During Children’s Liturgy last week, a few of our children heard the story of Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. After the story, our homilist wondered: “I wonder what living water could really be…” and “I wonder if you have ever come close to living water.” Having planned two weeks during which our young people worked with the story of baptism, I thought our conversation about living water might be straightforward. Instead, we had a lovely conversation about what living water might be (movement, bubbling, flowing). In fact, it took a good five minutes before our own practices of baptism were mentioned.
When Jesus meet the woman at the well, it is unclear what it is that he is offering her. What kind of water lasts a lifetime? Listening to our children work with this story last week was lovely. As you work with our children this week, listen closely and be astonished. Their own working out of the significance and meaning of this story, Jesus’ gift to the woman, and the meaning of living water might challenge or stretch our own quick interpretations and answers. I thought I had it all figured out, but there was more and I would have missed it. Remember to share wonderful stories with me. Where is God working in your classes, activities, and sharing?
(1.) To hear the story of Jesus who crosses boundaries to be with people that God loves.
(2.) To explore the living water that Jesus offers.
Hear the Word
You can read that story about the Woman at the Well from John 4:1-15. Many of our children’s Bibles leave this story out (perhaps because of the circumstances of the woman’s life). If you are interested in sharing this story in a different way, try memorizing most of the story (instead of focusing on a word-for-word memorization, you may want to focus on the movements of the passage). Because this story is pretty well known, you may want to ask your older students (2nd grade-5th grade) to share what they know about the story first. Then, read the story together and talk about details that weren’t mentioned in the retelling.
Respond to the Word
(1.) Build a well Together. Spend some time looking at images of wells with your class. You can find images of wells (here, here, here, here, and the icon image above). Talk about the function of wells and how important they would have been (People cannot survive without water). Using the cardboard bricks for Vacation Church School (i,n the supply closet near the nursery), have your class make a well or several wells (of different shapes) together. Talk about the water that Jesus offers in the text. How is this water different? How would it be possible to drink from it and never thirst again?
(2.) Water bucket relay: Gather different size containers and sponges (you can get a spoon, bowl, and cup from the kitchen upstairs, and sponges from the supply closet near the nursery). Divide your class into two teams (more if needed) and set up two buckets for each team (from the supply closet near the nursery). Fill two of the buckets and have your class use the various objects to transfer water from one bucket to another. The first team to fill their bucket wins. We are supposed to have wonderful weather this weekend, so feel free to take your class outside for this messy activity. Talk about how we run out of water, but Jesus offers the woman at the well water that wont run out. Ask them to share what that means to them.
If you would like a different option (or you would like to play two similar games), you may like Bucket Brigade, the living water game.
(3.) Coloring pages: We have done a lot of reflecting lately. Perhaps, you prefer to have conversations about the stories while having your class color this coloring page. This work sheet is another option.
(4.) Investigating Jesus: At the beginning of our story, Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. Her response–why are you a Jew asking me a Samaritan for water?–shows that this is an unusual, unexpected, even taboo request. With your class explore some of the things Jesus did that are unexpected. You might begin with this story. Why was it strange for a Samaritan and a Jew or a man and a woman to speak together in this context? (Here’s some background on the rift between Jews and Samaritans. In short, there is deep seated suspicion rooted in a history of conflict between the two). You might talk about how Jesus crossed social boundaries because he loved everyone enough to challenge the ways that people were divided. This, the Samaritan woman at the well, is another example of this. What does this story (and others like it) tell us about Jesus? What does this tell us about the character of God?
(5.) Make Music: If you are musically inclined, you might like to teach this song to your class.
(6.) Revisiting Baptism: Understanding baptism as living water Feel free to use some of the same materials you used to explore the baptism stories with your class–fingerpaints, watercolors, construction paper in the shape of wells or water drops–to explore the meaning of living water.
Close in Prayer