Gather: Take time to check in with the children in your class as they gather. Younger classes may want to offer kids a coloring sheet as they filter in. (Let me know if I can print this for you.)
Introduction: Jesus spoke and lived God’s truth in surprising ways. The beatitudes, Jesus’ teachings about those who are blessed by God, are jolting, confusing, surprising. They’re like riddles that we turn over again and again in our minds. Take time to turn these beatitudes over in your minds and hearts. As you think about what it means to be blessed by God, reflect on the ways that Jesus embodies each of the beatitudes. We often read them, eager to imagine how we are or are not poor in spirit, hungry for righteousness (etc). But, how does Jesus show us what poverty of spirit looks like? How does Jesus exemplify a hunger and thirst for righteousness? How does God’s spirit living within us move us towards these blessed ways of life?
Hear the Word: Read Matthew 5:1-12
(In the Children of God Storybook Bible, the related story is called, “Jesus Teaches the Secret of Happiness”)
Our youngest classes may want to accompany the story with Heidi Bratton’s “Rejoice! Jesus Welcomes me!”
(1.) Children will be able to paraphrase one or more of the beatitudes. (e.g – “Jesus says that people who work for peace will be called God’s children.”)
(2.) Children will use the beatitudes to write or say prayers for themselves, for the Church, or for the world.
Respond to the Word (Activities):
(1.) What does it mean to be blessed? Invite children to think about how we use the words “bless,” and “blessing.” What does it mean to receive a blessing? What do we mean when we ask God to bless someone or something? When a priest offers a blessing, why does she make the sign of the cross?
“Blessing” carries a connotation of being made holy; to be close to God, and also, to be happy. How are those things related?
(2.) Pass the basket: (Email me and I can put a CD player in your classroom.) You will have written each of the Beatitudes on a slip of paper. Fold the slips containing the Beatitudes and place in a basket. It is okay to repeat a Beatitude.
- With the children sitting down in a circle, begin playing music and have the children to pass the basket. You will pause/stop the music. When the music stops the child holding the basket must take out a slip and read the Beatitude. (If the children cannot read well, assist them).
- Talk about what the Beatitude means to them. Other children can help. Adults may need to provide guidance by sharing what the Beatitude means to you.
- When the slips have all been read the game is over.
(3.) Beatitude Handprints / Footprints: Ask each child to choose a beatitude to reflect on. On the top and bottom of a sheet of paper, invite the child to articulate a prayer using one of the beatitudes (eg – “God, use my hands in the good work of making peace.” Or, “God, comfort me when I mourn and use me to comfort others.” Use fingerpaint to make handprints or footprints in the middle of the sheet of paper.
(4.) Beatitude Stones: Gather stones from the supply closet, and invite each child to write a beatitude (or two or three) on the stone. There may only be room for a few words like “peace makers” on one side and “God’s children” on the other. Divide the kids into two teams and go outside. Take buckets (I’ve got a bunch) and fill them with water. Invite the kids to grab a stone or two and line up, then say their beatitude and try to toss their stone into the bucket of water. You could make it into a game/contest, or just do it as a large group.
(5.) Reflect on Art:
Over the centuries, all sorts of artists have worked to depict the challenge and promise of God’s blessings in the beatitudes.
- Cornelis Monsma
- Beatitudes: Four Trees (15th C Flemish) and Four More
- The Eight Beatitudes (scroll down to see the image)
- Ben Shahn (woodcut)
- St. John’s Bible
Share with the kids some of this art (and let me know if we should arrange a way to share this with computer / projector, I might be able to help with technology), and ask them to answer a few questions:
(a.) What do you like about this piece of artwork?
(b.) How does it represent the beatitude?
(c.) What seems strange about this piece of artwork? Or, what don’t you like?
(d.) If you were making art to represent this beatitudes, what would you do differently?
Kids may want to illustrate of a beatitude of their own.
(6.) Beatitude towers: Divide kids into pairs and give them a popsicle stick for every beatitude. Ask them to write them all down, then give them tape, glue, etc and invite them to make a tower or house or church out of their beatitude sticks. See what kind of various structures the pairs come up with.
Instead of music this week, we invite you to bring your class to the Parish Hall to enjoy a treat and to say ‘goodbye’ to me sometime 10:35 or after. (Not sure if the youngest class will want to go up — teachers, feel free to decide whether or not they should make that transition.) If kids want to write or illustrate a beatitude prayer for me, that would be an amazing parting gift.
Close in Prayer