Messy Church at Hartside Primary School, Crook turned out to be a very messy afternoon indeed. Children hands were swathed in blue and yellow paint and charcoal dust. The children from Key stage 1 (5-7 years) who came to the February Messy Church school programme were told the story of Jesus’ time and experience in the desert. According to the bible texts, after being baptised Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the Judean desert. During this time, Satan appeared to Jesus and tried to tempt him. Jesus, having refused each temptation, the devil then departed and Jesus is looked after by angels, later returning to Galilee.
After juice and biscuits the children searched the classroom for ten pieces of equipment they would pack into a backpack to survive 40 days and night in a desert e.g. tent, first aid kit, hat, knife, map, box of matches etc. During their craft sessions children made and considered Jesus’ experience in the desert and made:-
- Lent Crosses: Children cut out small crosses made out of sandpaper and were reminded of Jesus’ rough and hard time in the desert.
- Sackcloth Back: Small bags were made – sackcloth a symbol of mourning and penance. The sandpaper crosses were placed in the sackcloth bags.
- Snakes in the sand: Balls of icing were used to shape a snake – a reminder of the many snakes featured in the bible and in the desert.
- Handy Angels: Blue and yellow painted hand prints symbolised angels that cared for Jesus after his desert experience.
- Ash Wednesday Crosses: Charcoal finger prints to make crosses provided a conversation why ash is used on Ash Wednesday.
- Pretzel Prayers: The shape of a pretzel is like arms crossed in prayer – to remind us that God is closed wrapping his arms around us in love.
Following craft activities the story of Jesus’ time in the desert was retold to the children and their parents, followed by lively singing and relevant prayers. Through the Messy Church programme contacts are continually being made by the church to the local community.
The regular chapel Messy Church programme (C Club) continues after school, the first Friday of the month during school term time.