you had during our Lockdown?
You will need: an atlas with a scale or; Google maps
Find Damascus and Jerusalem on a map of the Middle East. How far is it to travel between the two cities? How long would it take Saul to travel to Damascus from Jerusalem assuming he travelled by horse? If he planned to bring the Jesus-followers back to Jerusalem, and they would have to walk, how long would it take? (We don’t know how they would travel. Might they travel by boat?) He must have been very determined to take them so far! Why did he want to take them back to Jerusalem?
I wonder what the house where Saul was taken in Damascus was like. Pictures of old houses in Damascus show they had a courtyard inside, lined with rounded arches, often with a pool and fountain in the centre, floors and walls were beautiful tiled, there were lots of green plants.
Make a small version of the courtyard of Judas’ house in Straight Street using the junk. You could make tiny mosaic tiles and small figures from today’s story to act out what happened – Judas, who owned the house (a different Judas from the one who betrayed Jesus), Saul and Ananias who was a Jesus-follower.
Talk about how the Jesus-followers like Ananias could have felt knowing
Saul had arrived in their city. What could they have done to Saul while he was
unable to see, eat or drink? When they eventually baptised him, might they have
used the pool in the courtyard?
• How do you think Saul felt after he’d met Jesus on the road to Damascus?
• If you were Ananias, would you have been brave enough to go to Saul in Straight Street? How might you have felt?
• Why do you think Jesus wanted Saul working for him? Weren’t there plenty of Jesus-followers already, without choosing such a bad man?
• Where is it dangerous to be a Jesus-follower these days?
Make some middle Eastern snacks, including olives and hummus. Imagine the first meal that Saul ate after he had received his sight back.
Can you find out anything about Christians in Damascus, the capital of Syria in 2020? Pray for them, especially that they will be brave like Ananias.
Light a candle for people who are bullied for their faith and ask God to be with them. They might live in countries where it is difficult to be a Christian. Or they may be people in schools, at work or students who are treated unkindly because of their faith.
The song, It’s a light and a hammer is a great song about being changed by meeting Jesus, because the message of Jesus is such good news. Here’s the link:
Adapted from, and with thanks to, Barnabas in Schools, Messy