Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saints Day Children's Program, November 1st, 2007

On November 1st, St. George's of Middlesex Centre, one of the churches I serve, played host to the Deaner of Medway's All Saints Children's Day. This event is one of a series of events organized by deanery youth ministry coordinator Heather Brown. Medway deanery offers two events a year, one on All Saints Day (1 Nov) and one at the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and takes advantage of Ontario legislation that excuses children from school to attend a day of religious instruction. Because this was All Saints Day, we thought we'd take advantage of the host church's name and tell the story of George and the Dragon using crafts, drama, stories and games. A video of the event, shot by Heather Brown, can be seen here. There are digital pictures and captions as part of my Facebook site. A video of the event, shot by Heather Brown, can be seen here.


video

A script and outline of part of the day's events is posted below. You are more than welcome to use it or adapt it as you see fit.

Morning Session
Facilitator talks about the importance of saints. We believe as Anglicans that saints are role models – they teach us how to be Christian. By their example, we learn what it means to live the kind of life that God wants us to live.
Today we are going to have a visit from a very special saint, St. George! And here he is now!
Voice off:
Left, right! Left, right!
Marching off, to the fight!
Gotta be strong, do what’s right!
Gotta love God with all my might!
Left, right! Left right!
Company ...... HALT!

Looks around, surprised.

Well, hello there!
I say, I’ve been marching for a long, long time.
I could use a bit of a rest.
Do you mind if I take off my armour
And sit down for a visit?


My name’s George. How do you do?
They call me SAINT George, but really, George is fine.
And what are your names?

So pleased to meet you.
They told me you were studying ME.
And they told me that this church is named after ME!
Fancy that! Isn’t that kind of you!
I say, I would love something to eat.
May I please have one of those cookies?
Thanks awfully! How nice. Very tasty.
So, what would you like to know about me?

The children might ask, or be prompted to ask George to talk about his life.

My life? My goodness, that’s a long story and it’s rather hard to tell.
You see, I’ve been around for such a long time, there’s a lot to remember.
I guess I should start back in the year 400!
That was a long, long time ago.
I was a soldier in the Roman Army.
As a soldier I had to be brave and strong and ready to fight.
But, I was also a Christian.
I believed that Jesus was our Lord and Saviour, the Son of God.
And that was hard, because in those days,
If you were a soldier, you weren’t allowed to be a Christian.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a Christian.
Perhaps it’s hard for you, when you’re friends don’t go to church
And you can’t be them them when you’d like to on Sundays.
Well, one day they found out that I was a Christian.
They said, George old boy, you can either give up this being Christian business,
Or, well, if you don’t, we’ll just have to chop your head off.
My goodness, that was a hard choice.



What did I do? Well, it was simple. I said I would stay a Christian.
Even if they chopped my head off.



Was I scared? I should say so. I was scared stiff.
But you see, I remembered what the Bible said
About having faith and putting on the armour of God.
I knew that I could trust God and he would protect me.
No matter what happened.



Well, I’m still here, aren’t I?
You see, saints are hard chaps to kill.
We’re God’s reminders.
Whenever someone is scared,
Whenever someone wonders what’s the right thing to do,
Whenever someone needs a good example, they can look to us.

Years and years later, some soldiers from England heard about me.
They heard about my fight with the dragon
And they brought my story back to England.
They made me the national saint of England.
That’s why my red cross on a white shield
became part of the British flag.



What dragon? My goodness, THE dragon.
Have you never seen a dragon?
Well, the dragon has lots of different names.
Some people call him the devil, some people call him Satan.
The important thing is, the dragon is whatever is bad.
Anything that goes against God’s plan for the world is a dragon.
Anything that tempts us to do bad things,
Anything that tries to get us to love ourselves more than other people,
Anything tries to get us to put ourselves ahead of other people,
That’s a dragon.
I fought the dragon many times.
I always chased him off, but he always came back.
I’m always ready to fight him.

That’s my story, and that’s why,
Whenever people remember me and tell my story,
They talk about St. George and the dragon.
If we go into this church that is so kindly named after me,
I bet that we can see some pictures of me and the dragon.
Let’s go look, shall we?



That was very interesting, wasn’t it?
Did you know that you too can be dragon fighters?
That’s right! All of us Christians are dragon fighters.
When we were baptized, our parents and our godparents
And the whole congregation in church that day,
Promised that they would teach us to fight against
Satan, the devil, and all the bad things in the world.
So that makes us dragon fighters, doesn’t it?
Our family and our church family promised to help us
To grow up to be dragon fighters.

Now, as dragon fighters, how are you going to fight the dragon?
What sorts of things would you need?
.

