Try these activities and see if you can start guessing what might happen in our story today. If you can’t get exactly these materials, just see what you can find around the house instead!
1. Build a bridge
You will need: something to make a bridge out of – you could use dried spaghetti and mini marshmallows, or cocktail sticks and soaked dried peas, or rolled-up newspaper sheets and sticky tape, or planks of wood and rope
Challenge everyone to make a bridge between one spot and another.
Talk about the way a bridge can be a symbol of bringing two sides together when something divides them. What sort of things divide people? Some people see Jesus as a bridge – what do you think they mean?
2. Peace cranes
You will need: paper squares
In Japan, children write their prayers and hopes for peace on paper cranes they have made. This is the story behind this tradition: Sadako was a young Japanese girl, badly affected by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. She was taken to hospital for treatment. The nurses encouraged her and the other children to accept the medicines by folding for them origami figures out of small square medicine wrappers. Sadako’s favourite was the crane. An old Japanese legend stated that anyone who faithfully folded 1,000 cranes would have her wish fulfilled.
Sadako began folding cranes and her wish was, of course, that she would recover. However, when she sensed that she was not going to get better from the effects of the radiation, she changed her wish and prayed instead for peace between the countries of the world. With every crane that she folded, she whispered, ‘I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.’ She had folded 664 cranes when sadly she died. The children of Japan learned of Sadako’s wish and they too began folding cranes.
Every year on Hiroshima Day (6 August), you can see thousands of paper cranes suspended from the tower in Hiroshima Peace Park.
Talk about why you think it is so hard for people in the world to be at peace with one another.
3 An oil and water experiment
You will need: cooking oil; water; food colouring; washing-up liquid; plastic bottle
Try mixing oil and water. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a bottle. Fill it up about half full of water. Add a drop or two of food colouring. Put the lid on tightly and shake until you think it’s well mixed. Let it settle.
What happens? It just separates again into oil and water! What happens if you add a few drops of washing-up liquid? The washing-up liquid reacts with both oil and water to form an emulsion – it joins them together (very useful when you’re washing your hands with soap and water to get rid of dirt).
Opposites can be brought together if something else is added that reacts with both.
Talk about how, when people quickly take sides and refuse to come together to solve their differences, Christians are called, like Jesus, to be peacemakers who break down those differences and bring people together again. How easy do you find it to be a peacemaker?
4 No one should bite each other!
You will need: a copy of this West African symbol; pens; paper
Draw the outline of the symbol BI-NKA-BI for peace and harmony (it means ‘no one should bite each other’!) on your paper, as large as you can. Fill it with either different patterns or different words, or you could fill it with patterns of doves and other symbols of peace.
Talk about the people you know who are good at bringing peace, at helping stop arguments, at helping people make friends again. How do they do it?
Paul wrote in a letter to the Christians in Corinth: ‘God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace’ (2 Corinthians 5:19, CEV). Who can learn this verse off by heart?
As a family, on a piece of paper, draw or write people, groups, countries or ideologies on one side of the paper, with the people, group, country or ideology that is in most conflict with them on the other side.
When you have drawn or written enough, ask someone to draw a cross with the cross-arm stretching out from the list on one side of the paper to the list on the other.
Read the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:19 (above) and talk about what it might mean in the different situations you’ve listed. Ask everyone to think of one way you can ‘share his message about peace’ this week.
There is a recognised international prayer for peace. It is written out below with some suggested simple actions to accompany the words. These should help everyone to remember it.
…from death to life (hands crossed over body and then hands raised above the head)
… from falsehood to truth (one hand close to the mouth, suggesting a malicious whisper, and then both hands with thumbs up next to the mouth suggesting the truth)
… from despair to hope (one hand on the forehead in despair and then the same hand shading the eyes, looking out to the future in hope)
… from fear to trust (two hands by the mouth expressing terror and then both hands open in front of the body expressing trust)
… from hate to love (one hand raised as a fist and then two hands over the heart)
… from war to peace. (one hand shaped like a gun and then two hands linked by the thumbs, palms inward, creating a dove of peace)
Let peace fill…
…our heart (the hands still as the dove of peace near to the heart)
… our world (hands as the dove of peace making a small circle away from the heart)
… our universe. (hands as a dove of peace making a much larger circle away from the body)
Did you know that the Messy Grace comes from the same letter in the Bible as the verse about peace does? ‘May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with [us] all.’ (2 Corinthians 13:14, NIV)?