Christ: Jesus Calls the Twelve

When Christ calls a person, he bids them come and die. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Introduction

The wonderful story of how Jesus calls the twelve disciples is one with which all of our children are likely familiar.

In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (whose birthday is today, by the way!) uses the story of Jesus’ call of the disciples to show how costly full obedience to Christ is. The disciples give up everything they have and (seemingly) without question follow Jesus as he gathers around himself twelve people for the term of his ministry (a term which, by the way, ends in their deaths). On this, Bonhoeffer writes: “Once again, Jesus calls those who follow him to share his passion. How can we convince the world by our preaching of the passion when we shrink from that passion in our own lives? On the cross Jesus fulfilled the law he himself established and thus graciously keeps his disciples in the fellowship of his suffering” (142).

The demands of Christ are steep for the disciples; their resolve to follow him in all things is admirable. What does Jesus require of us? What does it mean to follow God fully in this life? What does full obedience look like?

Hear the Story

Our story this week has several different sections: Matthew 4:18-22 (Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, James and John); Matthew 9:-13 (Jesus calls Matthew the tax collector); Matthew 10:1-4 (a list of the disciples). You may also read the story in one of our children’s Storybook Bibles. You may find this story under the title “Jesus calls his Disciples” in The Children’s Illustrated Bible (210-11); “Twelve Helpers” in Jesus Calling Bible Storybook (156-7); “Let’s Go!” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (208-14).

Respond to the Story

(1.) Fish and Fishing for People: Fish are an important symbol for Christianity almost from the beginning (they appear in many of our stories–Jesus shares a small child’s loaves and fishes, Jesus eats a fish to show his disciples that he has really resurrected, Jesus make a fish breakfast for the disciples by the sea of Tiberius). The imagery and lifestyle that came with fishing would have been of great significance for many of Jesus’ early followers. What does it mean when Jesus says that he will make the disciples “fishers of people”? Is this to be the disciple’s new vocation and livelihood?

a. Cut out and decorate paper fish. Each child can make individual fish OR several fish that can be used on a mobile OR many fish that can all be strung together as a long classroom banner.

(2.) The Shields and Symbols of the Apostles: We remember the apostles not only by the stories they told about Jesus, but also by looking at shields, which help tell the story of each apostle.  Use the shields to help you explore the stories of the various apostles and complete some of the activities below. Find a Description for each of the shields here. Older children may want to take turns describing the shields.  Many of them show how the disciples died.  Help the kids imagine ways that the disciples followed Jesus in life and death.

a. Paper Doll Disciples and their symbols: Find information about each of the Apostles here (page 8 on the .pdf). Make a paper people chain of twelve using these directions and this template. Older students may be able to cut out the people chain by themselves. Then, using the information you learned about the Apostles, illustrate them with symbols and defining features of their ministries.

b.  Clay Shields: Invite each child to select one of the shields of the disciples to recreate in 3-d using clay. The colorful tub of sculpey clay in the supply closet would be great for this. Place each of the final creations on a piece of paper marked with each child’s name and leave them for me to photograph. Children may take them home next week.

c. Gifts of the Disciples/Gifts from us (Adapted from an activity written by Wren in 2012): Invite children to create their own crest. One half is a symbol of something Jesus might ask them to give up to follow him. The other half is a symbol of a gift they could use to help others follow Jesus. Jesus asked the disciples to give up an important part of their lives to follow him. Ask the children if they have ever had to give up something because they are Christians.  On one half of your shield, paint a symbol of something you have given up (or would be willing to give up) for Jesus, if you were asked.

Jesus also used the gifts of his disciples to help him spread the good news of God’s kingdom.  [Eg., Matthew, the tax collector, would have been an educated person in order to be a tax collector. So he knew how to write. How did Matthew use that gift to tell others about Jesus? (He wrote the Gospel of Matthew.) What is a gift or skill that you have that Jesus might use, i.e., Do you make friends easily and could invite someone to church? Do you play soccer well enough to help teach someone else? While you are teaching them could you tell them about Jesus? On the other half of your shield, paint a symbol of a gift or skill you could use to help others learn about Jesus.