Those are all good answers.
I have some more answers, from the Bible.
In a book of the Bible called Ephesians, Paul
(Paul was also a saint, a good fellow, Paul)
Writes this advice for dragon fighters.

“God is strong and he wants you strong. So take everything that the Lord has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything that the Dragon throws your way. ... Be prepared. ... Take up all the help you can get, every weapon God has given you, so that when it’s all over you’ll still be on your feet. Truth makes the best belt, fasten it tight around your waist. Doing what’s right in God’s eyes makes the best armour, so put that on over your chest. Wear good boots, that make you want to tell how great God is wherever you may go! Faith and trust in God makes the best shield against whatever flames that old dragon spits out at you! Your best helmet comes from Jesus, who died to save us all from sin. Finally, your best sword isn’t a sword at all, but it’s the Holy Spirit that we learn about in the Bible, which teaches us how to be God’s people. And always, always, pray for yourself and for other people, and use prayer as your lifeline to God.”

This paraphrase of Ephesians 6:10-18 is inspired partly by Eugene Peterson’s The Message and is partly my own paraphrase of the NRSV.



So, how does that make you feel?
Do you think you’d be safe with all those things?


So since St. Paul finished by asking us to pray,
Can I pray with you?

Gracious God, thank you that through our baptism,
You gave us the power to be dragon fighters
Through the love of your son, Jesus Christ.
Help us always to be strong to do what is good in your eyes.
And whenever we do wrong things,
Please forgive us and help us to try again and do better.
We ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Well, friends, it’s been so nice talking to you.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about me on my special day.
More importantly, thank you for wanting to be God’s dragon fighters.
I pray that God blesses you and keeps you close to Him always.
And now, well, a dragon-fighter’s work is never done.
That old dragon is out there somewhere
and I’ve got to keep looking for him!
I’ll see you later! Goodbye!



After the visit from St. George the children can engage in crafts or activities.
After a break and before lunch, the Dragon will visit.

Dragon enters singing to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon”
I’m Ruff the Nasty Dragon!
I’m scary as can be!
I love to be mean and ferocious,
And make people frightened of me!

Big and small, short and tall,
I gobble folks up, boots and all!
You’d better watch out!
Better scream and shout!
‘Cuz today I’m here for YOU!!!!

Dragon looks around.

So, whaddya’ think? Are you scared?
I bet you are! I bet you’ve never seen
A dragon as scary as me? Well??

Well, you oughta be scared!
Who do you think I am? Barney the Dinosaur?
Well, I ain’t no nice guy like him.
I’m MEAN! I’m RUFF THE NASTY DRAGON!
Fortunately for you guys, today I’m not very hungry!
On the way hear I ate a farmer AND his combine,
And a whole field of cows! So good thing for you I’m full!

Well, almost full. I’ve always got room for a cookie ... or two ... or three.
Gimmee those cookies! . Mmmmm, delicious.

So, what are you guys doing here today? How come you’re not in school?



Saint George? So that’s what he’s calling himself these days, is it?
LOSER George is more like it.
I’ll bet he told you he won the last time we met?
Yeah, I’ll bet he did. I’ll bet he even got folks to name a church after him.
Say, what’s this church called?

Oh, man! That guy! What a nerve.
Well, don’t you BELIEVE a word of it!
The last time we met, SCAREDY George was running away calling for
His mommy!

“Oh, mommy, mommy, save me from the big nasty dragon!”
Hmmph!
Saint George. Don’t make me laugh!

Look, kids, let me set you straight. Forget all that stuff.
St. George made it all up later because he’s a LOSER.
Face it, kids, nice guys always finish last.
How do you think I got to be such an important dragon?
By being NICE to people?
Forgetabout! They don’t call me Ruff the Dragon for nothing!
I got this name ‘cuz I’m Rough and Tough!
So remember, kids, nice guys finish last.
If you want to succeed in life, you gotta look out for number one!
You gotta be rough and tough, like me!


Well, kids, enough talk. Gotta run.
So many people to be nasty to, so little time.
Hmm, maybe a cookie for the road.
Say you don’t mind, do you?
Ha! As if you could stop me!




I’m Ruff the Nasty Dragon!
I’m scary as can be!
I love to be mean and ferocious,
And make people frightened of me!


