The Birth of John the Baptist:
- Invite the children to the front and
explain that today is the day when we celebrate the birth of John the
Baptist. Talk a bit about his birth and who he was.
- Why was water so important to
John? There is a very good idea by Lucy Moore for wondering at water's
properties, on the Bible Reading Fellowship's Barnabas website.
- Talk about the meaning of baptism:
you could invite the children to gather round the font for this.
Could your priest be available for this part of the teaching?
- Read the story of Jesus' baptism
from a children's Bible.
- An adult to lead the discussion.
- A confident reader for the story of Jesus'
- A large,
transparent bowl of water.
- A plastic
mat and large towel to spread around the demonstration area, and smaller
towels for wiping hands.
items that do not change in water: plastic toys, a sponge, spoon, and so
items that look as if they are changed in water: chopstick, straw, and so
items that are changed by water: you can have spectacular results from
items that are found in any large supermarket, like face cloths that
expand on rehydration; tiny capsules from which little sponge creatures
emerge when dropped into hot water; denture-cleaning tablets (try
dropping a couple into a glass of warm water, and hear the children
scream with delight as the bubbles erupt over the top of the glass!), and
so on. You'll need to bring a glass and some warm water for this,
items that are covered in mud or water-soluble paint: volunteers' hands,
little mirrors, clear plastic boxes (e.g. cd cases), and so
- Children's Bible
- Some more
water for use at the font, if liked.
- Select a
reader at the beginning of the service.
- For the
water demonstrations you'll need a fairly large space where the children
can gather round the water container, which you might put on a table for
better visibility. One idea is to use a large space like the nave,
and gather all the items there before the service. Then you can simply
spread out the mat and towel, and pass out each item to the children in
turn during the teaching activity, so that every child has a turn at
dropping something into the water.
- Who was
John the Baptist? He was Jesus' cousin. His parents were already
very old at the time of his birth, but an angel had told his father that
they would have a baby who would be filled with God's Holy Spirit and
would prepare the way for God's promised Saviour. When John grew up he
lived in the desert. Many people came to him, and he taught them about
God. He said that they should stop doing bad things and start doing good,
and he baptised them by dipping them quickly into the River Jordan as a
sign that they were sorry because their lives had been dirty, and now
they were starting again.
- Why was
water so important to John? When you have explored water's
properties, and seen how it can change some things by washing away their
dirt, talk about how, in baptism, water is a sign that a person wants to
wash away the 'dirt' in their lives and turn to God.
- What is
the meaning of baptism? Baptism is a visible sign that a person is
turning away from evil and making a new start with God. Parents of
infants who are being baptised thank God for His gift of life, and ask
the church's support in bringing that child to the Christian faith. The
child is welcomed into the church family. Parents and godparents make
promises on behalf of a child who is too young to make them for herself:
they publicly declare that they believe in God, have turned away from
evil and towards Christ, and will help the child to follow Jesus. The
congregation in turn promises to support and pray for the child and
parents. The water used in baptism is a sign of being washed free from
sin and starting a new life with God. A lighted candle is usually given
to the parents as a sign of the light that has come into their child's
- Jesus did
not have any sin to be washed away, nor had He ever turned towards evil,
but His baptism was God's will and He was always obedient to His