In the parable of the great banquet (Luke 14:15-24), Jesus tells of a man whose friends reject his invitation to a feast. In response, the man opens the invitation to everyone--"the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame"--just as God welcomes the poorest and most despised to his heavenly feast. Some simple activities can help bring the story to life for children.
Make Invitations to a Feast
For this activity, you will need paper, scissors, pens, pencils, crayons and other craft materials. Ask the children to name the people who suffer from hate and rejection today. Encourage them to think about their own experience and the wider world. Answers might include the poor, people of other races and religions, and victims of bullies in school. The children then make their own invitations, from scratch or from a template you provide, addressing them to the people Jesus would have invited.
Make a Banquet Wall Picture
With craft materials such as paper, scissors and crayons, make a giant wall picture of a feast. Each child can draw and cut out his favourite food. Then talk about what good things God gives people, such as love, peace, joy and forgiveness. You can tie this in with Paul's "fruit of the spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23). Write God's gifts on labels and stick them onto the banquet picture.
Read the Parable with Actions
The teacher or leader needs only a Bible for this activity. Read the parable and tell the children to act out each part as you speak. Go through all the actions in advance, or explain as you go through the story. For example, the children can imitate the servant announcing the invitation or form pairs to be the husband with his new bride. As the poor and lame, they can cheer when they receive the invitation and later pretend to eat a delicious feast.
Plan a Party
You can do this activity with just pens and paper. Each child can plan her own party, or everyone can be responsible for a different aspect of the party. Things to consider include what food and entertainment to have, but draw particular attention to the guest list and their aims for the party. For example, they want people to enjoy the food, make new friends and have fun with old friends. Relate these to what God wants them to enjoy about his feast, such as fellowship with Jesus, closeness to God and a feeling of joy and fulfilment.
Food Gift Exchange
You will need paper and pens and a small food gift, such as candies, for each child. On separate pieces of paper, write down each child's name. Everyone picks a name at random and chooses a food gift to give to that person, giving a positive reason why they think that child deserves the gift. Reasons may include "You're fun to hang out with" or "You're a good friend and always listen to me." Afterward, as the children enjoy their treats, compare their gifts and reasons with the gifts God gives.