Objective: To talk about what the word ‘agape’ means and how Christians can learn and grow to love each other in this way.
Game - 4 mins
Aim: To play a game where the children are introduced to the word ‘agape’.
You will need: Printed letters (see Printables), masking tape, sticky tac, plain white A4 paper, lively music and the means to play it.
Before the session print off the ‘letters’ and scrunch them into balls. Scrunch up additional sheets of paper until you have approximately four balls per child. Divide your teaching space in half by sticking a long strip of masking tape to the floor across the centre of your room. Divide your group into two equal teams and encourage one team to stand on one side of the tape and the other on the other side. Give half the paper balls to one team and the remaining balls to the other team.
Explain to the children that they need to try and get rid of all their paper balls by throwing them across the tape to the other team. The other team will do the same. Play the music while the children throw the balls backwards and forwards.
After about 10 seconds shout ‘Find me an A’. The children should then, as quickly as possible, unscrunch the paper balls (on either side of the masking tape line) to find a letter ‘A’. When you have the letter stick it to the wall using sticky tac. There will be two letter ‘A’s, stick one to the wall and re-scrunch the other. Ask the children to re-scrunch the remaining paper. Restart the music and encourage the children to begin ‘getting rid’ of the balls again. After about 10 seconds ask the children to find a ‘G’. Repeat this with finding the other ‘A’, then a ‘P’, then finally an ‘E’. You may want to encourage the children to look for two letters at the same time if you are short of time.
Stick all the letters on the wall. Ask the children if they can read the word you have spelt. Explain that it is an ancient Greek word that is pronounced a-ga-pay.
Talk about - 8 mins
You will need: A large sheet of paper or a whiteboard, marker pens, the printed letters from the game and a Bible.
Before the session write the verse on the whiteboard or paper. Read the verse aloud. Stick the printed letters from the game next to the verse to spell the word ‘agape’. Point out that the word ‘agape’ is not in the verse. Explain that when John first wrote this verse he would have written it in ancient Greek and instead of the word ‘love’ he would have written ‘agape’. Underline the word ‘love’. Explain that ‘love’ is the right English translation for ‘agape’ but there is an even better way of describing what ‘agape’ means: ‘agape’ means ‘loving somebody in such a way that you put them first and expect nothing in return’.
If we were to take John’s verse and read it the way Jesus said it we would read… ‘everyone will know that you are my disciples because you put each other first and expect nothing in return’.
Quickly underline the word disciples and remind the children that this verse isn't just about the first 12 disciples, it's about all Christians everywhere. Christians today are Jesus' disciples because like the first disciples they want to live the way Jesus lived and do the things he taught. They want to think, feel and live like him.
But why will Jesus' disciples love each other this way? Remind the children that last week we discovered that a disciple is someone who, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit, is learning and growing to be more like Jesus. Jesus loves people with agape love - putting them first and expecting nothing in return. Because Jesus loves people this way, with the powerful help of the Holy Spirit his disciples will learn and grow to love people this way too.
Song - 3 mins
To the tune: ‘London Bridge is falling down’
Everyone will know that you,
Know that you, x2
Everyone will know that you,
Are my disciples.
Because of your love for each other,
For each other, x2
Because of your love for each other.
You’re my disciples.