People of the Way

Sunday School:  Sunday, August 26, 2012

All Sunday School children will gather with their parents in the nave for singing, before proceeding to classrooms to meet one another and to begin the year together.  Teachers, please join us in the nave so that parents can see who you are!  Our format this Sunday will be a bit different than in weeks to come (usually we’ll close with singing).  Plan for activities and discussions to take 30-40 minutes.

Scripture text:  Acts 2:37-47

Overview:  Acts of the Apostles describes early Christians as “people of the Way” (see Acts 9:2, 18:25-26).  They were people whose lives, through Jesus, became a common life.  Their life together was centered on and transformed by the gospel.  The people of the Way shared prayers, shared meals, and shared hope in Christ.  Take some time in this first Sunday School session to explore what it means that together, we, too belong to the Church, to the Way of Jesus.  Consider the gifts that each member of your Sunday School class brings to the community.  Give thanks for each person in your class.  Take time to talk and come to agreement about what behaviors belong (and what behaviors do not belong) inside this Christian community.

Objectives:

(1.)    Students will articulate ways that they belong to the body of Christ.

(2.)  Through their interactions today, students and teachers will form the groundwork for growing relationships with one another.

Play together: 

  • Walk the line:  The Bible speaks of God’s people as “pilgrims in the world,” people who are on a journey together, following Jesus into God’s kingdom.  Place a long piece of masking tape on the ground in your classroom.  Add in as many curves as you feel are appropriate for your class.  Explain to members of your class that the class is on a journey.  Each member of the group must walk the line “heel-toe”without falling off.  They can help one another, but if anyone falls off of the line, the whole group starts again.  (For older kids, use bandanas and blindfold half the group.)   Use this as an opportunity to consider the students’ habits of relating to one another.  Revisit this exercise as you map out the marks of this Christian community.
  • Chalk  drawing  (best suited for elementary -aged children):  Take your class outside to the parking lot and lie on the ground in a circle.  Take turns tracing everyone in the class on the ground in chalk, so that the outline of the whole group forms a circle.  Ask children in the class to pair up and to personalize the outlines of one another.  In each person’s outline, include words or sketches that allow a window into the interests and gifts of that person.  Then, on the inside of the circle, write words that characterize the shared life of this community.  On the outside of the circle, write words that describe behaviors that you do not want to be a part of your common life.   If you do this activity, let Wren know and she will come outside and take a picture of your chalk mural, so that you can refer to it later in the year.
  • Make a mobile:  Find instructions to make a mobile here or elsewhere on the internet.  Instead of tying stones to the mobile, have each student in your class decorate one side of a piece of paper in a way that represents their gifts and interests.  Take a photograph of each student in the class (Wren has a digital camera available, and can get photos printed for you).  Also add pieces of paper that describe the behaviors of members of your community.  Later, add each student’s photograph to their piece of paper on the mobile and hang it somewhere in the classroom.  (Yarn, hot glue guns, hole punches and other supplies are in the SS supply closet.)

Hear the word:  Read the Scripture passage out loud twice (read it in two different ways; perhaps have the children in your class take turns reading it line by line.)  Consider cutting up a copy of the text and giving it to students who can read.  Get them to order themselves in a line by verse, then go down the line to have them read it.  Be sure to help older elementary students find it in a Bible.  Younger classes may want to borrow one of the children’s Bibles that will be on display in the CE Commons.

Respond to the word:  Briefly discuss this early gathering of Christians.  What did they share?  (meals, resources, money, faith).  For youngest children, it will be sufficient to speak on a very basic level about how the people of God are people who share.  This is a good introduction into snacktime.  Encourage older students to discuss some of the following questions:  What do the members of your class share?  What do the members of the parish share?  What does the contemporary church share?  What don’t we share?  Why?  Speak about the shared behaviors that you may have identified in an activity above as a way to facilitate sharing important aspects of our common life.

Snacks will be available for you to pick up in the CE Commons to eat together at any time during the Sunday School hour.

Pray together:  One of our goals for Sunday School this year is for children to see prayer modeled every Sunday morning, and to be invited weekly to practice praying.  We hope that the children of our parish will grow increasingly comfortable praying at church and when they are alone.  Each class will pray together differently. Some ideas:

  • Young children participate well in short prayers in which they are invited to thank God for….(something specific), or to ask God to bless…(something/someone specific).
  • Consider closing each class together with the same prayer each week:  perhaps the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, Psalm 100 or another beloved psalm, or with a collect from the prayerbook.
  • Have each child write down one thing for which the class can pray or give thanks (perhaps one thing for each member of the class).  Have one or two people (students or teachers) offer all of those prayers.
  • Have the children in your class light a tea candle as they offer a prayer, as a way to visually symbolize the prayer offered.
  • “Hand stack”:  help kids stay focused during  prayer by having  one person place their hand in the middle of the group, then have everyone else in the family place one hand on top to create a “stack” of hands. The person whose hand is at the base of the stack goes first, praying a single sentence prayer as they pull out their hand out and place it on top of the “hand stack.” Then, the next person, whose hand is now on the bottom, prays as they pull their hand out and place it on top of the stack. When you sense it is time to stop, the adult (whose hand is on the bottom) raises up the pile of hands. That’s the signal for everyone to say “Amen!”
  • Prayer deck – Prepare a small stack of cards with each card displaying the name of a member of your class.  Shuffle the cards and get members of the class to draw a card.  Take turns praying for the people featured on the cards you receive.

Remind students that there is no SS next week, but that on Sept. 9th you will meet in your classrooms at 10:05.

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