Jesus Calms the Storm + Peter walks on Water
A Drama Workshop, or maybe a Storytelling Workshop!
Summary of Lesson Activities:
An interactive Drama/Storytelling workshop.
I COMBINED these two stories when I taught them to my kids. Unusual? Not really... because they are SO SIMILAR, and the SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS in them (that the Church has taught forever) are very much THE SAME:
Boat = Life or Church
Water/Wave/Wind = Dangers, trouble, fear, faithlessness
Disciples/Peter = O Ye of Little Faith!
Jesus = Makes the Save! He's not asleep and wont' let you sink.
Question = Is he a ghost? (Matt 14) Who is this man? (Matt 8)
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- Gather all needed props and costumes.
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
Open with a prayer.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
It's important to remind the kids that we have TWO different stories, but with extremely similar settings and meanings. In your Bible Study, make two columns and list the main things in each story. Both have a boat. Where is Jesus in the story? Both have danger. What kind? Jesus speaks to the disciples in both, what are the differences/similarities in what he says?
Matthew 8: Jesus is asleep in the boat and a storm arises, waves, Jesus calms it. Disciples say "who is this? ...that even the waves obey him?"
Matthew 14: Disciples rowing hard against waves, they see Jesus coming and (once again question 'who is this') say "it's a ghost!".
With younger kids, you can draw these story elements on paper and post them on the board, asking them to help you arrange them.
Now draw a THIRD COLUMN on your Bible Study Board.Title the third column "OTHER MEANING" (the metaphorical one). Go through the pieces of the story and ask "what could storms represent in YOUR life just like the disciples?" What's the boat represent? (the church, but some may know that!).... etc.
Now into the DRAMA...
We had prepared a cardboard boat with a cross-shaped mast and beam that had a sheet for a sail. Our mast was fastened to the ceiling so it wouldn't fall over. If you can't fasten to the ceiling, some heavy fishing line tied to three points on the wall can help you avoid a mast construction project
Sticking out from the boat, we had two rows of tables sitting on boxes (so they would be lower than the boat) covered with a blue tarp, and with about 3 feet in between them so Peter could have a place to sink. At the end of the table, we had a chair covered in blue cloth for Jesus to stand on (not tarp, too slippery for even Jesus). Yeah, we could have left off the tables, but the kids liked our "set". The blue plastic tarps made a nice storm racket too.
1. The first time you simply "block out" the story...positioning the main props and kids and directing them through the motions of the story...where to go as you read the two stories. They'll think this is it...the poor things.
2. Now you're going to go through it a second time. Bring out a big bag or box of props you've kept hidden. You've prepped some "waves" that represent different things, have a leaf blower, and prepped a super soaker (see the list below). Tell the kids that the point of these strange props is to discover the secret meaning for these two stories for us today.
In summary: The Disciples are in the boat which is the Church and we're trying to get somewhere, become something better, serve God, help more people, follow Jesus, enjoy our lives, --but there are storms/forces. We try to be brave like Jesus, but fail because we have weak faith. Jesus knows! ...and so Jesus saves. He can calm the storm and pull us up from sinking. And he encourages us. In short: "Trust Jesus to guide, to help, to calm, to save." Kids: You think because you can't see him he's ASLEEP!?? Jesus knows.
The Drama Presentation:
This is dynamic. You do this with notes not a script. In the first dry=run, it was 'dry'. You just blocked the story. Now you're going to assign props, have the props do their thing, and TALK TO THE PROPS!
You'll tell the two stories and begin to combine them (reminding the kids you are combining their images).
1. Pick a student to be Peter who has a great sense of humor (and who you approach ahead of time and ask them to 'help you by playing along') It has to be someone who doesn't mind getting wet. Getting wet is an essential part of this story!
2. Have a student be Jesus, and a student or two be on the boat. Throw some costumes at them. You'll need your other students to BE THE PROPS or manipulate them. If you don't have many kids, get some teens to help you fill in the roles.
Assign Roles and Props.
Give a prop/role to certain students and a notecard with some thoughts about their prop. Give 2 minutes to think about what their prop might mean in a "metaphorical" sense. And how their prop will act, and what their prop will TELL the other kids when YOU ask them to "explain themselves".
Leaf Blower... You are the winds in a person's life that tries to blow them off course, on the rocks. What does the wind not want you to do? Who is the wind at your school? What is the wind within you that makes your going tough?
