The Kingdom of Heaven
Matthew 13:31-2. Let the children see mustard seeds, and explain
Matthew 13:33. Let the children see yeast and dough, and explain
Matthew 13:44. Let the children hunt for a piece of treasure in
the church, and explain the parable.
Matthew 13:45, and Butterworth and Inkpen's Stories Jesus Told version as well if you have it. Let the
children see a pearl, if possible, and explain the parable.
(adults or older children)
- A leader
(or more than one) to guide the congregation through the
seeds (these are commonly available, with other herbs and
- Yeast and
"treasure" to hide: e.g. one parish used a frisbee from a Christian
Resource Centre, which has the words "Smile! Jesus Loves You!"
written on it, and attached a bag of sweets to it hidden until the
frisbee was lifted from its hiding place).
- On the
morning of the service, prepare some dough and leave it somewhere warm so
that it is well-risen by the time of the service. Ask someone who
has a bread machine to do this if you can!
the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven: remind the children that we pray
"Your Kingdom come" in the Lord's prayer - what does this mean? It
reminds us that we are to live our lives, as Christians, with Jesus as
our King: we follow His rules, we obey Him and seek to serve Him. He
taught us that the most important rules are: love God and love your
neighbour. When we behave as God wishes, and take His message to others,
then we are spreading the Kingdom of Heaven - and these parables tell us
how that works.
Parable of the Mustard Seed: God's kingdom can spread even from tiny,
apparently uninspiring beginnings. "There has been a great deal of
not very profitable or interesting discussion as to which particular
plant Jesus meant. Some commentators need to be reminded that our Lord
was addressing a popular audience, and not teaching a botany class."
(Hugh Martin 2007) Martin's commentary focuses on
the amazing fact that, at the end of Jesus' earthly ministry, He left
only a handful of followers (one
hundred and twenty?), of low
collective wealth and social standing - yet two thousand years later
the good news has been taken to the far corners of the earth.
There was such life in the seed that Jesus planted, that His church
has grown beyond all expectation (like a garden herb that grows into a
tree), so that people of every nation (like the birds in the parable)
can be fed by it.
Parable of the Leaven: God's kingdom is infectious! Like yeast in
dough, if we put Christians into the world then they can transform all
they touch - good can be congagious, just as eveil can - but Martin
emphasises the fact that we do need to touch the world in order to
transform it: we cannot set ourselves apart.
Parable of the Hidden Treasure: God's kingdom is there to be discovered,
even when we least expect it. After the children have found the
treasure, briefly tell one of the many stories of people whose lives have
been transformed, against all their expectations, by the astonishing and
unsuspected love of God - from St Paul to C. S. Lewis, Brother Andrew and
others you will know yourself (perhaps even you!). Like the man in the
field, who may have walked that way many times before, we won't find it
until we are ready, but once we do it will transform our lives.
Parable of the Pearl: God's kingdom is priceless beyond measure.
Like the man in the story, those who have found it value it beyond all