Facilitators use this time to talk with the children about the dragon.
What did they think about him?
Is it better to be loved or feared? What did Jesus say (talk about the Golden Rule, love one another as you would love yourselves.
Talk about the dragon as a symbol of evil Ask children to identify other bad things, other sources of evil in the world (eg, child slavery, internet pornography, use of child soldiers in the third world, violent drug crime in schools, etc What are Christians supposed to think about these things?
After getting some thoughts from children, return to what St. George said about the Ephesians “Whole Armour of God” text in light of our baptismal vows. Our parents and godparents/sponsors promised at our birth to help us become people who would resist evil. Paul in Ephesians talks about the things that help us resist evil – prayer, faith, etc.


After lunch, St. George returns for a visit.

Hello friends! Did you have a good lunch?
Jolly good! You can’t be dragon fighters on an empty stomach!

I say, speaking of dragons,
you haven’t seen that old Dragon around, have you?
You have? By jove! I thought so!
My dragon sense was telling me there was trouble nearby?

Look, now that you’re all dragon fighters,
How about we put on our coats and boots
And go see if we can see signs of him?

St. George leads the children outside to look for signs of the dragon.
As they uncover signs, St. George looks wary, strokes his chin a lot,
And says things like “By jove” and “Can’t be too careful” and the like.

After returning to the parish hall:

Well, dragon fighters, you better be careful.
I’m going out for another look.
Remember, if you see that dragon,
Just call for St. George and I’ll be there to help you!

St. George leaves.
Shortly thereafter, Ruff the Dragon appears, singing.

I’m Ruff the Nasty Dragon!
I’m scary as can be!
I love to be mean and ferocious,
And make people frightened of me!



Hmmm, you again, eh? Well, guess what?
I haven’t had my lunch, and those cookies
Weren’t enough to fill me up!
I guess that means I’ll have to eat ...... YOU!!!


The children can be encouraged to scream and call for St. George, who at once reappears.

George: Now see here, Dragon!
Stop trying to frighten those children.
They know all about you and your wicked ways.
You just leave them alone and clear out.

Dragon: Oh yeah? Sez who?
Who’s going to stop me, eh?

George: I’m going to stop you,
Just like I did every other time.

Dragon: You’re going to stop me?
What a laugh! I hope you’ve got
A whole army out there, ‘cuz you’re going to need it.

George: I don’t need an army, Dragon.
I’ve got the shield of faith, the power of prayer,
And the love of Jesus Christ on me side.
You know what the Good Book says?
It says, “At the name of Jesus, every knee shall fall!”

Dragon: Well, THIS knee ain’t falling,
And I ain’t falling for you!
Get ready to be a dragon burger!


Dragon : Owwww, that hurt!
Whad’ya go and do a thing like that for?

George: I was defending myself!
I don’t want to hurt you, dragon,
But I am a dragon fighter,
And you are an evil dragon.

Dragon: But you did hurt me!
Do you think it’s any fun being an evil dragon?
You’ve been having a good time in here
While I’ve been lurking outside all day.
I don’t have any friends.

George: Well, you don’t have to be an evil dragon.

Dragon: Yes I do. I can’t help it. It’s the way I am.
It’s the way I am!
Boo hoo hoo!

George:
There there, dragon, don’t cry. Come on, cheer up.
Look, you don’t have to be an evil dragon.
God didn’t make you to be evil.
God made everyone in the his own image.
That means God wants all of us to be his friends.

Dragon: Even dragons?

George:
Even dragons, if they want to be God’s friends.
Do you know what else the Good Book says?
It says that “Nothing can keep us apart from the love of God.”
That includes you, if you want God to love me.

Dragon: How do I get God to love you?

George: God loves you already.
All you have to do is say after me.

“I’m sorry that I did bad things.”
“Thank you for loving me.”
“Thank you for sending me your son Jesus
To forgive me for the bad things I’ve done.”
“Help me from now on to be your friend
And to share your love with the people I meet.”

Dragon: That feels better.
Do I have to do anything else?

George: Well, you could apologize to these children
For scaring them and stealing their cookies.

Dragon:
Ummm, I’m sorry I scared you and took your cookies.

George: Children, do you forgive Dragon?
Why don’t you give Dragon a hug?

Dragon looks happy, hugs and high fives the children.

George: So, Dragon, how do you feel now?
Dragon: Well, I feel different!
I feel like a new dragon! I like it!
It makes me want to say thank you to God!

George: So why don’t you stay and worship God with us?
We’re going to celebrate the Eucharist now,
And have a meal of bread and wine together.
The Eucharist means “Thank You Dinner.”
So, will you stay for dinner?

Dragon: I think I will!

We close with the Eucharist. While it is being set up, a facilitator can ask the children what they have learned from the event. The children can be reminded about being dragon fighters and resisting evil, but as the dragon’s “conversion” reminds them, nothing is greater than God’s power of love and forgiveness, “For God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16).

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.

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