Jesus our Savior: The Risen Lord on the Road to Emmaus

Icon of the Road to Emmaus

Introduction

This year, we have continuously asked the question: Who is God in Christ? What does Jesus tell us about who God is and what God wants from and for us? Who is God for us? You may have answered this question in hundreds of ways with your class over the past year. Here are a few highlights:

1. This year, we strongly focused God’s presence with us in Christ. We saw that God goes to all lengths to be with us and to make us God’s own people.

2. In Epiphany we joined the Magi on their journey to Christ. We “looked for Jesus” and then paid attention to the strange things that he did–being baptized by John in the River Jordan, speaking to and sharing with those who were on the margins, and healing the sick.

3. We learned that God is transforming us, making us new, and healing our brokenness through the waters of baptism, and the bread and wine of the Eucharist. Together we celebrated and gave thanks for the gifts that God has given us in these sacraments.

4. We saw over and over again that God is surprising. God works with all kinds of people and makes beauty in the midst of brokenness, alienation, pain, or chaos by transforming people and communities.

Hear the Word

The Road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35 is a story in which we see all of these themes. Jesus meets the two disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem the third day after Jesus’ death and walks with them. He reminds the two disciples of God’s faithfulness and promises to Israel by opening up and sharing Scriptures.  Then, the disciples recognize Jesus when he blesses, breaks, and distributes bread. We might say that the Road to Emmaus narrative is a microcosm of the salvation story that we find in Scripture. It shows us who God is and has always been, how Christ reveals God, and how we might still encounter the risen Christ together in our worship.

This week, share the story of the Road to Emmaus with your class by reading the passage from Scripture or from one of our children’s Bibles.

Respond to the Word

1.) Take a walk outside. Ask your class to imagine that they are leaving Jerusalem on the way to Emmaus. What do they see? When Jesus appears, do they recognize him? How do they know that it is him? Ask each of your students to share their favorite story about God with their neighbor. Do you think that Jesus told his disciples the same story about God? What stories might he have shared with them?

2.) Do Art Together. In a large group, share some of the favorite stories about Jesus from this year. Then, ask the question: Who is God? or Where do you encounter the risen Christ? Invite them to use colored pencils, acrylic paints, or water colors to share who God is. Ask them to share what they have created with the class or someone close to them.

3.) Be Known to Us: Have a conversation about the end of the story. The disciples recognize Jesus only after he shares bread with them. Why is that? Wonder together about bread and wine. Do we meet the risen Lord in Holy Communion? You can teach your children the fraction anthem we often sing in the liturgy (they may know it already) “The disciples knew the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Response: Be known to us Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread.” You class may also enjoy making a loaf of bread and cup of wine out of sculpey clay in the supply closet. 

4.) Where is Jesus? You could sing the resurrection song from last week (and two weeks ago) adding a new verse:

Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus?

He has risen. He has risen.

The great big stone has rolled away, Jesus is alive today!

Hip hip Hooray! Hip hip hooray!

—-

Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus?

On the Road. On the Road.

With the two disciples, heading to Emmaus.

Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Closing

Close your class early (about 10:40) in prayer. Remember to thank God for each of your students (by name, if possible). Once you have finished your class prayer, you may bring your students into the commons area. I will put out some food and refreshments for children, parents, and teachers.  I will have crackers in individual cups for the children. Please sit in circles and eat together. During this time, you might like to go around the circle and ask everyone to share their favorite story about Jesus from this year. Students may leave when their parents arrive but I will let parents know that they are also welcome to join in the circles.

Jesus our Savior: Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord!

Introduction

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The mystery of Easter takes 50 days to unfold. Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead was a miraculous and unexpected thing by which people were amazed and confused. While Jesus’ disciples stayed away from Jesus’ tomb after his death, on the morning of the the first day of the week, some women go to take care of Jesus body. In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb by herself. When she finds that the stone has been rolled away, she alerts Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved, who investigate for themselves. Once they leave, Mary stays behind weeping over Jesus’ missing body. Then (after seeing two angels), she meets the risen Jesus, who she first mistakes as a gardener. Afterward, she shares the story with the disciples, saying: “I have seen the Lord!”

Objectives:

(1.) Children will be able to tell the story of Christ’s resurrection and his encounter with Mary in the garden.

(2.) Children will be able to share Mary’s experience of seeing Jesus and sharing the news with the disciples and others.

(3.) Children will understand themselves as witnesses to the resurrection of Christ and will make symbols that help them retell the story.

Hear the Word:

Share the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ in John 20:11-18.

