Activity 3: Story - Jesus Feeds the Multitude
Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Copy of the story, "Jesus Feeds the Multitude"
- Copy of the story, "Jesus and the Loaves and Fishes - A UU Telling"
- Optional: Fidget basket (see Session 1, Leader Resource 2, Fidget Objects)
Preparation for Activity
- Print both stories. One comes from Christian scripture and the other is a retelling by 20th-century Unitarian religious educator Sophia Lyon Fahs.
- Based on the amount of time you have and which discussion questions you think will work best with this group, decide whether to share one or or both stories with the children. Familiarize yourself with the story(ies) you will read or tell and decide which questions you will ask the group.
- Optional: If you have a basket of fidget objects for children who will listen and learn more effectively with something in their hands, make the basket available during storytelling. See Session 1, Leader Resource 2, Fidget Objects for a full description of fidget baskets and guidance for using them.
Description of Activity
Participants respond to wisdom from Christian tradition about sharing.
Read the story "Jesus Feeds the Multitude."
- If Jesus had the ability to work miracles, do you think he could have simply produced tables full of food for the crowd? But instead, he told the disciples that they should feed the crowd. When the disciples objected, he asked them for whatever food they could produce, blessed it, and passed it back to the disciples to pass out to the crowd. Why do you think he did this? Do you think Jesus was trying to teach the disciples a lesson in sharing? What might that lesson be?
One of our Unitarian Universalist teachers, Sophia Lyon Fahs, had a different way of telling this story.
Read the story "Jesus and the Loaves and Fishes - A UU Telling."
- What was shared in the story this time?
- How was it shared?
- When the people heard Jesus thanking God for the little food shared by the boy, they offered to share, too. Why do you think they shared?
- What is the same in both stories? [Jesus showed that, because of sharing, there would be enough for everyone.]
- What was different? [The first story does not explain where the extra provisions came from; it seems magical. The second story explains that people shared with one another to make sure there was enough for all. / The first story shows that sharing is important. The second story shows how when people have a chance to share, we can make sure everyone has enough.]
- Was anything else shared, besides food? [Point out that the people gathered in order to learn from Jesus. Ask: What is he sharing? Is Jesus' sharing of stories and what he has learned about life and the sharing of a meal similar to what we do at our congregation?
The first story comes from the Bible. In Christian scripture, there are many stories where Jesus performs a miracle. He does something that people cannot explain, like making food appear. Miracles are like magic. Some people believe these stories are literally true. But most Unitarian Universalists do not believe Jesus performed supernatural miracles. Whether or not you believe that Jesus performed miracles, we can still believe the stories told about Jesus have wisdom for us. Either way, this story about Jesus has good wisdom about sharing.
Conclude in these words, or your own:
There are many stories in the Bible where people share meals. Another famous story about Jesus is the Last Supper. This is a meal he shared with the disciples before he died. The Last Supper is the meal that Christian churches associate with the Holy Communion we mentioned earlier. During Holy Communion, participants eat a wafer and drink wine or juice. These are symbols of Jesus' body and blood, which Christians believe he sacrificed to save humankind. Our UU flower, water, and bread ceremonies are not about remembering Jesus, but are about the things that are important to us as UUs: community, diversity, appreciating nature, remembering our families and honoring our different cultures. Our Unitarian and Universalist ancestors were Christian and some UUs today are Christian. We have Christianity to thank for the tradition of a communion, but we have created ceremonies that reflect what we love and hold dear today.
Who do you share food with? Family members? Kids at school during lunch? People you don't even know, by donating or serving food at a food pantry? How does our congregation share food?
Including All Participants
You may wish to make fidget objects available to children who find it difficult to sit still while listening or can focus better with sensory stimulation. For a full description and guidance, see Session 1, Leader Resource 2.
Consider using rug squares in the storytelling area. Place them in a semi-circle with the rule "One person per square." This can be very helpful for controlling active bodies.