(4.) Games

a. Jesus Says (like Simon Says): Jesus called each of the disciples “follow me” and they did immediately. They left behind work that needed to be done and family members who may have relied on them, but the call of God was very strong. With your class play a version of Simon Says in which one person plays “Jesus” while the rest of the class follows Jesus commands. Discuss what it means for us to follow Jesus in our lives together.

b. Red Rover and Follow the Leader: Jesus gathers the disciples around him one or two at a time until he has the twelve who will faithfully follow him throughout his ministry. Play Red Rover, Red Rover (send [name] right over). Appoint one child to play Jesus and ask them to gather their disciples. It’s okay if there are not 12 children. Once all of the disciples are gathered, have your students “Follow Jesus” on a walk around the church (outside if it isn’t too cold or wet).

(5.) Songs for Young Children

a. “Fishers of Men” (tune and lyrics for multiple verses may be found on this video)

I will make you Fishers of Men,

Fishers of Men, Fishers of Men.

I will make you Fishers of Men,

If you follow me.

If you follow me.

If you follow me.

I will make you Fishers of Men,

If you follow me.

b. “Jesus Called Them One by One” (to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”):

Verse 1:

Jesus called them one by one,

Peter, Andrew, James, and John

Next came Philip, Thomas too

Matthew and Bartholomew

Chorus:

Yes, Jesus called them, (x3)

He called them one by one.

Verse 2:

James, the one they called the less,

Simon also Thaddeus

Twelve apostles Judas made

Jesus was betrayed by him.

Close in Prayer and with a Feast

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Christ: Jesus Teaches in the Temple

Introduction

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. 

Christ: Travelers from the East Encounter Christ

Take some time to adjust to your classroom and become reacquainted with it’s rhythms. If you have “rules or guidelines” for behavior, spend a moment on those. If your class is working on memorizing a particular piece of Scripture/song/prayer, work with that. Also take a bit of time to reconnect socially after our long break. Play a name game and ask you students about their Christmas celebrations thus far. Use this as an opportunity to share with them that the season of Christmas is still happening–in fact, it’s a 12 day celebration that wont end for a another two days (from Sunday)!

Illuminated Manuscript of Farnborough Abbey

Introduction

This week’s story is a favorite of mine and a familiar one for most of our students. Our Gospel from Matthew 2:1-12 highlights that Jesus is not just King and Savior for those who are near (the shepherds), but even for those who are far off (the Magi); Jesus is the King and Savior for all people.

Matthew shares that the Magi bring exotic and expensive gifts: gold (fit for royalty), frankincense (used in worship), and myrrh (an expensive perfume used for embalming). Each of these gifts represent something symbolic about who Jesus is. How do the Magi understand the birth of this Baby? This is a theme you may want to explore with your class.

As an interesting aside, Matthew shares with us the three gifts of the Magi, but not the number of visitors. In fact, early tradition held that there were 12 visitors–representing the 12 tribes of Israel–but Matthew offers no such detail. Noticing the differences in what we remember about the story and the fact that the text does not specify this particular detail reminds us to pay close attention, even to those stories we know quite well.

Hear the Story

In the new year, we would like to have our children grow more familiar with their Bibles. We almost always work on Bible stories, but we want them to know how to find stories in the Bible and develop skills for reading the Bible together. This is especially important for our older children (in 2nd grade and above), but our younger children (3 years–1st grade) need a good foundation too. Begin sharing the story with your students by sharing where this story comes from.  For this story, you might say: “Our story is from the Gospel of Matthew. It is the first book in the New Testament and it is called a Gospel because it shares with us stories about the good news of Jesus Christ. There are three other books that have these special stories. They are also called Gospels–they are Mark, Luke, and John. We read a story from one of these four special books every week in Church. When we read these stories in church we usually stand while we listen because they are so important to us.” Plan on doing this kind of brief introduction every week this year. In the future, I will suggest more hands-on ways for your students to become familiar with the Bible in concrete ways.

This story, Matthew 2:1-12, is wonderful for reading directly from a real Bible translation for most of our age groups. It is also a very popular story in our children’s Bibles and some of our storybooks (in the Christian Education library).

