Matthew 5:16 exhorts Christians to "let your light...shine" in order to glorify God. For young people reared in suburban light pollution, the reference is less meaningful than in past times. Use simple light/dark crafts to help demonstrate the concept. While older children may be able to make the crafts themselves, younger children may need the assistance of an adult.
Young children can create a candle from a toilet tissue roll, white tissue wrapping paper and yellow pipe cleaners. Wrap a generous strip of wrapping tissue around the roll. Secure the edge of the paper with tape. Tuck the ends into the open ends of the roll. Bend a 4-inch length of pipe cleaner in half and stick the free ends into one end of the roll to serve as a flame. Show the children how they can hide their light by covering it but share it by uncovering it.
A paper lantern mimics the kerosene and oil lamps of old. Fold a sheet of construction paper in half lengthwise. Cut slits about 1 inch apart from the folded side to about 2 inches from the open edges. Open the sheet of paper and bend it into a cylinder -- short ends together and with the fold toward the outside. Secure with tape. Attach a 6-inch paper strip across the top of the cylinder to form a handle. Place an artificial candle inside. Explain that just as the lantern helps the candle's light shine more steadily, coming to learn about God at church helps our lights to shine better.
Turn a sheet of construction paper horizontally. Write the child's name in large letters, centered down the length of the page. Under the name, write "shines for Christ." Place the paper on a cork tile and use a brad or ice pick to outline the name, punching holes about every ½ inch. Remove the tile and bend the paper into a cylinder. Darken the room. Place a flashlight inside the cylinder to light the child's name from the inside. Remind the children that their actions turn their light on or off in the eyes of people who see them.
Cover paper towel tubes with striped paper. Attach a ball of crumpled yellow paper to the top of the tube. Attach the bottom to a base, such as a piece of cardboard. Decorate the cardboard to represent rocks. Remind the children that the light of a lighthouse shows the way to a safe passage into a harbor; their lights help to show others the way to the harbor of God's love.
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