This Sunday: January 31st

Beulah Land: Marriage at Cana

  • Memory Verse: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19:9
  • Summary: Today’s lesson is from John 2:1-12. It’s the recording of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding banquet. Again, children will hear the words that what Jesus provides is “enough and more than enough.”
  • I Wonder… : what is so special about a wedding? if you have ever been to one? why it was not good to run out of wine? what it was like when Jesus told them to fill up the jars with water when they needed wine?
  • Additional Follow-up: For little kids– talk about weddings. What happens at weddings? Show pictures of your’s or another family member’s wedding. If you want to pull in older siblings, do some research about Jewish weddings during the ministry of Jesus to see how they differ from the ones we are familiar with.   Parents, I wonder why John records Jesus’ first miracle at the Cana wedding?

Godly Play I: Parable of the Mustard Seed

  • Memory Verse: It is like mustard seed which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree and the birds of the air perched in its branches. Luke 13:19
  • Summary: Today’s parable is the Mustard Seed. You can find it in Mark 4, and Luke 13. This is a VERY short parable that gives us much to consider! We will give each child a tiny mustard seed of their own to bring home and wonder about.
  • I Wonder…:  if the person who put the tiny seed into the ground has a name? if the birds have names? what the tree, birds, nests, all of it, could really be?
  • Additional Followup: A fact: Something interesting to know is that mustard trees of the eastern world grow and spread quickly. They can take over fields quite easily. An activity: plant something! Gardening, even in a cup on your windowsill, provides ample opportunity to talk about faith with children.

Godly Play II: Jesus Heals the Paralytic

From Worship Woodworks
From Worship Woodworks
  • Memory Verse: So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins–he said to the paralytic–‘I say to you, rise up, pick up your bed, and go home.’- Mark 2:10-11
  • Summary: Today’s miracle story tells about Jesus healing a Paralytic man. It can be found in Mark 2, Matthew 9 and Luke 5. There is so much to glean from this story about Jesus’ power and authority, sin, faith, loyal friendship, etc. It gives us so much to wonder about! I think kids will really enjoying working with this set as the story sinks in…the roof lifts off of the house!
  • I Wonder…:  what this paralyzed man was like? what his life was like? who took care of him? how his friends decided to carry him to Jesus? what Jesus means when he says he has authority to forgive sins? why he forgave his sins and made him walk again? how this is about the way of God’s kingdom? how this story is about you?
  • At Home: Research what homes were like during the ministry of Jesus. This can give you a starting place. Make a replica out of a shoebox to use for telling and retelling of this story at home. Talk about the life of someone who has special physical needs. What would like be like for them? Why would Jesus healing both physical and spiritual disease be important?

This Sunday: January 24th

Beulah Land: Jesus’s Ministry and Disciples

Ghirlandaio, 1481
Ghirlandaio, 1481
  • Memory Verse: Jesus said, “Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
  • Summary: We are delving deeper into Gospel stories. This week, Beulah Land kids will learn that Jesus called certain men to be his disciples. They will also hear that Jesus was sent to show people that “God’s love is always enough.” An interesting thing you might like to know is that New Testament stories begin with the call for listeners to “hear the story and let it change you”. In addition, the stories of Jesus’s Ministry all include this phrase, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus went out among the people.”
  • I Wonder… : what Jesus meant about “fishing for people”? what it feels like to be called by Jesus? what it is like to “hear the story and let it change you”?
  • Additional Follow-up: “Fish” for things around your house. As you collect them, talk about what you do with things that belong to you. How do you treat them? Where do you put them? What things are most important to you? I wonder what God meant when he said “fish for people”?

Godly Play I: Parable of the Great Pearl

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Youtube Still of the Story
  • Memory Verse: When he found the pearl, he sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:46
  • Summary: Today our parable journey takes us to Matthew 13:45-46, a short story about selling all that one has in order to obtain something of great value. Interesting to note: in this story set, the pearl of great value is not the biggest one. From the story: “Our culture holds up big things for us to admire…big homes, big bank accounts…greatness has to do with more than size.”
  • I Wonder…:  what the pearl could really be? if the man knew right away the pearl was more valuable than everything he owned? what is so precious that someone would sell EVERYTHING to have it? if you have ever been close to something so valuable?

Godly Play II: Jesus Feeds the 5000

From Worship Woodworks
From Worship Woodworks
  • Memory Verse: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Mark 6:34
  • Summary: Our older kids are taking a break from parables today in order to hear a miracle story! Jesus and the disciples are followed by an enormous crowd. Jesus teaches them and meets their physical needs with a meal made from five loaves and two fish. You can find this story in Mark 6:30-44 and John 6:1-15
  • I Wonder…:  what made Jesus want to stay with the crowd? how there was food leftover? what the disciples thought? if you have heard of God providing bread for his people before?
  • At Home: Do you ever use a commentary? Those are helpful for studying Scripture. For example, the Reformation Study Bible points out that Jesus’ reference to seeing the crowd like “sheep without a shepherd” is what God promised to do in Ezekiel 34. Seeing connections and patterns through scripture is a good thing. Where else have you seen themes of shepherd? Provision of food? The number twelve?