Super Soaker...You are the scary stuff in a disciple's life trying to get them to lose faith. What things scare people? What makes them feel stupid and embarrassed about coming to church?....like they just got their face full of water? What Holds them back from reaching out to Jesus' hand? Keeps them from trusting God?
Blue tarps/Waves....You are the tough times in a person's life. You rock the person's boat and make them feel unsafe, mortal, like maybe they shouldn't take risks, risk being called names or thought of as "soft" or "uncool" for putting God first, or for going to church, or for doing what's right instead of what's popular.
Jesus' Hand on a Stick... you've taped a large glove on a long stick that Jesus can reach out with. How does God reach out to us? What are Jesus' hands in our lives? What do we have to 'grab onto' so we don't feel alone?
Boat Ladder... this can be as simple as a big knotted rope. How does the church welcome and help others get into its boat? What are some of the "knots" we can grip on when Jesus brings us here? This wasn't in the story, but tell them it's a new metaphor for how we in the church help others 'get' here.
Several Cups of Water... these were extra kids who needed props, so we quickly improvised, but as it turned out EVERYONE wants to toss water into Peter's face, and we had picked the right kids to take it! Before tossing the water at Peter, the kids had to come up with something to say that was "rude" about the church and why someone would want to go there (or be in that boat). "Stupid bunch of fairytales" ..."Fake people dressing up to impress others". "Boring". It was both fun and poignant because the kids started to feel sorry for the kids who were suffering all these slights.
WALK THROUGH THE STORY AGAIN, this time letting the PROPS DO THEIR THING, pausing and talking to them to ask "what they represent".
Now follow me....
When we got to the water I added a few 'WATER SLURS' of my own and splashed water not only at Peter, but at Jesus (he too was buffeted by waves) and at the disciples and the boat (pretty much everybody).... "church is stupid, Jesus is weak, he's not really God...etc etc.", then I grabbed the leaf blower and dried Peter and the disciples and suggested they go "another way" ...such as "the way of the world" ...I mean, why follow a religious guy when it is much more fun to be bad and do what you want. I blew some wind at the other kids too. But then I shifted to the idea of "God's Wind...God's Holy Spirit.... drying us, guiding us, moving us by an invisible presence. I had the kids on the boat raise their sail/sheet and we talked about how we can raise our sails as individuals or as a church to catch God's Wind. ...And what we can do to NOT catch that wind as well. The point was awesome.
The Drama's Last Scene:
We dropped our props and gathered in our "boat". I asked: What is scary in your life right now? Then I said "Jesus is calling us to take some risks...to come to him where it can be a bit tough. To stick our necks out for our faith. We walked into the 'waves' and I asked: What's SINKING your faith or your best intentions to be a good person? How could Jesus help you? How can we help each other? As I asked these questions, I reached out with my "Jesus Hand on a Stick". We talked about how we grab onto Jesus, knowing he's not here in body. I had them grab onto the hand and grab on to each other's hands (that's a good metaphor for the church) and I directed them back into the boat (the church!) The kids picked up on this very quickly.
I had always wanted to add a craft at the end of this lesson ...having the kids stuff a glove and tack it to a dowel rod and write "Jesus saves" on it.... a "take-home prop" they would have to explain to surprised parents. Wish I had!
And as I post this, I wonder how this could also be a "stations" drama where ALL the kids get wet. The Trustees and Church ladies love that.
End with a prayer.
Teaching Your Kids to See the Story as a SYMBOL... a metaphor for today, for life, for us.
You have to TEACH kids how to understand metaphors by "UNPACKING" metaphors with them. Read this Training Article here at our site for more about how to do that! You can do this by giving them simple examples, such as, "What is heat? ...But what would it mean if I said 'I'm putting heat on you to change?'". Concretely to them wind is moving air unless you reassign "wind" in their thinking as ALSO "a force in your life that tries to blow you in one direction or another". You parents are a wind. Your friends. God. And negative forces. But it depends on where you set your sails, which 'wind' you will let move you. (A good demonstration of this is a small sailboat in a pan of water).
Here's what I believe: Jesus did these miracles knowing they would have a lasting memory...that they would keep on teaching, that we would extract their meaning for our lives and the Church. (God is very clever.) That's exactly what our PROP DRAMA is going to do. They won't forget this lesson, and it's meaning will unfold as they grow.
I had a blast doing this lesson. Hope you do too.
A lesson written by Neil MacQueen.