Respond to the Story

1. Act out the Story: After reading the story, grab some of the costumes and accessories from our supply closets and act out the story in groups of three or four. Discuss the long travel, the Magi’s experience in the company of Herod, their encounter with the Christ child, and their return home. What were their experiences? What did they think when the encountered Jesus and did it make any difference for them? Why did they return home another way, avoiding a second visit with Herod?

2. A Gift for Christ: Discuss the three gifts that the Magi bring to the Baby Jesus. Wonder together about what they mean and why these gifts would be given to a baby. What use did Mary, Joseph, and Jesus have for these gifts and what do you think they did with them? I mentioned above what each of these gifts was used for, are these symbols significant? Do they help us reflect on the life (or death) of Jesus? Discuss also what gifts we bring to Christ. Teachers might share about a gift that they have given to Christ. Ask your students to create a poster of the gifts they have to offer to God and God’s people. Share our “gifts to God” with the rest of the class.

3. Star ornaments: You can make a star ornament for the children to put on their tree or near their household creche. A simple Popsicle stick ornament made from three overlapping Popsicle sticks may work well. For older children, invite them to write part of the story (Maybe Matthew 2:10) on the back of the ornament.

4. Three Magi Popsicle stick craft: Make this three Magi craft together. Crafts like this work well when we invite the children to share the story with us after. We are doing more than just creating a cute craft, we are helping them find and create resources to explore the story further when they go home. Ask you students to practice this by having them share the story with one another using their magi figures. Remind them to do the same thing from their parents, grandparents, or siblings.

5. Wise Men visit Jesus Finger Play (our 3+4 year old class will love this!): Learn this short finger play about the Magi’s visit to the Baby Jesus by watching this video.

6. Mosaics: By now you may well know my love for mosaic and collage responses. You can use this collage mosaic of a star (there is one of the three magi right below it) as inspiration for a class poster of your own.

7. We Three Kings: Teach your students all the verses to We Three Kings (lyrics can be found here), a carol composed by an Episcopal priest in Pennsylvania in 1857. In this song, all of the singers sing the first and last verse and the refrain. Each of the three kings sings about the gift they are bringing to the infant king. Spend a bit of time looking at the words and discussing what they mean.

Bonus: As a bonus activity, once you finish working with the song by talking about it and singing it together, each child may enjoy pretending that they are bringing one of these gifts to Jesus. Write a letter to a friend explaining why the gift is important and what it means. They may want to choose a different gift–maybe one of the gifts that they personally offer to God–and write a letter to a friend explaining what the gift it and what it means.

8. Bible Verse Memorization: First, each child can find the story in a Bible. Then, choose a part of the story or a verse that your class would like to memorize together (good options are 2:5-6, 9, 10, 0r 11). Use group and small team memorization games to learn part of the story by heart.

Close with Prayer and a Feast

We share a small

Jesus our Companion: The Last Supper

The Last Supper by Tintoretto 1594, Oil on canvas

All four of the Gospels give us an account of the events at the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples. In the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Jesus explains that one of the disciples will betray him and institutes the Lord’s Supper. In John, Jesus identifies Judas as his betrayer after he washes the feet of those with whom he is eating.In all four Gospels we have a command from Jesus to do something in and for his remembrance (wash feet and share this meal).

Objectives

(1.) To retell the story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples

(2.) To identify the significant things the Gospel writers tell us happened at the Last Supper.

(3.) To practice remembering Jesus meal with his disciples and particularly the institution of the Lord’s Supper or his washing the disciples feet.

Gathering

Remind your students that this is the last day of Sunday School before Easter and that next Sunday will be Palm-Passion Sunday.

Hear the Word

Share the story of footwashing from John 13:1-5 or Jesus bread breaking from Luke 22:19-21. These texts focus on particular practices that our children will likely recognize from Church. If you would like to share some of the context around these practices, we have a few books in the Christian Ed. Library for your use.

Respond to the Word

(1.) Contemplating art: Find art depicting scenes from the synoptics or John. Use them to reflect on the story of Jesus last meal with his disciples. I love this serigraph  of communion and this serigraph  of Jesus washing the disciples feet, both by John August Swanson. You may have other images you would like to explore. After discussing and working with several depictions, invite each child to make an artistic rendering of their own.