Ask your students to divide into pairs and discuss the following question with their partner: What happens in the story? What is their favorite part? What part do they think could be left out, if any?

Respond to the Word:

(1.) Mary Magdalene and the Red Eggs: Did you know Orthodox Christians exchange red eggs during the 50 days of Pascha and say “Christ is Risen.” This practice is believed to have it’s roots in the legend of Mary Magdalene and the red eggs (more below), the color red as a symbol for the blood of Christ, and the use of eggs as a symbol of resurrection beginning sometime in the 2nd century. After sharing the story of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Jesus, talk about how she shared the story of the resurrection with the disciples. Mary Magdalene is also reported to have shared this story with people all over the known world.

Reading: You can find the legend of Mary Magdalene and the Red egg online here or read one of the two books we own, The Miracle of the Red Egg or The Story of Saint Mary Magdalene & the First Easter Egg (I will put them at the front of the commons for you). Share the story with your students and then ask what they think Mary might have been thinking when she stumbled on the empty tomb. What was her response to Jesus in the Gospel of John? What made her want to share this news with everyone? When she did share this news, how did the disciples respond? How did she come to believe the story of the resurrection herself? Does the story of the red egg help us remember and believe this story?

Tactile experience: I have a large bag of red eggs filled with Silly Putty. Use some of the suggestions for praying with clay to lead your students in a quiet, prayerful session reflecting on the resurrection. You may like to play some music or read one of the children’s books listed above while your students work with their putty. Share the same discussion question as outlined in the “reading” section above.

Art: I have about 15 wooden eggs (older children may want to try blowing the yokes from real eggs. Here’s a tutorial if you are interested). Set your students up with red paint (acrylic, watercolors, or a food coloring and water mixture) and wooden eggs. After they have painted the eggs red, they can select symbols of the resurrection (butterfly, Lamb of God, tomb with stone rolled away, even crosses are a sign of Jesus’ victory over death) to paint on their eggs. If you have writers in your class, suggest that your students write “he is risen” on their egg. Then, encourage them to share their red egg and the story of Mary Magdalene seeing the risen Lord and then sharing the news with a relative this week.

Mary Magdalene Icons and Images: Print off copies of some of the images or icons above. Discuss the content of the picture. What part of the passion and resurrection story is depicted in the image? Do you see any symbols that are familiar (tomb, cross, stone, nail marks on Jesus’ hands and feet, red, egg, etc.). Ask your students to imagine that they are present with Jesus and the disciples at his trial, death, and resurrection. How would they respond if they were the disciples? If they were Mary? Would it be easy to believe Mary’s story? Is it hard for us who have not seen Jesus in person to believe that he has been raised from the dead? I have 20 icon cards of Mary Magdalene preaching the resurrection to the 11 disciples (in this icon, she is shown as the apostle to the apostles, the first to preach the news of the risen Lord). If your class does this activity, you may send the icon cards home so they may remember and, like Mary, share the story of the resurrection.

(2.) In the Garden: That Jesus was buried and raised by God in a garden is no small coincidence. Aside from the reminders of new life we may find in gardens (tiny creatures, birds’ nests, flower buds), gardens are also a significant Biblical motif.

Collaborative Conversation: Trace the use of gardens in the Bible. You may begin in the garden of Eden, talk about the Garden of Gethsemane, reference the garden in which Jesus was buried and raised, and end with the gardens in Revelation (there are many more to find and discuss). Why does God do so many wonderful things in gardens?

Tactile: Collect items from around the church, sticks, tiny stones, blades of grass, small vines. In a shallow bowl or pot plate, create an Easter garden together. Use an empty carton as the tomb and build around it. Some examples what your garden might look like are here, here, and here. Afterwards, use the garden to re-enact the Easter story from Jesus burial to his resurrection and encounter with Mary (you might use peg dolls and strips of cloth from the supply closet). If you would like to do this, please let me know so that I can purchase any materials you might need.

(3.) Other ways to explore Jesus’ Resurrection (younger children):

Acting out and Holy Play: Our youngest children may want to focus just on the resurrection story. Use play dough (free-form, 3-d, or with these play dough mats), cardboard bricks, or found stones to build a tomb and talk about how Mary found the tomb empty before she saw Jesus. If using the cardboard bricks, have the children act out the scene for each other.

Resurrection rolls: Here is a recipe for resurrection rolls. Let me know if you are planning on doing this activity so I can purchase the ingredients for you. Because the fellowship commission will be using the kitchen for fellowship Sunday, you may want to make the rolls downstairs with your class, then have an adult bake them while another leads story time as the children wait.

