- When the children are gathered, ask them to sit comfortably. Ensure that they sit in a cross-legged position. Ask them to listen to their breathing: in . . . out, in . . . out.
When they are calm and relaxed, light the candle. Run through the things they have to think about when they use matches and have a fire:
Take care to keep an eye on the candle.
Make sure the burning match is extinguished carefully, and then placed in a fireproof bin, etc.
- What can happen if we don’t remember the rules about fires and matches?
When the children have answered, show them the pictures of the Australian bushfires. Ask if anyone knows where the pictures have come from?
In Australia, in the area where the pictures were taken, there has been a drought for 10 years. (Check the children know the meaning of ‘drought’.)
Many of the trees in this area are called eucalyptus trees. These trees produce leaves that contain lots of oil, which we use for medicines. In the autumn, when the leaves fall off the trees, they drop to the ground, still containing lots of oil. That oil contains lots of energy: each dead leaf can catch quickly and burn fiercely, like a small explosion.
So the fires under the trees have spread very quickly because there was 10 years’ worth of leaves to burn on the forest floor.
Sadly, many people have lost their homes. Animals that live in the forest – the bush – have also died. Now we know that lots of people have also died because they didn’t realize how fast the fires were moving.
Ask the children to look at the candle flame.
What good things does fire bring with it?
And what bad things can a fire do?
Read Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.’
Perhaps the person who wrote these words was scared that he might die or, perhaps, someone he loved had died, and he was very upset and sad.
The people of Australia are also sad at the deaths and hurt caused by the fires.
Let’s be quiet and ask God to come close to these people today.
(Repeat the reading.)
(Suggest the children look at the flame during the prayer.)
be with those caught up in the Australian bushfires,
those who have lost their homes,
those who have lost their possessions,
those who have lost a friend or a relative to the fires.
May they know that you are close,
may you comfort them,
and may they trust in your love to hold them at this time.
(Blow out the candle.)
And may the firefighters be able to extinguish the fires safely and soon.