 

Parables

We are in the season of the year in which we learn about Jesus’ miracles and parables.

Parables are stories Jesus used to teach us about God and life in His Kingdom. They often confused, shocked and even angered hearers. In fact, Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 10 that not all who hear the parables will understand or accept them. The passage falls (conveniently) between the Parable of the Sower and an explanation of the Parable of the Sower. Hm. I wonder what that’s about?!

Speaking of wonder, in Godly Play, stories utilize wondering questions as a way to help children explore Scripture. For parables, the questions help consider who the characters are, why the crowds followed Jesus, and what Jesus means when He makes obscure statements like “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.”

Here is an example of those questions:

  • I wonder what this could really be?
  • I wonder if (figures) have names?
  • I wonder how (character) felt?
  • I wonder if you have ever come close to a place like this?
  • I wonder where this (particular) place could really be?
  • I wonder where this whole place could really be?

Something you should also know about parable stories is that there is wondering before AND after the story.

We always start a parable with a bit of theology to help understand what a parable is.

  • The story box is old and gold. A parable is old. It is valuable, like gold.
  • They’re in a box like a present. Parables are gifts to us. We did not earn them. They were given to us.
  • We always knock on the lid because parables have to open up to us! They are not always easy to understand! We must go back to them again and again so that we can understand. They are rich in meaning.

When the parable box finally opens, the children and storyteller wonder about what the colored underlay (sort of like the backdrop for the story set) could be. Is the green underlay a lily pad? If the yellow underlay a warm sun? This is a warmup for the kids! It helps them begin to wonder what the figures in the story might represent. It helps with focus and wondering after the story.

To see what parable your child is learning each week, please remember to check in each Sunday on this blog! There will be an explanation of the story, a memory verse for home and suggested questions for further exploration as a family.

From Pinterest: Parable of the Mustard Seed
From Pinterest: Parable of the Mustard Seed. I wonder if the man was happy that the birds came to the tree he planted?
From Worship Woodworks: Parable of the Great Banquet
From Worship Woodworks: Parable of the Great Banquet. I wonder why the first guests did not want to come to this great banquet?

This Sunday: January 17th

Beulah Land: Jesus’s Baptism and Temptation

  • Memory Verse: John saw Jesus coming toward him and proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”. John 1:29
  • Summary: Last Sunday, we met Jesus as a boy, teaching in the temple. This week, we meet him as an adult and learn about his baptism and then temptation in the desert. Kids LOVE when Jesus responds to the enemy with a firm “No! Get behind me, Satan. I serve God, not you!” and the teacher flicks the Satan figure off of the felt board onto the floor.
  • I Wonder… : why some people listened to John and others didn’t? why Jesus came to be baptized? why he went into the desert? who the enemy is? how we are safe from the enemy?
  • Additional Follow-up: Talk to your child about his/ her baptism story. Talk about your own. Let your child re-enact baptisms with a baby doll!
  • Just in case it comes up: This story is the first in which “the enemy” figure is used. After this story, he is put in a corner of the felt board as he waits and watches for the perfect time to “catch” Jesus. On Easter, he will be thrown down off the board once more and will not make another appearance until we see him as a serpent in Eden next Fall. In my experience, kids become curious about the enemy. He is a bad guy looking to hurt our hero. If your child starts asking questions, please know that is perfectly normal. Evil is big deal for all of us. You don’t have to censor their questions. The curriculum encourages parents to welcome questions, but draw a line at silly or sensational. A good way to answer questions is to do it simply and with straightforwardness… and with the reminder that Jesus has defeated evil and the enemy.

Godly Play I & II: Parable of the Great Banquet

  • Memory Verse: Go out into the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:23
  • Summary: We have kicked off our parable stories! This week is a new one to our classroom…the Parable of the Great Banquet, taken from Luke 14.
  • I Wonder…:  who the guests might really be? why they did not go? what the banquet might really be? if you have ever been invited to God’s banquet?
  • Additional Follow-up: Aren’t parables curious things? In response to a catty statement about being invited to the banquet of God, Jesus, like he does, flipped his audience upside down with a story about inviting the lame and poor to a feast… and not allowing certain others in. That’s on the tail end of exhorting his followers to bless people who could not bless them in return. I WONDER what all of this is about?

 You know we can’t mention this parable without remembering our favorite band, Rain for Roots. and how they tell this important tale!

This Sunday: January 10th

Welcome back to Ordinary Time! That’s the green time between Christmas (white with star) and Lent (where purple starts).

