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Magda's Trouble

Children's Liturgy and Story
Call to Worship:
After he had been deep in prayer, Jesus was able to walk on the sea. In our worship today, let explore the relationship between prayer and God's response to us.

Invitation to Confession:
Jesus, sometimes I dismiss prayer as not working, yet I know I've never really prayed as you prayed.
Lord, have mercy.
Jesus, sometimes I can't believe in miracles, yet I know I've never really prayed as you prayed.
Christ, have mercy.
Jesus, sometimes I am so terrified that I forget to keep my eyes on you, yet I know I've never really prayed as you prayed.
Lord, have mercy.

Reading:
Matthew 14:22-33 (NRSV)

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. [23] And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, [24] but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. [25] And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. [27] But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

[28] Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." [29] He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. [30] But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" [32] When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."


Story:
Being a Christian doesn't prevent bad things happening to us. Christians suffer in life just like anyone else. But Christianity does give us the tools to deal with bad things when they happen. Peter was OK until he took his eyes off Jesus, and allowed his fear to have the upper hand. When he reached out again for Jesus, he was safe.

In this story, Magda finds herself "drowning" in fear, until she reaches out to Jesus. Then she's OK.

Magda's Trouble
The very worst day of Magda's life started just like any other day. She was bright and happy as she waved goodbye to her Mum and skipped into school. She met her best friend Jessie and they ran into class together.

Even the trouble started slowly and quietly. They were in the playground together, a little group of girls all crowded round Sandy who had brought her sister's diamond engagement ring to show them. Of course, Sandy shouldn't have touched her sister's engagement ring, but when she noticed that her sister had forgotten to put it on and had gone off to work without it, Sandy couldn't resist. She longed to display the ring to all her friends at school.

The ring really was beautiful. It sparkled and glowed in the sunshine and sent little rainbows darting out from the diamond. Magda thought she had never seen anything so gorgeous in all her life.

"Can I try it on?" she pleaded.

Sandy was hesitant. "Better not. What if something happens?"

"What could possibly happen? Go on, just for a second. Do let me try it."

"Well, OK, but be careful."

Magda slipped the ring onto her middle finger. It was quite loose even on that finger, but she turned her hand this way and that, admiring the ring.

Then she began to fly her hand through the air. "Look! It's like a butterfly! See the butterfly fluttering in the air?"

All the girls began to clap and cheer her on. Magda swooped her arm down and up, high and low, to this side and that side. She didn't even hear Sandy's anguished cries. But when she stopped, laughing and exhilarated and ready to return the ring, to her horror she saw that it had disappeared.

"Where is it?" she cried. "What's happened?"

"You fool!" groaned Sandy. "Now you've lost it. What am I going to do?" And she began to wail loudly.

Magda was suddenly desperately anxious and that made her irritable. "Oh shut up!" she shouted. "It can't have gone far. We'll soon find it!"

The girls began to search, but they couldn't find the ring. When their break ended, Magda was in tears. Sandy told her that she would have to pay for the ring and that it cost over a thousand pounds. Magda gulped. She couldn't begin to imagine what her father would say. Then she began to wonder whether she would be arrested. Perhaps losing the ring was the same as stealing it.

Magda felt cold fear wash over her. She wished she'd never seen the ring. She wished she'd never insisted on trying it on. She wished she'd never started showing off with it. She was in despair. She didn't know what to do. Then she thought of Jesus and silently begged for his help.

"What's the matter with you girls?" asked their teacher, noting their worried faces. Magda cringed, but she knew she would have to own up. She told the teacher the whole sad story, watching as the teacher's lips hardened and a frown appeared on her brow.

The teacher made the whole class go out to search for the ring. She organised them into a long line, and made the children search every blade of grass, but the ring remained hidden. Magda felt terror beginning to overwhelm her. She thought she might die of fright. She wondered why Jesus had let her down. Surely he could have found the ring for them?

But Magda had nowhere else to turn, so she clung onto Jesus silently pleading with him to help.

The teacher ushered them all back indoors and called for the Head. He was furious with them all, but especially with Magda and Sandy. Then he turned on his heel and marched out. Magda's spirits stayed slumped in her boots.

Magda suffered for the whole day. She couldn't eat. She couldn't work. She could't think of anything but the ring and her parents' reaction when they heard.

But at the end of the day, just as they were packing up ready to go home, the Head came back into the room. He opened his hand. "Is this the ring?"

Magda felt relief wash over her like a tidal wave. "How did you find it, Sir?" she cried.

"It's a good job I have a metal detector," answered the Head. "The ring had fallen some way from where you were searching. It must have flown off when you were acting so stupidly, Magda. And as for you, Sandy," he added, "I hope you've now learned never to take anything that doesn't belong to you, even to borrow it."

Magda and Sandy both nodded, sheepishly. But Magda remembered to say "Thank you" to Jesus, because she realised that miracles do still happen, even for people who really don't deserve them.


Activity:
You need:
A tray of sand
Candles and matches

Tell the children today's gospel story in your own words and get them to act out the story. Ask them whether there have been any times in their own lives when they've been really frightened and ask them how their fears were resolved.

Talk about prayer and ask them whether they think prayer works. Take their answers seriously and discuss with them why prayer might not seem to work at times (the answer may not be what they expect, may be later than they expect, they may not identify the answer, etc.)

Talk about meditative prayer - resting in God's presence. Give them each a candle and help each of them to light their candle and stick it in the sand. Encourage them to focus on the candle flame and allow God to fill their hearts and minds. There may be a common problem which you could all pray about together, or there may be someone who is sick who needs all your prayers.

Remember to pick up on this next week, asking the children whether their prayer had any effect.


Prayers:

God of strength and support, when we in the church are hit by storms, help us to keep our eyes upon you. Remind us that those who refuse to get out of the boat can't walk on water and that you are there to help us when the waves become overwhelming.

God of strength and support, we pray for all those in positions of authority who dare to raise their heads above the parapet. When they are shot at verbally or physically, may they be strong in their response.
God of strength and support, give us the courage to take risks. May we be so steeped in prayer that we know the right course of action and may we stick to that action even when it's unbearably scary and lonely.
God of strength and support, be with all who are sick and who need your healing power. We name them before you ...

Blessing:
May you be so close to God in prayer
that you are able to take the risks
that God is calling you to take.
And may the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Be with you, be in your homes
And in your families,
With those whom you love
And with those for whom you pray,
Both now and always. Amen.


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Reader B:

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