Lent Sunday: February 28th

Beulah Land: Parable of the Sower

  • Memory Verse: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
  • Summary: For the last several weeks, your child has learned about some of Jesus’ miracles. Today we are turning our Lenten journey to parables. We will begin with a parable told in three Gospels (Mark 4, Matthew 13, and Luke 8). It is the parable of a farmer who plants seeds– with four different outcomes. Scripture does not always give us an explanation for parables. This one, however, is one parable that Jesus explained to the disciples. I wonder why that is?
  • I Wonder… : why the sower threw seeds into so many different types of ground?  if he thought he was wasting the seed?  if the people knew the story was about more than just seeds? what else they thought the story was about? what it means to hear the story and let it change you?
  • Follow up Ideas: Plant some seeds! Take a walk together to examine the types of soil you find. Put both of those activities together to see what happens when you put seed in different types of soil.

Godly Play I & II: Faces of Easter III

  • Memory Verse: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
  • Summary: We are three Sundays into Lent, the season in which we prepare for Easter. We are using a set of stories that walk through the life of Christ. Today’s lesson focuses on the baptism of Jesus by his cousin, John the Baptist. This is the first account we have of adult Jesus in Scripture.
  • I Wonder…:  if anyone in our family has been baptized? if this story reminded you of any other stories? why God told everyone that he was pleased with Jesus?
  • Additional Followup: This might be a good time to revisit the topic of baptism. Talk about your child’s baptism or your own. You can talk more about John the Baptist. Look up pictures of the Jordan River. You can also talk about the presence of Trinity– God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That is something to really wonder about!
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Lent Sunday: February 21st

Beulah Land: The Transfiguration

  • Memory Verse: For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome… Deuteronomy 10:17
  • Summary: Today story takes us to Mark 9 where your children will hear about the Transfiguration and healing a boy possessed by a demon (the story just says that the boy was sick–not to deny the reality, but to present what a 3-year-old can understand).
  • I Wonder… : if Jesus just looked different on the mountain or if he really was different? why the disciples were afraid? how they knew those other two were Moses and Elijah? if this story reminds you of others? why Jesus’ disciples could not heal the boy?
  • For Parents: Perfect timing since we’ve covered this passage over the last few weeks in the main worship service! The transfiguration is so hard to wrap the brain around. I WONDER how it will strike your 3-year-old? Something interesting to do with your child would be to talk about this story again and then have him/her draw a picture of Jesus. Be curious about it. I bet you’d find out a lot of what your child is thinking about him!

Godly Play I & II: Faces of Easter I

  • Memory Verse: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:52
  • Summary: During Lent, we are using a set of stories that walk through the life of Christ. They are called “Faces of Easter.” Last week, we focused on the “face” of Jesus as a newborn. This week, we will focus on the “face” of Jesus as a young boy in the temple.
  • I Wonder…:  what you liked best about this story? what part is most important? what other stories this one reminds you of? what it was like for Jesus to be left at the temple?
  • Additional Followup: Maybe you’d enjoy making a “Faces of Easter” tree at your house. Use a branch in a jar. Make a second ornament of Jesus as a boy. Cut those out and hang them on the tree. Wonder together about what Jesus was like as a boy.

Godly Play Order of Worship

Did you know we have a routine in Godly Play? By routine, I mean a schedule that we repeat each week. And we do!

Routines are helpful to children (and adults!) for numerous reasons. Routines help us feel safe. They help us know what to expect AND they also allow us to anticipate what will happen next. As contrary as it sounds, a routine can actually help kids make changes… which is good because if life is anything, it is one big constant change!

Since children are growing quickly and learning consistently, AND since we value creating a space in which children can feel free to engage God through Scripture without fear of asking a wrong question or not knowing an answer, we use a routine.

Godly Play has even created one for us to utilize. It’s based on a worship service order! Below you will find the order of Godly Play at our church.

Getting Ready
Kids line up outside the door of their classroom. The storyteller is already inside, ready to welcome kids into the room. The doorkeeper stands at the door and asks each child, “Are you ready for Godly Play?”. If the child is, he will walk in, get a mat and join the circle. If she is not, or isn’t sure, she can go to the back of the line to take a few breaths or have a few extra seconds to ready herself. This is similar to what we do in our adult service when we sit in silence before we begin to ready ourselves to receive God’s Word.

