Aside from the story of the Magi (from Matthew), and the story of Jesus teaching in the temple, we don’t know very much about Jesus’ early life. Even those stories we do have are vague, hardly satisfying our journalistic desire for details and interesting stories. The story of Jesus teaching in the temple happens well before Jesus’ public ministry. Even then, we are already starting to see Jesus’ identity as a prophet and teacher. We also get a glimpse, albeit a vague one, of Jesus’ relationship with his family. Children may be interested in thinking about Jesus as a child just like them. It is a time when we can emphasize that Jesus was a real human: a living, breathing, growing, and learning person with a family and experiences ( most of which we know little to nothing about). It might be interesting to wonder why this is. Why did the Gospel writers not think to say much of Jesus’ early life? Why is this story one of the only one’s we have? Is it that important? What does this story say about Jesus and the other stories might not say? Did Jesus already know who he was and what that meant?
Hear the Story
Our story today may be found in Luke 2:41-52. Since it is a pretty short story, it’s an ideal one to share from a real Bible rather than one of the storybook Bibles.
Respond to the Story
Every once in a while, it is good to offer open-ended response opportunities to your students. It encourages them to identify something about the story that stands out to them, something that they find important. If none of the ideas below stand out to you, use the resources on the Hearing and Responding to Stories page to generate ideas.
Open-ended response: Choose one or two of the response types below, then set up your classroom space. After you share the story, tell your students that they can respond to the story at one of the stations. Allow students to work independently, and check in as their work progresses. Encourage them and help them if they get stuck by asking questions. You may want to ask them about the content by saying something like, “tell me about your picture here.” Keep all of the art at the end of the class so that we can hang them up. The biggest prep for this is the way you lay out materials, so think about items that you know are in the supply closet, and how they might encourage open-ended exploration.
1. Body Response: For this station, set out costumes, and objects that represent materials from the story and encourage your students to act out the story together. It might be especially helpful to ask them about the different characters in the story and how they reacted–How did Mary and Joseph respond to Jesus’ answer that he was doing his Father’s work? What story from the Old Testament might Jesus have been responding to?
Alternatively, they can tell the story to each other and come up with body gestures (every time someone says Scribes or teachers, everyone takes a particular body posture).
2. Artistic Response: Provide blank pieces of paper, a variety of materials, and something like paint or colored pencils. Ask them to think about the part of the story that is most important to them. Then, invite students to create an artistic depiction of that part of the story.
3. 3-D Artistic Response: Offer play-doh or modeling clay from the supply closet. Cover the tables with brown craft paper and allow them to work with an image or theme from the story that was important to them. Ask questions and offer a listening ear as they work.
4. Written Response: For this response, provide writing materials and a couple of prompts to choose from. Encourage students to illustrate their writings. Here are some suggested prompts:
What part of the story is most important and why?
If you could change one or more things about the story, what would it be and why?
If you were asked to tell this story to someone, how would you tell it?
Ask your students to help you clean up the space before snack and closing in prayer.