(2.) Last Supper Diorama: As a class, create a diorama of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. Use a cardboard box for the structure. Construct a table with scrap wood (in the supply closet) and cardboard. Make simple linens from fabric. Depending on the number of children in your class, provide each child with a clothespin to paint or color and dress (you can use fabric and yarn or tissue paper). You can be as elaborate (yarn hair) or simple as you would like and is appropriate for your age group. Invite each child to name their figure after one of the people present at the supper. Then, as a class, discuss the events of the night. Perhaps you would like to focus on Jesus’ giving the bread and wine as his body or maybe the footwashing from John’s Gospel caught your attention. Talk about what those things–communion and footwashing–tell us about how Jesus wants us to follow him.

If you have extra time after creating your diorama, younger children may enjoy retelling the story using their figures. Older children may enjoy imagining that they are one of the disciples (or a fly on the wall) and writing about their experience in first-person in the Lenten journals. When you are finished, you may leave the diorama in your class and I will store them for later use.

(2a.) DaVinci Diorama: Alternativly, you may enjoy making this diorama based on DaVinci’s depiction of the Last Supper.

(3.) Footwashing:  Work together to set up buckets and sponges or cloths from the Christian Education Supply closet (If the weather is nice, your class may enjoy doing this outside). Put children in pairs and ask them to gently wash one another’s feet. Respond together to this practice. Was this an odd choice? How does it show love?

Bonus: If you have a younger class you may want to play a game with the water, buckets, and sponges after washing feet. Use the sponges and buckets to have a bucket-filling relay race (similar to the baptism or woman at the well water game).

(4.) Last Supper Poems and Prayers: After your class hears the story of the Last Supper, read the poem(s), “The Passover,” “Last Lesson,” and/or “Communion” from At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter by Nikki Grimes (I will put this book at the front of the commons for you to use). Take some time after each poem to look at and observe the beautiful woodcuts featured in the book (by North Carolina artist, David Frampton). Ask your students to share what they think the Last Supper was like. How did the disciples feel knowing that they would only have Jesus for a short time? What did they think when Jesus broke bread with them and gave them wine? What about when he washed their feet? Then, invite your students to write their own poems about the Last Supper in their Lenten journals. If you have time remaining, invite students to share their poems with the class.

(5.) Last meal, last thoughts: Reflect together on what it might feel like to be present with Jesus at the Last Supper. You might talk about what Jesus was thinking about or why he chose to show his love in a meal (the Synoptics) and footwashing (John). What were the disciples thinking as Jesus shared with them the details of what was about to happen? What did they think about having their feet washed? What did they think about Judas? Share your reflections with each other before writing about them in the Lenten journals.

(6.) Last Supper Play-Doh Meal: Young children may enjoy this activity. Use the print out and have your class make play-doh (closet near the nursery) or clay (closet near the 3+4 year old class) images from the Last Supper (bread, chalice, or water basin).

Lenten Journals: Ask your students to draw a depiction of the Last Supper. They may like to focus on communion, footwashing, or both.

Close in Prayer

Jesus the Healer: Jesus raises Lazarus from the Dead

Introduction

What a captivating story! This Sunday we will reflect on Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb for four days. This story appears only in the Gospel of John and is one of the climactic moments in the book. It is likely the story that begins Jesus’ move to the cross and has been called the “resurrection that will lead to death.” We know that the death this miracle leads to will lead us right back to resurrection. In the Lectionary, this story comes later in Lent, but we reflect on it earlier so that we can celebrate the wonderful things that Jesus has done as we head into the time during which we will focus on the cross and who Jesus is for us. This is an opportunity to celebrate and take note of the things that only God can do in Jesus Christ the one who calls himself the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-6).