Singing: Sing the song, Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus? (to the tune Frere Jacques) with hand motions.

Where is Jesus? Where is Jesus? (Hand over eyes as though you are searching in the distance)

He has risen! He has risen! (lift hands up from waist level to shoulder level)

The great big stone has rolled away (roll hands around each other)

Jesus is alive today!

Hip, hip hooray! Hip, hip hooray(two claps and pump hands in the air)

Close in Prayer

Holy Week and Easter Reflection

Before we get into the stories of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances, we will take and opportunity to pause and reflect on significant experience, memories, and images from Lent, Holy Week, and Easter morning. If you need an update on what our children did during this period of time, check out the recap post here.

Gather

Spend the first part of your class sharing experiences from Lent, Holy Week, and Easter 1. Sit in a circle outside or in your classroom. Go around the circle three times giving each child a chance to share something they did or remember from each period of time (Lent, Holy Week, and Easter). You may want to prompt them for each of these sections. Here are some question/prompt ideas:

Lent: A long time ago, we talked about the Good Shepherd and the sheep for whom he lays down his life. Do you remember this story? What do you remember about it? Who was the Good Shepherd? What did he do? What was your favorite part of the story? Is there another story you liked better? Did it feel like Lent was very long? Did you do anything special at home during this time? Did you do anything special at the church? What did you do?

Holy Week: There were a lot of services at the church during Holy Week. Why do you think so many people came to the church so many times? What did you do when you came to the church? Did you wash someone’s feet or did you take the Eucharist? Did the church look different or change a lot? What did you think about those changes? Some of the changes were very dark and some of them were beautiful. What was your favorite time coming to the church? Do you remember how many new people were baptized? Was there anything new or different in the church that you had never seen before?

Easter: The first day of Easter was last Sunday. That’s the first day out of 50 days and it seems to be one that people really like. If you came I bet you met a lot of people that you had never met before, and it was fun to have new friends on such a festive and celebratory occasion. Did you come to church on Easter morning? Did anything special happen? What happened to the alleluias that we buried a long time ago? What story did you hear? Why do you think we were having such a good time after all of the time we spent with the sad/rough stories?

The 3+4 year old class may want to abbreviate this part and can do so by talking briefly about each of these changes. Teachers in this class may want to narrate the changes a little more and then ask what the kids thought of it. Some of your children might have been in the nursery most of the week, but they might still remember some of the stories.

After your conversations share an art response together. Several are suggested below, but you are not limited to these.

Art Response

(1.) Word Art: As a class create a list of words that describe the experience of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, respectively. The create word art of the cross, the empty tomb, Eucharist, or any of the other symbols and motifs we have talked about. Here is an example of what your art might look like. If you do this, please take pictures to send me.

(2.) Alleluia Poster (older children): I have a large alleluia poster with the Lamb of God (looks like this). The poster has grapes, bread, and host of other significant symbols that your class can talk about. Most of the symbols have a story or two corresponding to our Lent, Holy Week, and Easter lessons, programming, and worship. Color in the poster together (if possible, I will hang it in your class. If you have one of the preschool classes, then I can hang it in one of the classrooms that only Holy Family uses). Older classes may have an interesting conversation about Christ as the Paschal Lamb. Didn’t we say Christ was the shepherd and we were the sheep?

(3.) Life of Jesus Cross: Make this Easter, Life of Jesus cross craft. Talk about each of the stories. We talked about all of them in Sunday School this year and many of them during the Lenten season.

(4.) Community Cross: Before your class comes in, cut a large cross out of paper, then cut it into squares of different sizes (remember to number the backs so you know in what order the pieces go. Ask each student to color one of the squares. When all are finished, put the pieces of the cross back together (together) to create a cross mosaic. You can find an example here.

(5.) Lent Journals: It isn’t Lent anymore, but it will be nice to wrap up our Lent journals with a small reflection from the other side, the Eastertide side. You may ask they to artistically depict what happened after Lent. In some of the classes you may also want to give children an opportunity to go back and finish creating something they were unable to finish. Older children might choose four or five words to describe what the experienced during each Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. Or, perhaps you would like your students to write a reflection or draw a response to the prompt “who is God?” or “Who is Jesus?” Some children may like to write/copy one of the prayers you used, or copy Psalm 23 (an image we worked with a good deal, but a text we did not). Give your students an opportunity to share what they have written or created. Since this is the last time we will use our lent journals, please send these home with the children.