Acknowledging God’s Presence
The storyteller greets each child as they come to the circle. Sometimes the storyteller has to help the kids find seats that will be less distracting (wink, wink), but often they are just able to smile and remind each child how happy we are to see them there. Once everyone is seated, the storyteller will ask if everyone is ready. He/she will then get up to light candles on a holder that looks like the three-pronged candle stand we use in the adult worship service. The storyteller will say something like this, “Jesus said that where ever two or three are gathered in His name, He will also be there! Jesus is God and our God is 3-in-1. That really is something to wonder about! Let’s name the three persons of God.” The storyteller and the children will together say, “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit” as the storyteller lights the candles. They remain lit through the entire Godly Play schedule.

Story
Next up is the story! Children remain in the circle and watch the storyteller bring a story set to the middle of the circle. The storyteller then tells the story while they kids listen.

Wondering
This is the time in which the storyteller and children utilize “wondering questions”. These are questions aimed at getting children to reflect and think about the story they just heard. These encourage children to share their pondering and often lead to more questions and new observations.

Often parents share that they overhear their child saying, “I wonder” more when they begin Godly Play! Asking “why?” is where the work of theology begins… and children are often the best in our church at asking “why”! They are starting a (hopefully lifelong) process of exploring Scripture and seeking God and His Word with their questions.

Respond with Work
This is a time of response. In lieu of a specific craft or worksheet, children are invited to choose a way to respond to the story and integrate the Scripture with their own experiences. Children integrate knowledge through play. It’s their way of understanding the world. One way to think of this is like adults give an offering in grateful response to what God has given to us. Children respond with play and creativity.

Some children choose a story set to play with. They will play quietly, loudly, or even tell another child the story using the set. Some children choose the desert box. (The desert box is a popular one as it is full of things to wonder over! A lot of important things happened in the desert…)

Children also integrate through creativity. Using different craft supplies, children are allowed to continue exploring their thoughts and reactions to the story and wondering questions.

Some children select some art supplies to draw a picture from the story, or create a “people of God” figure. We want children to come “as they are”, which means we want them to engage the story “where they are”…not having to have things figured out already, but as learners. Perhaps one child is considering  the sheep who the Good Shepherd rescued, so he draws a picture of a lost sheep. Another child might have heard the same story, but thought about the sheep following the Good Shepherd’s voice and made several play-doh figures in a line.

Often storytellers will encourage the kids as they pick their work to remember the story as they work. There are occasions when a child draws something like batman or themselves at an event. Sometimes that means they were a little checked out that night (happens to adults, too!). Most of the time, however, I would wager they are learning and expressing concepts the best way they know how. I remember babysitting some siblings who drew a picture of heaven with an icing river and trees made of candy. It looked more like Wonka’s chocolate factory to me, but to them, it was the way they knew how to convey joy, delight and fulfillment…which are things we will encounter in the new heavens and new earth. This blogger explains work/response time well.

Prayer and Feast
After work, children will put away their supplies and story sets and come back to the story circle. We will feast together on goldfish and water and pray together. Typically, we use either the Lord’s Prayer, the doxology, or the “God Our Father” song.

This is often the time when storytellers and doorkeepers get to talk to the kids, who share prayer requests or highlights/lowlights from their week. We move the arrow on our church calendar as well.

Our children at RMC come back downstairs for the actual feast — communion. We don’t teach that our feast is communion, but we do hope that children make a connection between sharing food and being together with other believers.

Dismissal
The storyteller and doorkeeper help the kids throw away their trash, put up their carpet squares and get back in line to join the service downstairs. As the kids line up and leave, the storyteller dismisses children with a blessing. It’s not formal, it’s actually often just a “I’m so glad you came!” or “I love how you wondered today!” the idea is to help children remember their presence is valued. This church and these stories are for them as much as they are for adults.

Once the kids are lined up, they walk back to the service to be with their families for Communion and then for the Benediction.

Lent Sunday: February 14th

Beulah Land: Jarius’s Daughter

  • Memory Verse: The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
  • Summary: Today your children will hear two stories in one: the healing of a beloved daughter and the healing of an outcast woman. You can find this passage in Mark 5:21-43. We will also see the Lent spiral again, this time with the figure of Jesus making His way to Jerusalem.
  • I Wonder… : how Jarius felt when Jesus stopped to talk to the sick woman? what it felt like when Jesus said he felt “power go out” of him? how it feels to be healed by Jesus? what you think is most amazing about this story?
  • For Parents: This passage is an example of a Markan Sandwich (basically a story within a story that helps us understand the passage’s main emphasis). When you come across this literary device, look for similarities and differences, then ask what that might have to do with the passage’s significance. Here are two questions to get you started for this passage: How old is the daughter? How long has the woman been sick?

