Parables were one of Jesus’ preferred ways of teaching and sharing the news of the Kingdom of God. They are useful because they employ images that were familiar to the people, but they also spoke to deeper realities as metaphors for what the kingdom of God was like and who Jesus was. In the coming weeks we will continue to explore who Jesus is for using this image. Remember to look at the journal prompts at the end of the lesson.
(1.) Children will work with the image of the sheep and shepherd and describe their relationship.
(2.) Over the season of Lent, children will come to see Jesus as the Good Shepherd whose very life is given for the sheep.
Remind your class that we are observing the season of Lent. If you have selected a discipline for the season, work on that for a bit before moving into the lesson.
Hear the Word
This parable is shared by Jesus in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:1-7. The context for each is slightly different. The Lukan version has more details about the shepherd and sheep, but older children may like to read and compare both accounts. This parable is well reported in our children’s Bibles; I will lay out several Bibles and children’s stories about the Lost Sheep on Sunday morning. After reading (or telling) the story t0 your class, you might like to share this short video (it’s about 2.5 minutes) with them on an ipad.
Respond to the Word
(1.) Searching for Lost Sheep: Before your class arrives hide a white pom-pom somewhere in your class. While you tell your class the parable of the lost sheep, lay the remaining 99 pom-poms out on the floor. When you are finished, tell your class that you have 100 sheep to count together (our youngest children may need help counting to 100, but most may be able to count to ten, so if 100 is too big, count 10 sets of 10 together). When you get to 99, your class will realize that there is a sheep missing. Start to look around and when you can’t find it, have your class help you find the 100th sheep somewhere in the classroom. Talk about how you left all of the other sheep so that you could find the one sheep that you were missing. Alternatively, you may want to hide 99 pom-poms in your class and then count them up.
(2.) Drawing 100: Divide your class into two teams. Give them a poster size piece of paper and some crayons or markers. Tell them that they are going to race to find all 100 sheep in their sheepfold by drawing 100 of them together. The first team to draw all 100 sheep has filled their sheepfold. When both teams have completed their posters, you can write one of he verses from your reading on top of the poster. If you do this, let me know and I can put it up in your classroom or the commons next Sunday.
(3.) Sheep for hiding: If you are interested in an art activity, you may want to make model sheep like this, this, or this (take a look at the last sheep on this post). Encourage your students to take their sheep home and ask their parent’s to hide it so that they can search for it, like the shepherd who has lost his special sheep. If you do this, please let me know and I can write a brief letter for parents and print it out for you to send home with your students.
(4.) Active Games:
Hide and Go Sheep: Select one of your students to play shepherd,while the remainder of your class wanders and hides from him/her. The shepherd looks for each of the sheep and takes them to a designated sheepfold. When all of the sheep have been found, the game can start over with a different shepherd.
Sheepfold (like Sardines) Choose one student in your class to hide in the sheepfold. All of the other students look for the other student. Without a word, as each child finds the sheepfold, they join until the last sheep has found the sheepfold. (you may have success playing this game outside).
“Where are my Sheep?” (like Marco Polo): Choose one child to play the shepherd. Blind fold them and spin them around. The shepherd asks, “Where are my sheep?” and each time the other children should say “baaa.” Each sheep the shepherd tags is out and must go sit in the sheepfold.
Journal– Younger children may want to draw a scene or a sheep from our lesson today. Older children may want to write a reflection about the lesson using the prompt “Why does the shepherd leave the 99 to find his/her one missing sheep?” or “I wonder who the sheep could really be?” or “Describe the party that that the shepherd throws for the sheep” or “would you leave the 99 sheep to find one?” etc. The goal of the journals is for each child to have a record of their Lenten reflections. Older children may enjoy reflecting without a specific prompt. You might ask: “What was important or significant to you about today’s story” or “what would you like to remember from today’s lesson?” If you use one of the prayers below from the BCP, your students might like to copy them into their books.
Close in Prayer– This week your students may enjoy this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer.
Paragraph 3 of the Venite (Psalm 95:6-7) found on p.32 reads: “Come let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh that today you would hearken to his voice!”