Prisoner Sunday and New Beginnings
Sunday 17th November
Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18
In our Sunday School we use November to prepare for Advent. The 17th is Prisoner’s Sunday, the first day of ‘Prison Week’ a time where we think about and pray for prisoners, their families and the victims of crime.
On Thursday this week it was Islamic New Year. For Muslims around the world, New Year symbolises renewal or rebirth. So the New Year is observed on the first day of Muharrum, the first month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar (based on the moon). The New Year for the Muslim community starts by seeing the moon. As a part of the celebration people buy clothes, clean the house and cook the traditional dishes. New Year is the time for special prayers so that the coming year brings joy, good luck, good health and happiness.
In only a few weeks we’ll be celebrating the start of the church’s year (Advent, Dec 2nd).
While we will look forward to Christmas and all this special festival brings, Advent is also a time of New Beginnings. We should use Advent as a time to do some spiritual spring cleaning and prepare ourselves for Christmas and the new church year.
Today in church they are thinking about prison and prisoners.
Some people will be in prison because of bad things they have done. Others may be in prison because of where they are in the world and they have spoken out against bad things they see others doing.
Yet other people may be free to move about but feel imprisoned by fear, hate injustice, frustration, anger, addiction, depression or disability.
This verse is Jesus reading from Isaiah (61:1) at a synagogue over 2000 years ago and reminds us that we must not forget those who remain behind bars, whatever those bars are made of.
Ask the children to think about how we act, speak and are around others (e.g. our friends, families, at school etc.)
- Tell lies to get ourselves out of a situation?
- Borrow things without asking?
- Answer back?
- Not pay attention?
- Not offer help when we could?
- Not do things we promised to do or do things we promised we would not do.
By not behaving as Jesus commands, we are in prison to His way. The way to heaven is often described as narrow, and difficult. We find ourselves tempted on all sides to do and say things we know are wrong but if we follow Jesus we find that He is the Way, the Truth and the Light and that will be a wonderful New Beginning.
You will need…
– Fold a sheet of A4 paper in half.
– On one side write all the things that make you feel guilty (lying, cheating etc).
– Out of another piece of paper cut out a ‘prison window’ or bars and stick it down so it covers the writing on the page. Those feelings are now ‘in prison’.
– On the other side write ‘He sent me to set prisoners free’ (Luke 4:18). Here write all the things you would like to feel or be (honest, faithful, stress free, honest etc).
– If you have some coloured stickers or felt pens you can decorate this side of the paper to make it more attractive.
The finished craft can be taken home and will remind the children of how their bad behaviour doesn’t have to hold them prisoner and see all the positive things they and Jesus want for themselves.
Not all prisons are made of bars, sometimes our own actions can hold us prisoner, we should pray that Jesus sets us free. This week we should remember prisoners in our prayers and also their families and the victims, all of whom suffer because of crime.
No wordsearch this week, we put one in the bulletin instead. Once my camera’s fixed we’ll start putting up pictures of some crafts to give you a better idea of what they look like 🙂