Monday, February 11, 2008

"Pirates' Journey to Easter Island" - An Ash Wednesday Children's Event

I've included some materials that some colleagues and I put together for a children's ministry day sponsored by the Deanery of Medway, the Anglican churches in NW Middlesex Country (Diocese of Huron). They are posted here in the hopes that others might be inspired to do something similar. Christian ministry should be about sharing whatever ideas work, and some of the ideas here worked, though I think in the afternoon we were making it up a bit as we went along and it would be nice to try this again some day.

What made the event work was the current craze for all things having to do with pirates. That gave us a theme to get the kids excited about, and we were able to use pirate life as a metaphor for the old life of sin that we are called out of by Christ (taking off the old, putting on the new, as illustrated in the Year A reading for Lent 1 from Romans 5).

Here's what it looked like - some pictures from my Facebook site.

Here's my introduction to the event, which I hope gives some idea of the theology behind it.

Good morning friends! It’s good to see so many of you here today. I know that you are from different churches. What churches are you all from? (answers)
I’m glad you’re all here today from all your different churches. Today is called “Pirates Jounrey to Easter Island”. So, who would like to be a pirate?
Being a pirate sounds like a pretty good time, doesn’t it? If you were a pirate, you could dress up in fancy clothes, like Captain Jack Swallow! You could say cool things, like “Arrrrr” and “Shiver me timbers”. You could have special pets, like a parrot on your shoulder, and you could train our parrot to say “pieces of eight!” If you went to Tim Hortons or Dairy Queen, you could pay with gold doubloons instead of with quarters and loonies. You could live on a desert island where there was no snow or winter. Yes, being a pirate sounds like a lot of fun!
But what are some other things that pirates do? Aren’t there some things that pirates do that aren’y nice? What’s something that pirates really like to get their hands on? That’s right, gold! (Hold up back of chocolate coins in foil wrappers). And where do pirates get their gold from? (children can answer). Sometimes from other pirates, or from other ships that they meet on the high seas. How would you feel if someone came along and took your gold from you? (Get an adult facilitator to come along and rob me of my gold coins) . “Hey, those were mine! That wasn’t very nice! I was saving those to take home and share with my family!”.
See, some of the things that pirates do aren’t so nice. What are some other things pirates do that aren’t so nice? (answers) Don’t they strand people on desert islands, or send them to Davey Jones’ Locker? Don’t pirates make people walk the plank? That’s not a nice thing to do to people, is it? What do pirates do with their gold? Do they share it with people who have less than they do? No, they keep it all to themselves and they bury it on far away desert islands, places so far away that they have to make treasure maps where X marks the spot! Do you think that a pirate would want you to find his treasure map? No, I don’t think so! And what sort of things do pirates carry around with them, tucked into their belts and boots? (answers) That’s right, things like swords and pistols and knives.
You know, now that I think about it, I don’t think pirates are such nice people after all! I’m not sure I’d like to meet any pirates! Well, maybe some nice pirates, but certainly not any mean pirates!
A few moments ago you told me you were here from different churches. Today we’re going to have some fun, but we’re also going to remember that we are from churches. We’re part of God’s family, and we are all followers of Jesus. So, now that we’ve thought about some of the things that pirates do, let me ask you this. What do you think Jesus would say about pirates? (answers)
Jesus talked about loving our neighbour as ourselves. That doesn’t sound very pirate-y does it? Not walk the plank-steal yer gold-send you to Davey Jones locker really bad pirate. And God, the Father of Jesus, gave us the Ten Commandments, which forbid us to kill and steal, among other things. God gave us these laws because God wants us to live in a certain way that is good for us and good for others.
Today is a special day in the church called Ash Wednesday. It’s a day when we sorry to God when we act like bad pirates and do things go against the way He wants us to live. It’s a day when we begin a long time called Lent, six weeks when we think about God and the way he wants us to live, as good pirates. Even when we’re bad pirates, when we do things that God doesn’t like (we call these things sins), we remember that Jesus died for us so he would take our sins away. The best thing about Lent is that it makes us look forward to Easter, which is in March this year. At Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and we are thankful that because of the love of Jesus we know that God loves us and forgives us.
So that’s what today is all about. We’re going to think about pirates, and we’re going to think about how God wants us to live. We’ll have fun, and we’ll look forward to Easter. We’ll have fun, and we’ll look forward to Easter and what Easter is all about. And we'll have fun being good pirates, being the pirates that God would want us to be!

Heather Brown, our deanery youth coordinator, wrote this terrific song. You can click on the image to get a large view.

There are some other items which I will add to this post if I can assemble them.


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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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