Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

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Week 1 objectives: to discover that this verse can be found in the book of Matthew and to talk briefly about rules.

Game - 7 mins
Aim: to think about the need for rules and instructions.
You will need: ‘Instructions sheet’ (see Printables), cardboard boxes, a selection of items that could be used to play a game such as a table tennis ball, a sponge football, a shuttlecock, a bean bag, a hoop, inflatable beach ball, blindfolds, a spoon etc. If you have a quieter group use items such as a dice, counters, chess board etc.

Divide the children into groups of no more than five. Give each group three or four items from the list above plus a cardboard box, an ‘instructions sheet’ and a pen. Explain to the groups that they need to quickly make up a game that involves the items they have been given. Make it clear that the games can be silly. Ask them to think of a name for their game and three simple rules that must be obeyed to play it properly. Give the children as much help as they need. When they have decided on their game encourage them to write their rules on their sheet and put it in the box with the items. Give the groups a couple of minutes to swap boxes and try and play each other's games.

For an alternative activity play a game of musical statues and then ask the children to name three rules that must be obeyed to play the game correctly i.e. to listen, to move when the music plays and stand still when the music stops.

Talk about - 6 mins
You will need: a whiteboard or a large sheet of paper, marker pens, 'How to remember the two main things' prompt sheet (see Printables) and a Bible.

Write the verse on a whiteboard or a large sheet of paper.  Read the verse aloud and explain that this verse will help us understand more about living God’s way.

Circle the word ‘Matthew’ in the reference. Explain that this verse comes from the book of Matthew. Ask one of the older children to find ‘Matthew’ in the Bible. Talk about the book of Matthew being one of the four Gospels, the books that tell the story of Jesus’ life.  Briefly show the children the Gospels and the book of Matthew.

Draw a stick person next to the verse and write the name Matthew underneath. Matthew used to be a tax collector; he worked for the Romans collecting money. Draw another stick person and write ‘Jesus’ underneath. One day Jesus asked Matthew to become one of his disciples. Matthew travelled with Jesus; he watched and listened to him, then wrote down what he saw and heard. The things he wrote have been put into the book of Matthew. 

Remind the children of the games they have just played. Show the children one of the instruction sheets. Explain that the groups needed to follow each other’s rules to play the games properly. Ask the children if they knew that thousands of years ago God gave his people, the Israelites, a set of rules to live by. The rules showed the Israelites how God wanted them to live. When the Israelites followed the rules they lived God’s way.  The rules were like instructions showing the Israelites how to live God’s way. 

When Matthew wrote this verse he was writing about a time when Jesus was talking to some teachers. Draw a group of stick people next to the verse. The teachers were called Pharisees. Write the word ‘Pharisees’ under the stick people. The Pharisees studied God’s rules. 

One of the Pharisees thought he was cleverer than Jesus and wanted to ask him a difficult question. Draw a speech bubble with a question mark in it next to one of the stick men. ‘Which of all God’s rules are the greatest?’ the Pharisee asked. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ said Jesus. Point to the verse as you repeat what Jesus said. Draw a heart next to the verse. Write the word 'God' inside the heart. After Jesus had said this, he said that the second most important rule is to love other people and treat them well. Draw a second heart next to the verse. Write the word 'others' inside the second heart.

If you have time explain that Jesus wasn't saying the set of rules were no longer important, he was explaining that the rules are in fact about two main things, loving God and loving others. Today Christians believe that living God's way is still about the two main things: ‘loving God’ and ‘loving others’. We can remember these two things with simple hand actions (see Printables).

Song - 2 mins
To the tune of ‘Oh you'll never get to heaven’.

    Love the Lord your God x2
    With all your heart x2
    With all your soul x2
    And all of your mind x2
    This is the first and greatest command
    To love your God with all of your heart
    Matthew 22 verse 37

    Matthew 22 verse 37 x6
    Chorus harmony
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, Matthew 22 verse 37
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, Matthew 22 verse 37.


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