I thought I’d write up some ideas for All Age activities on Bible Sunday, in case they are useful.
1. Bible Timeline
You will need: washing line, clothespegs, and a whole bunch of pictures of bible stories (mix of Old and New Testament, ideally covering as much of the bible as possible, creation to Revelation) – if you like, also print out some bible verses or passages. It’s not too hard to find suitable pictures by searching google images or similar. It works best if you laminate your printouts, so that you can use them again. Before the service, leave all the laminated pictures and bible verses around the church.
Introduce the idea that we often hear Bible stories on their own, but we don’t get many chances to look at the big story. Get out the washing line and pegs – and ask for two people to hold the ends of the line. Ask people to look at any pictures and verses that they find near them, and try and work out where on the Bible timeline they might go – establish which end of the washing line is creation, and which is revelation, then invite people to come forward and peg their picture or verse to the line. Chaos may ensue, but that’s OK – you can wander up and down the line pointing out some of the stories, wondering aloud about the order etc.
Have a look together at the finished timeline, and pose this question: if this were a song, and all the different pictures were the verses of the song, what sort of thing would you expect to find in the chorus? Is there something that ties together all these different stories? Are there some key words or images that we’d expect to find in the chorus? Ask for suggestions. If you have someone poetic in the congregation (or if you’re good with words) you could have a go at writing a chorus – perhaps to a well known hymn tune, or set people the challenge of writing one after the service.
If you can display your timeline somewhere in church after the service, people who come in will be able to see it, enjoy it, and interact with it. You could leave the question there too, on a large piece of paper with a pen next to it, and invite anyone who comes by to add their suggestions for what they think should be in the chorus.
Before the service, get hold of enough pens and coloured paper (approximately A6 size) for everyone in the congregation. You will also need a scrapbook (big enough to hold all the papers) and some glue, and someone who is willing to help stick paper into the scrapbook during the service after the talk.
Start by telling everyone what your favourite bible story is, and why – or it could be just a favourite verse. If you remember how you first heard or read that story, you can tell that, too – it might be that you remember it from a children’s bible, or it may be something that became important to you later in life.
Invite everyone to write on their piece of paper their favourite verse, or draw a picture of their favourite bible story. If they want to add a note about why it’s important to them that would be great, but they don’t have to. While everyone is busy drawing and writing, you could ask if anyone wants to share aloud what they’ve chosen.
Remind everyone that the stories in the Bible are meant for telling, for sharing, and if a story or a verse has been important to us, then it might be good for someone else, too. Collect the papers, and ask your helper to stick all the pictures and verses into the scrapbook, so that it is ready for the end of the service. At the end of the service, just before the final blessing, hold up the scrap book and offer all that it contains to God, with this or another suitable prayer:
you spoke your word to make the world,
you spoke your word to your prophets to guide us,
you spoke your word in scripture, to tell the story of your love,
and you gave us your living Word, Jesus Christ.
Bless us in our hearing and reading,
bless us in our writing and drawing,
bless us in our telling and sharing,
and may our work today be a blessing
to ourselves, to one another, and to all we meet. Amen.
Display the bible at the back of the church, near the door, and encourage everyone to look at it and enjoy it over coffee, or as they leave.
3. Story swap
You will need: small pieces of paper, as in the scrap book activity (approximately A6 size), and pens – enough for everyone in the congregation.
In this activity, you can encourage everyone to draw or write their favourite bible story or verse on their paper, as in the scrapbook activity above. But instead of collecting the papers and sticking them in the scrapbook, ask everyone to stand up, if they’re able, and move around the church so that they can start swapping their papers around. As they swap papers with someone, encourage them to share why that verse or story is important to them. Everyone should end up with a different piece of paper from the one they started with – this is theirs to take home.
Wonder together about the variety of stories, wisdom, law, poetry etc that there is in the bible – and how parts of the bible may fill us with hope, or comfort, while others are challenging. Wonder about how the Bible and shaped us, and taught us, and how we in turn shape and teach others in the words and images that mean most to us.
You may also wish to encourage people to take their new piece of paper home, and give it to someone who wasn’t at church, telling them the story that is depicted on it, or sharing the verse written on it. Or, they could put it somewhere prominent at home – on a notice board, or mantle piece, or stuck to the fridge with a magnet.
(The aim of this activity is to encourage the congregation to feel more confident about sharing something of their faith).
4. Bible Sunday Hymn
For anyone who missed it last year, here’s a hymn for Bible Sunday.
Usual rules apply: help yourself, no need for CCLI etc.
Tune: Regent Square, or other compatible 878787 tunes.
Word of life! Such transformation!
bringing light to darkest space;
loving mother of creation,
forging life in every place.
Shine that light on every nation,
gather us in your embrace.
Word of truth! You spoke though history,
prophets knew you as their friend;
As you shared with earth the mystery
of your love that knows no end.
Yet your fullest glory must be
More than words can comprehend.
Word made flesh! You came to meet us,
pitched your tent among our own,
Born on earth so heaven could greet us:
God in human heart and bone.
Teach us, lead us, tend us, feed us
with the life that’s yours alone.
Words of scripture, here you teach us,
All you speak is here received.
Shared by print and voice to reach us:
written, read and now believed;
Speak again to all and each, as
faith is grown and life is lived.