From Pinterest
From Pinterest

It is a time of growing. Like green trees and grass.

Here is what we will learn this week.

Beulah Land: Jesus in the Temple

  • Memory Verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52
  • Summary: This Sunday your child will hear the story of young Jesus going to the temple with his parents. It is told in a way that ties together Old Testament Covenant stories with the Christmas story. It also serves as a bridge leading us to hear the Gospel stories of “grown-up” Jesus (which begin next week!). You can find the passage in Luke 2:41-52.
  • I Wonder… : if Jesus stayed behind on purpose or if it was an accident? why the teachers were so amazed with Jesus’s answers? if you have ever been lost and found?
  • Additional Follow-up: It’s interesting to think about Jesus as a child!  He would have grown up hearing Old Testament stories from Mary and Joseph, not unlike your children. One suggestion Beulah Land suggests is to draw a picture of Mary and Joseph telling Jesus these stories! Here’s an example from their curriculum.

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Godly Play I & II: Parable of the Good Shepherd

  • Memory Verse: I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:11
  • Summary: This Sunday we begin stories about Jesus’ ministry. Over the next few months, your child will learn about his parables and miracles. We will begin with The Parable of the Good Shepherd, a story Jesus gives us about a shepherd who leads, protects, finds and rescues his sheep. This is a different sort of parable in that Jesus also makes the declaration; “I am the Good Shepherd.” I’ve chosen to lead with this one for several reasons, including that it pulls together Psalm 23, John 10, Matthew 18, Luke 15 (and our Communion lesson!) in a way that helps link the Old Testament with the New. It helps form the grid through which the kids begin to filter this set of Scripture stories by naming who this amazing man is.
  • I Wonder…:  if you have ever been in a dangerous place? have felt good grass and tasted fresh water? who these sheep could really be?
  • Additional Follow-up: There really are so many neat things you could do to re-tell this story at home. You could make sheep and a pen (or set up stuffed animals in the roles). You could draw pictures of the story. You could read Psalm 23 and wonder together about what “valley of the shadow of death” might be for humans. How can God’s rod and staff comfort us? That’s a wonder filled thought! You could even look up pictures of sheep and shepherds online. For older kids, use a concordance to see how many times shepherd/sheep are mentioned in the bible and read those passages together. How are they connected?
From Godly Play Resources
From Godly Play Resources

Epiphany Sunday: January 3rd

This week is known to Christians as Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany means “manifestation” and commemorates when Christ was revealed to the Gentiles, who are represented by the Magi. Epiphany itself falls on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas and is known by some cultures as Three Kings Day.

We typically use an Epiphany lesson in Godly Play this week to talk about the Magi and their visit to the Christ child. Since we have new stories to implement this semester, we included information about the Wise Men in an earlier story and will not use the Epiphany story during this year’s spiral. Don’t worry…we’ll go back to it next year! It’s a cool one.

Our room colors will remain white, however. Next week we will be back in Ordinary (green, growing) time!

Beulah Land: Simeon

  • Memory Verse: My eyes have seen your salvation…a Light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people, Israel! Luke 2:30a, 32
  • Summary: This week’s story picks up after Christ’s birth when his parents take him to the temple to offer firstborn sacrifices. There, they encounter an elderly man, Simeon, who has been waiting for the Light of the World to, as the story words it, “grow and shine and fill the world and bring light to the people who were poor and sick and lonely and scared.”
  • I Wonder… : why Simeon believed the Light of the World was coming? why he kept on looking for Christ after years of nothing happening? how he knew baby Jesus was the Light of the World?
  • Additional Follow-up: Simeon was an old man. He had waited a LONG time for the arrival of Christ! Talk about waiting with your child. Have them ask an older believer (like a grandparent) a story about waiting for Jesus. Begin making connections between Old Testament stories and Christ. Our favorite New Zealand kids have another video that might help!

Godly Play I & II: Holy Baptism

  • Memory Verse: Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. Acts 2:38-39
  • Summary: Today children will talk about baptism. Baptism can be a difficult topic among Christians as there are many beliefs about when and why we use this sacrament. What your children will hear today is that Christians baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They will also hear God’s name as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. They will also learn that all ages of people are baptized. However, since we are from a reformed tradition and hold to the belief and practice of paedobaptism (Infant Baptism), the lesson will use a baby to display baptism.
  • I Wonder…:  if you have been baptized? if you can remember seeing someone baptized? what it means to be baptized? if you remember the song Red Mountain sings when someone is baptized into the church?
  • Additional Follow-up: Sing I Am Jesus Little Lamb together. Remind your child of his/her baptism story. Practice baptizing baby dolls at your house and see what all your child has noticed from baptism services! Parents, here is a video for you that gives a good explanation of Covenant Theology and infant baptism if you are curious!