To help pupils understand that just as we need to be made clean on the outside, so God wants us to be made ‘clean’ on the inside.
Mark 7:20-23 – ‘dirty’ on the inside.
You will need:
- 5 different brands of soap
- A ‘smellograph’ score chart on card Soap Smellograph pdf
- A copy of ‘Reasons why I never wash’ on Card (see Content below)
- 2 or 3 blindfolds
- A small prize (eg a bar of soap or sponge)
Prepare cards as suggested
1. Begin by saying that if you were to mention the word ‘soap’, many people would immediately think of Home and Away or Coronation Street, but actually, there is another meaning of the word! Soap is something we use to wash with!
At Christmas or for birthdays, one of the most popular gifts is soap. Comment that you are not sure what we are trying to say to our friends and relatives about their personal hygiene, but obviously, making ourselves and our loved ones clean and smelling nice is a favourite national pastime!
2. Explain that the very first soap was made in the Nile valley around 6000BC and carried by Phoenician seamen all around the Mediterranean coastline. Soap is actually a substance made by the action of alkali on fat. Most of us don’t care about that, we just want the right colour and fragrance.
1. Display the ‘smellograph’ score chart.
2. Explain that you are going to have a competition. Ask for two or three volunteers. Blindfold them and explain that they are going to have to smell five different brands of soaps (eg Dove, Palmolive, Imperial Leather, Fairy washing-up liquid, Ariel washing powder). To make it easier, you could tell them in advance the five brands they have to choose from. The winner will be the contestant who can recognise the most brands of soap correctly.
3. In turn, ask the contestants to smell the different soap brands one at a time. Record their verdicts on the ‘smellograph’.
4. When the contest is complete, take off the blindfolds, reveal the results and award the winning contestant a prize of a bar of soap, or a sponge!
Reasons why I never wash
Ask the pupils whether they think our national obsession with cleanliness is really necessary. Tell them that one young person didn’t think so. He gave these reasons for why he never washed (display the ‘Reasons why I never wash’ list on card):
- I was made to wash when I was little, but I got bored with it, so I stopped.
- None of my friends get washed. I’d look stupid if I started!
- I haven’t got the time.
- I still get washed on special occasions, like Christmas and Easter!
- The bathroom’s always too cold!
- Maybe when I’m older, I’ll start getting washed. I’ve got plenty of time.
- There are so many different brands of soap. How do you know which one to choose?
- People who wash are hypocrites – they reckon they’re cleaner than other people.
- People who make soap are only after your money!
- Point out how silly these reasons for not washing are. We all need to be clean. Life wouldn’t be anywhere near as pleasant if we all stopped washing!
- The Bible makes it clear that it’s not just on the outside that we need to be made clean. It talks about our wrong attitudes, actions and thoughts (called ‘sin’), which make us unclean and keep us separated from a holy, pure God. The Bible also talks about Jesus, who was born in a dirty stable, in a dirty world, and who wants to clean up people’s lives on the inside.
- Comment that it is interesting that people often give very similar reasons for saying ‘no’ to God, as the young person gave for saying ‘no’ to soap. Ask the pupils to look again at ‘The reasons why’ list, and try to replace the references to soap and bathrooms with God, the Church and being cleaned up on the inside.
- Conclude with a few moments of quiet for pupils to read through and think about ‘The reasons why’ list in the way you have suggested.