Godly Play I & II: Faces of Easter I

  • Memory Verse: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
  • Summary: Lent is the season in which we prepare for Easter. We are using a set of stories that walk through the life of Christ. Today’s lesson focuses on the birth of Christ. Something interesting to know about this set of stories is that during wondering time, the children are invited to bring something from another story set that reminds them of the story being told that day. For example, last year when this story was told, one child brought over a card from the Advent story set. Another child brought the Christ figure from the Holy Family set. They are making connections in Scripture!
  • I Wonder…:  what you liked best about this story? what part is most important? what other stories this one reminds you of?
  • Additional Followup: Maybe you’d enjoy making a “Faces of Easter” tree at your house. Use a branch in a jar. Start this week by having your child draw a picture of Jesus as a baby. Cut those out and hang them on the tree. Lent is a time when we remember that Christ is the servant king, who came to serve. How might your family serve each other? What about others?
From Easterkind.blogspot.
(From Easterkind.blogspot.com)

Lent at Home

Photo from: Art, Lent and Kids from CIVA.org
Art, Lent and Kids from CIVA.org

 

Ash Wednesday is this week, kicking off the season of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare ourselves for the wonderful mystery of Easter! For 40 days, Christians all over the world will focus on a special time of reflection, fasting, prayer, repentance and giving.

Several might ask if we should we do these things year ’round? Yes, totally! We are Easter people. Lent is simply a season in which we pause and pay extra attention. It is an intentional conversation in the midst of the everyday discourse about these important topics. Because we believe Easter is vital to our faith and lives, we prepare to celebrate in a special way each year. Lent isn’t required for faith, rather, it is a way to help deepen our faith as we wonder over salvation. Spiritual disciplines like repentance, prayer, fasting and giving offer us opportunities to grow.

In Godly Play, we will begin a series called “Faces of Easter” in which we review stories of Jesus Christ’s journey to the cross and resurrection. In Beulah Land, our three-year-olds will once again see the spiral that led a pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. This time the center is Jerusalem, and we will see Christ making his way there. We anticipate His coming during Advent and now we anticipate the fullness of redemption because of his death and resurrection during Lent.

The picture above is from Christians in the Visual Arts. THIS LINK will take you to a podcast about art, children and Lent. In addition, there are several resources to use on a Pinterest board HERE. Lastly, for you last minute folks (takes one to know one!) a local Birmingham artist has created a Lenten guide for children! Look HERE at her etsy shop to purchase and download the sheets. Feel free to use any of these ideas as launching pads for ways to encounter Lent as a family!

This Sunday: February 7th

Beulah Land: Jesus heals the Paralyzed Man

  • Memory Verse: He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Luke 5:24b
  • Summary: We are continuing our journey into the ministry of Jesus. Today your children will hear about the healing of a paralytic man. This story is found in Luke 5:17-26.
  • I Wonder… : what the man’s friends hoped for when they lowered him down to Jesus? what Jesus thought when the roof started to come off?! what the enemy is waiting and watching for?
  • Additional Follow-up: Talk about what paralyzed means. That’s a big word for little kids! I wonder what it is like to not be able to move? Write a letter to someone who is sick or take them a flower. Pray for someone who is ill.

Godly Play I & II: Jesus in the Synagogue and Upper Room

  • Memory Verse: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… Isaiah 61:1
  • Summary: Today’s story begins with Luke 4:16, where Jesus is in the Synagogue. It ends with Jesus in the Upper Room, instating the Lord’s Supper. This story is aimed at linking Old Testament and New Testament as they meet in Christ. It also helps explain why we read God’s Word and take communion each week together.
  • I Wonder…:  if you have heard Scripture read in the worship service? if you have seen the Lord’s Supper take place? why we do these things as Christians?
  • Additional Followup: This might be a good time to look through the worship folder from Sunday together. Ask wondering questions like, “I wonder what your favorite part of our time together is?” or “I wonder why we do things like have a sermon or take communion?”. HERE is a website that explains some cultural background on Synagogues. There is some interesting overlap in the liturgy we use today, including the use of the Aaronic benediction that John Calvin also tended toward in his order of worship. We also use that one and several other blessings found throughout Scripture in our services at Red Mountain. Moreover, consider how this link between Old and New Testament prepares us for Easter.