'The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.' Psalm 103:8


Week 2 objective: to discover that God is gracious - he is bigger than the universe and yet he shows kindness to people who are tiny in comparison to him.

Game - 7 mins
Aims: to play a game with a ball that will be used to illustrate the vastness of the universe.
You will need: a ball about 30 cm in diameter (such as a large football or small beach ball).

Encourage the children to stand in a circle. Tell the children that you are going to play a game of ‘hot potato’. Explain that the children will need to pass the ball around the circle slowly to start with, then faster and faster. As the children pass the ball a person calls out ‘hot potato’. (This could be a helper or a volunteer.) The group then counts down from ten to one. The person holding the ‘hot potato’ (the ball) when the group reaches ‘one’ has to go down on one knee. The group then begins passing the ball round again. Someone else calls out 'hot potato' and the group counts down from ten to one. Again, the person left holding the 'hot potato' must go down on one knee. If a player ends up holding the ‘hot potato’ a second time they must go down on two knees. If they hold it for a third time they are out and must sit to one side. The game should be played as quickly as possible.

Talk about - 6 mins
Beware of allergies make sure it is safe for the children in your group to handle the food used in this activity.

You will need: a large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens, a Bible, the Fish symbol (see Printables), the ball used in the game above and a peppercorn.

Write the verse on the sheet of paper or whiteboard.

Recap: underline the word ‘compassionate’ and remind the children that last week we learnt that the Bible teaches that God is compassionate - he knows when people are suffering and he wants to do something about their pain and sadness. In fact the Bible teaches that God longs to help and comfort people who are sad or living troubled lives.

Underline the word ‘gracious’. Ask the children if they know what ‘gracious’ means. Explain that the best way to describe the word ‘gracious’ is to describe what God is like.

The Bible teaches that God is mighty, strong and powerful, yet he is interested in everything people do, even the little things. Another way to think about God's graciousness is to think about God being greater than anything or anybody and yet showing his love and kindness to the smallest of things.

Christians believe that one way to try and imagine how mighty, strong and powerful God is, is to think about him as the creator of the universe.

Hold up the ball used in the game - this should be about 30 cm in diameter. Explain that in this illustration the ball is going to represent the sun. Quickly tell three amazing facts about the sun:

•The sun is extremely hot – the surface is 5500 degrees Celsius (cakes are usually baked at around 170 degrees Celsius!).

•Plants need sunlight to grow – it takes about eight minutes for light to travel from the sun to the earth.

•The sun is much, much, much bigger than our planet Earth – the diameter of the sun is about 109 times greater than the diameter of the earth.

To demonstrate the size of the sun, hold a peppercorn next to the ball. Explain that if you shrunk the earth and the sun down until the earth was the size of a peppercorn the sun would be about the size of the ball. Explain that the sun is a star and that there are millions of stars in the universe, some bigger, some smaller than the sun. In light of this illustration try to encourage the children to think about how big the universe is. Talk about Christians believing God is powerful and mighty because they believe he made the universe.

Remind the children how this illustration relates back to the definition of God's graciousness:

Christians believe that God is greater than the universe (the illustration demonstrated that the universe is far bigger than we could ever imagine) and yet he shows kindness to people who are tiny in comparison to him - this is why Christians say ‘God is gracious’.

If you have time talk about the kindness God shows to us and the wonderful things he does in our lives. Show the children the Fish symbol and talk about the good things that God brings to our lives.

Song - 2 mins
To the tune ‘My Bonnie lies over the ocean’

The Lord is compass'nate and gracious,
It says so in Psalm 1, 0, 3,
The Lord is slo-ow to get angry,
His love is abounding to me, to me,
His love is abounding to me.

Encourage the children to make a puppet face with their hands (see Printables). As they say or sing the verse they should move their thumb to make it look as if the puppet is speaking.

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