March: We have a king who rides a donkey!
Pause for thought: Take time to read the Bible story about Palm Sunday below. At the start of that dramatic Easter week, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding on the back of a little donkey. Here was a gentle, people’s king, who had come to serve his subjects and knew each one’s individual needs. Later that week, he would make the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life on the Cross.
Sometimes we can feel daunted at the role we have been given as parents, doubting our skills and feeling that we know too little of the Bible to be able to pass our faith on to our children. Yet on Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem in triumph on the back of a young donkey that had never been ridden before. He can do much with the humble gifts we offer him.
The charity Care for the Family has just launched its Kitchen Table Project, in which it will seek to inspire parents, the biggest influence in their children’s lives, to nurture the faith of those children. Parents don’t need to be theological experts – but simply to bring God into the everyday things that we are doing anyway with our families. Why not sign up to be part of the online community and receive regular inspiration? (www.kitchentable.org.uk/join ) Follow on social media via facebook: ktpcampaign and twitter: @ktcampaign
Story: Here comes Jesus, on Palm Sunday! (Based on Luke 19:28-38)
A little donkey lived at Olive Tree Farm. He often stood, tied to a shady tree, dreaming of the day when he would be big enough to give someone a ride on his back. Who would that be, he wondered. And where would he take them?
One day, he heard voices in the yard. Two men were coming through the gate into his paddock. They wore stripy cloaks and smiled broadly.
“Hello, little donkey!” they said. “We’re going to untie you. Jesus our Master needs you!”
Back went the donkey’s ears. What was happening? He didn’t belong to these men. So he opened his mouth, and gave a very loud HEE-HAW!
“Hey! Where are you taking my donkey?” called the farmer.
“Jesus, our Master, needs him,” explained the men. “But we’ll bring him back soon!”
The farmer nodded. “Go on, little donkey! You’ll be quite safe with Jesus!”
As he trotted along between the two men, his hooves clattered on the road. Clip-clop, clip-clop! He put his ears forward again. This was quite an adventure!
Soon they met a group of people talking and laughing at the roadside. The little donkey stopped, afraid to go forward. But a man with a kind face stepped out of the crowd and came to whisper in his ears.
“Don’t be afraid, little donkey. I’m your friend, Jesus. Will you help me? I want you to carry me all the way to Jerusalem.”
The little donkey wasn’t sure. He hadn’t given anyone a ride before! But he stood quietly to let Jesus climb onto his back. Then they all set off along the road. Clip clop, clip clop!
Many people stood at the roadside, looking out for them.
“Look who’s coming!” they shouted. “It’s Jesus, our gentle king, riding on a little donkey!” The little donkey twitched his ears. Was he really carrying a king on his back?
“Hello, Jesus!” called a boy. “Thank you for making my sister better!”
“Please bless our family!” asked a mum with her baby.
As they started to go down the steep hillside, Jesus’ friends began to sing for joy and people waved spiky palm leaves to welcome their king!
Now the road climbed up, up into the city of Jerusalem. But somehow the little donkey didn’t feel tired. He walked under a big archway and out into the warm sunshine. Someone laid a cloak on the road. How soft it felt under his hooves!
“Here comes Jesus!” shouted crowds of people. “Hosanna! Welcome to our gentle king!” What a din! But the little donkey didn’t feel scared any more – just pleased and proud to be bringing King Jesus.
Here comes Jesus! Read the Bible story together as a family, perhaps around the kitchen table! (With little children, you could all make a hee- haw sound every time the donkey is mentioned! You could also use your hands as ears and put them forwards and backwards during the story according to whether you think the donkey is feeling scared, curious, or happy.) Chat about the story:
Have you ever been in a big crowd waiting to see someone special? What was it like?
Why do you think Jesus chose to ride on a little donkey?
Jesus needed the little donkey’s help. Do you think Jesus needs our help sometimes? How does that make you feel?
I wonder why people waved branches of palm?
Do you think Jesus knows each one of us?
On a family walk: Count how many horses and donkeys you see. When you reach an open space, pretend to be a young donkey or horse. What do you look like? What is your name? Practise trotting and galloping around. Swish your tail to get rid of flies! Give a loud neigh or hee-haw!
Jump over puddles and branches! How do you think you would feel in a big noisy crowd? Who would you like to carry on your back?
A Palm Sunday Song: (To the tune, I hear thunder)
I hear, Jesus, I hear Jesus,
Here he comes, here he comes,
Clip-clop on his donkey, clip-clop on his donkey,
Wave your palms, wave your palms! (Repeat)
Then shout Hosanna! with arms raised!
Palm Sunday crafts: In biblical times, palm branches were waved to welcome royalty and other important people.
Palm branches: Roll a large rectangle of green or brown paper lengthwise into a tight ‘tube’ and tape one end. Cut down the tube to within about 15cm of the taped end, making thin strips. Gently pull up the inner strips until the branch is a good length and shake carefully.
Younger children might like to decorate big green leaf shapes with triangles cut from the edges. These could be stiffened by taping a cardboard tube or cane to the reverse, thus providing a handle.
Take them along to wave at any Palm Sunday procession at a local church!
I was in the crowd! On a large piece of paper, parents or older children draw the profile of a donkey’s head with long ears coming in from the right. Now fill the page with lots of circles. As a family, fill these in with your own faces and those of other family members and friends! As you do so, chat about all the noise, joy and excitement there would have been on that Palm Sunday!
Party game: Play Pin the tail on the donkey! Chat about working animals, such as police horses. How do you think they deal with noisy crowds and disturbances? The Queen used to take part in the Trooping the Colour ceremony on horseback. Look it up on the Internet!
At bedtime, make up a story together, pretending you are getting ready to go out to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. What do you wear? Do you take anything to wave? What is the weather like? What is it like on the streets? What sounds can you hear? Can you see properly over the crowds? Now Jesus is getting close. He is going to pass right by you. What do you think you would like to say to him? It could be a thank you for something, or maybe something you would like to ask. Have a think. Turn this into a prayer.
Thank you for . . . / please could you help me to . . . / I want to tell you about . . .
Thank you that you listen to me and that you know my name, even though you are a king!