The Raising of Lazarus

Gather

On Sunday morning, we will be singing a lot of alleluias and it will be our last time for quite a while. Today is a day for fun and feasting, to celebrate the work that Jesus has done in his ministry. Next week we will begin our Lenten practices. Share with your students about the season of Lent, a time when the church remembers that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem where he would be crucified. Lent is a serious time and we save all of our praises–our alleluias–for the day when we hear that Jesus Christ our Lord is risen (indeed!). So today we want to get them all of our praises out and give brief attention to one of Jesus most exciting works. These events–Jesus raising Lazarus, and God raising Jesus–will form bookends for Lent and this story helps us keep resurrection in mind as we are trudging through the solemness of Lent. After you have shared a brief introduction to Lent, ask your students what they know about the Lenten season? What kinds of things do they do at home to inhabit the season of Lent?

This is also be a good time to talk about a discipline your class may want to adopt for Lent. One of our classes will spend time learning the books of the Old or New Testament, another class may collect offering for a ministry. Brainstorm ideas for what you might do together to inhabit this season.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the Dead. From the Christian Communities in Mafa, Cameroon. 197os.

Hear the Word

This story is quite long in our Bibles. If your class is older, they may enjoy reading the story out loud together from John 11:20-44. Alternatively, you may want to tell this story yourself. “The Raising of Lazarus” can also be found in The Miracles of Jesus by Tomie DePaola (this is my favorite version). I will put several other versions of the story around the room for you to choose from.

Respond to the Word

(1.)  Jesus is the resurrection and the life: Wonder together about what Jesus means when he says “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Talk to your students about what they think Jesus means by this statement and what they believe about Jesus because of it.

(2.) Wrap up a Lazarus: Use sheets from the supply closet (if you open the door, they are the shelf directly behind the door). Divide your class into two teams each with a pile of sheets. Let each team race to wrap Lazarus. Once Lazarus is all wrapped up, they can race to unwrap Lazarus and let him out of the tomb. An alternative version of this game is like musical chairs. Sing the “Lazarus is Alive” song to the tune of Jingle Bells (Lazarus, Lazarus, he was Jesus’ friend. He got sick and died one day, Jesus raised him up again! found here). They can wrap/unwrap anytime you are singing, but everyone must pause when you are not signing.

(3.) Lazarus Red Light, Green Light: Play a version of red light, green light in which one person in your class plays Jesus. Other students should start by laying on the ground (red light–Lazarus is in the grave). Jesus can say “Lazarus, Come out!” (for yellow),kids should walk slowly as though they are tied up. Jesus can also say “Unbind him and let him go” (green) kids can walk fast or run toward Jesus. The first person to tag Jesus gets to be the next Jesus. If it is nice outside, feel free to play this game on the playground, on the lawn near the house, or on the concrete outside of the 3+4 year old and k+1st grade classrooms.

(4.) Lazarus Puppets: Use Popsicle sticks to make Lazarus puppets. Paint (or color) faces on the sticks and then wrap in bands of cloth, tissue paper, or other materials from the supply closet (feel free to tear small strips of cloth from the larger pieces). You can find a more elaborate version here. Explain that this is what happened to people’s bodies after they died. No one expected that Jesus might call Lazarus from outside the tomb and that he would walk out still covered in bands of cloth! You can talk about how this was something sad (even Jesus cries over Lazarus), but that the power of Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Once your have made your Lazarus puppets, get into groups of two and act out the story. Wonder together about people’s experience of seeing someone walk out of the grave, the response of religious and political leaders, and what people might have thought about Jesus.

(5.) Lazarus in Art: The story of Lazarus is very popular and a lot of artists have worked with it. Use the two images above and others if you wish (an icon, here, and  a modernist piece) and reflect on the pieces with the students in your class. It  might be particularly fruitful to wonder together what it would have been like to be a member of the crowd who witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (in our story, Jesus even says that he prays to the Father out loud so that the crowds might believe).

This week we will close with a special snack (a feast) and prayer.

During your feast, each of your classes will be given two letters for our alleluia banner. Please color these two pages together. I will string them up and hang them for next week when we will bury the alleluias together for Lent.

Jesus our Teacher: The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Take a look at the shape of that well. It looks just like our baptismal font at Holy Family.

Introduction

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?