Close in Prayer

Preparation for a Day of Reflection on Holy Week and Easter Day

Welcome back! So much has happened since our last Sunday School lesson. Our children have seen Lent blossom into Easter. The move from Lent to Easter was filled with the activities of Lent and Holy Week. Since these are rich times in our Parish, we will take the next week of Sunday School to reflect on some of these events and symbols–Palm Sunday, the cross, Holy Thursday (with footwashing and the institution of the Eucharist), Good Friday, the tomb, the vigil, resurrection on Easter morning (at least the first day of the 50 days of Easter).

Below you will find the program overview for Christian Education during Lent, Holy Week, and the first day of Easter. The lesson next week will be a day for reflection. I will post some light activities, but it will be helpful to have seen this recap as you ask your students what they notice and remember from the Lenten season and the events of Holy Week (in the liturgy or in the story).

Wednesday Night Lenten Series, or “Lent un-fest”

During Lent many of our children participated in a Lenten Series on Wednesday evenings. The first week, we talked about the Good Shepherd and painted crosses with images of the sheep and Good Shepherd. Some of the children re-told the story of the Good Shepherd using pom-pom sheep and crosses. The children learned that the Good Shepherd knows each one of the sheep by name. Together we named the sheep several times before I went around the circle pointing to each sheep and lovingly bestowing upon it the name of each child in the circle. We learned that the love for each sheep is so deep that the Good Shepherd even lays down his life for the sheep.

In remembrance of God’s gracious work in liberating the Israelites from bondage and slavery in Egypt, we heard the story of Passover and then made and ate Matzo bread. We learned that the Passover meal was observed by Jesus and his disciples their whole lives and especially right before Jesus’ crucifixion. When we eat matzo bread, we can still “taste this story.”

Our third week together, we talked about the Church’s Lenten practice of almsgiving. The story of the widow who gave all she had to the temple treasury was our starting point. The children painted boxes in which they might collect coins for the poor. Next, we learned of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and made Anglican prayer beads that we might join Christ’s own prayers with ours. Many of the children wrote and created small prayers to use with their beads. During our last week together we stayed in the Garden, focusing on Jesus’ praying while his disciples kept watch. Our conversation focused on the disciples waiting with Jesus and how they fell asleep because they were tired and scared.  We remembered that we too are eagerly waiting with the disciples, waiting to see what happens next, waiting for the return of Christ. The Easter vigil, we decided, was one such time–we wait for Jesus to raise on the morning of the eighth day and we await Christ’s coming again in final victory. On this day we decorated Paschal candles with signs of the cross, Christ, victory, and resurrection.

Sunday School

As you well know, our Sunday School classes have been bustling and busy during the Lenten season. Many of our classes chose a discipline (bringing in food for a food pantry, learning the books of the Bible, going over the stations of the Cross) to work through during Lent. At music we almost always sang the Jesus Prayer song.

All of our classes heard the Godly Play story of the Good Shepherd and World Communion, a lesson which helped our children see that God calls all people to the table prepared by Christ. We meet Christ, our Good Shepherd, at the table again and again when we share the Eucharist together. In the next weeks, as we focus on some of the resurrection appearances, we will see some of these themes again–Jesus is known, remembered, and met at the table and in the food we share together just as Christ was known to his disciples at the table and in the breaking of the bread.

Our Sunday School lessons focused on the images of and relationship between the Good shepherd and the sheep through exploring the Parables of the Good Shepherd and the Lost Sheep. We played sheep games, retold the story from many different perspectives,  found lost “sheep,” named sheep, read books, and asked some of the following questions: What does it mean that Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd? What does this image tell us about God? What does it tell us about the cross? And, what does this tell us about who Christ is for us? We closed our Sunday School weeks out by talking about the story of the Last Supper, a story linked to the Good Shepherd stories through our Godly Play lesson.

Holy Week

Many of our children began Holy Week with the Palm Sunday Intergenerational Event. They heard of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem, and waved palms in a processional with their families during one of the liturgies. Then, they folded palms into crosses so that they might see the symbol of Jesus death all week. On this day, the children also walked an interactive version of the Stations of the Cross where they encountered images of Christ’s journey and objects that helped them explore the story in a tactile way. Throughout the week, many of our children attended Holy Week services with their families–Holy Thursday’s foot washing and Eucharist, Good Friday’s somber service. Many of our younger children made simple Holy Week crafts in the nursery. The Holy Week services culminated in the Easter vigil which went late into the night. The children witnessed the lighting of the new fire and the Paschal candle, baptisms, confirmations and receptions, and shared in the Eucharist. Easter morning was all about fun and celebration–we said Alleluia!, unwrapped our alleluia banner, and sang the words of celebration to our heart’s content. Then, Holy Family’s children went on an egg hunt.