Objectives

(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

Jesus our Teacher: Jesus is Rejected in his Hometown

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Introduction

After Jesus is baptized in the river Jordan, he makes his way into the wilderness where he fasts for 40 days and 40 nights and is tempted by the devil. When he leaves the desert, he returns to Galilee and becomes a well known preacher. We have established that these stories cause us to ask about Jesus’ identity. Who is this guy? What kind of Savior is Jesus? What kind of God shows Godself in this way?

In Jesus’ hometown people think of him as a cool guy (who has become a pretty well-known preacher) who is hanging out with his parents and visiting old friends. At first, when he speaks, people love it. When he begins to challenge them, however, it must have seemed like he was stepping out of place. They all knew who he was and now he is acting as though he is their prophet!

This story invites us to continue exploring issues around Jesus identity and how he was received.

Objectives

(1.) Students will be able to explain one of the ways that people began to receive Jesus as his identity emerged and became increasingly public.

(2.) Older children may begin to see that Jesus was not loved by many. For much of his life he was abandoned by those who knew him best. His identity put him at odds with the world, the Roman Empire, and even his family. They may be able to see that Jesus was increasingly rejected and this rejection ultimately led to the cross.

Gather

As you gather this week, children may be interested in completing a coloring page. Older children may enjoy this  word search. Invite the children in your class to work on these things while you share the story with them.

Hear the Story

Read the story for this week from Luke 4: 16-30 or one of our children’s Bibles. When you have finished have a discussion about why Jesus was visiting Nazareth, what it would be like to see friends and family after being away for a while, and what the response of his community was to his reading, then to his subsequent proclamation? Wonder with your class about the circumstances around the uprising against Jesus in Nazareth. I wonder why the people were so upset. I wonder what Jesus said that changed their mind after they were so happy to hear him read. I wonder how Jesus got away.

Respond to the word

(1.) Make a Scroll from Isaiah: When Jesus reads in the synagogue, he reads from the scroll of Isaiah. Tape long sheets of paper together and attach straws, popsicle sticks, or some other support on each end. Have your students write down the words that Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah. Alternatively, students can write who Jesus is to them, or draw an image of the Isaiah text. Once students are finished with the paper, they can roll is up and tie it with twine (from the supply closet).

(2.) Cheers for Jesus: The people around Jesus couldn’t see who he really was. First, because they were familiar with him as a normal person, rather than a prophet or teacher. Second, because what he said challenged the people he knew and loved in ways that made them feel as though he was rejecting them. As a class, make a list of all of the priaseworthy things about Jesus’ identity. Who is Jesus to us? Who is Jesus for us? What about Jesus is praiseworthy? Once you have made a list, write some Cheers for Jesus together–“Jesus liberates! Jesus heals the blind! He’s the Son of God!” Add in hand and body motions.  Talk about how we can recognize who Jesus is because when we read Scripture we have already seen evidence at his birth, in his baptism, and in the temptations. Because we know who Jesus is, we can accept him.

(3.) Spring up, O Well: We have asked what kind of savior Jesus is all year. Well, we are finally getting some answers. In our story we learn that Jesus has come to fulfill the prophesies of Isaiah. The blind can see. Good news is proclaimed to the poor. Talk about how this is another opportunity for us to praise Jesus for who he is. The popular children’s song, “I’ve Got a River of Life” will be fun for our kids to learn (if they don’t know it already). By changing only a couple of words, this song can help remind us  of who Jesus is: “I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Jesus makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. He opens prison doors and sets the captives free. So, I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me!”

(4.) Act it Out: We act things out a lot. A lot of interesting things happen in this story and we see things differently when we walk through the motions and identify which events led to particular responses and outcomes. Sometimes things become clearer. We might even see things that don’t make sense to us. Then we can ask the really good questions (like, Why did people want to throw Jesus off a cliff? It doesn’t exactly seem like a proportional response, eh?).

(5.) Good News in Art: What is the good news that Jesus is proclaiming in the synagogue and who is it good for? How is Jesus message good for all people? Talk about what the good news of Jesus is for us. How does Jesus challenge us to be a different kind of people (remember his reading from Isaiah is about the poor, blind, and captive)? Who should we be in light of Jesus identity? Once you have talked about who Jesus is and how that is good news, invite your students to make artistic depictions of what they think is Jesus’ good news.

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