Ordinary Sunday: January 28th

GP I: Parable of the Great Pearl

Memory Verse: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

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?

Additional Follow-Up: Talk with your 3-4 year olds about things that are precious to them. What is valuable? Wonder together why we have those things. Wonder about what God says is valuable.

GP II: Parable of the Sower

Memory Verse: Blessed is the man whose delight it the law of the Lord… he is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season. Psalm 1:2a & 3a

Summary: This week your children will hear the Parable of the Sower. This parable about a farmer who plants seeds to discover four different outcomes, is told in Mark 4, Matthew 13 and Luke 8.

I Wonder…:  who the sower might be? what surprised the sower most? what the sower was doing while the seeds were choked by the weeds? who those birds might really be?

Additional Follow-up: This is one parable that Jesus explaned to the disciples. Why not try to read the parable with your children this week and talk about how Jesus explained it? If you garden (or want to plant a bean seed in a Styrofoam cup), that would be an easy illustration to use at home for deeper understanding of the parable.

GP III: 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

He has brought me to his banqueting table and his banner over me is love. Songs 2:4

Summary: We are kicking off our parable stories! This week we will hear the Parable of the Great Banquet. It is 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!

Ordinary Time: January 21st

Godly Play I: 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 does God’s rod and staff comfort us? I wonder what it means to be safe?

From Godly Play Resources
From Godly Play Resources

Godly Play II: Parable of the Leaven

Memory Verse: The Kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough. Matthew 13:33

Summary: This Sunday we begin stories about Jesus’ ministry. Over the next few months, your child will learn about his parables and miracles. This parable, also known as Parable of the Yeast, is found in Matthew 13 and Luke 13. It is very short–basically the length of a verse.  Leaven is what permeates the bread dough so that it will become fluffy. Remember that in Exodus, the Hebrews were instructed to not wait for bread to rise in their flight from Egypt? They had to leave right away. They continued that feast every Passover using unleavened bread. This parable is about a dough with leaven. What might Jesus be saying about His kingdom permeating the world?

I Wonder…: what Jesus meant when he said the kingdom is like leaven/yeast? where you have seen bread like this in Scripture before? how it is different from that bread?

Additional Followup: Make bread!!! Don’t forget to sing the Rain for Roots song!

Godly Play II: Jesus Feeds the 5000

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: This Sunday we begin stories about Jesus’ ministry. Over the next few months, your child will learn about his parables and miracles. Our older kids are starting New Testament stories today with a miracle. 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?

From Worship Woodworks

Ordinary Time: January 14th

Godly Play I, II & III: 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! This is a good book if your young child ever wonders about their baptism!

Epiphany: January 7th

This week is known to Christians as Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany means “manifestation” or “showing forth” 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 (and also the culmination of the 12th Night or 12 Days of Christmas) All three of our classes will have an Epiphany lesson today.

Epiphany

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: The children will review the lessons from Advent briefly then stop to focus on the Wise Men/ Magi. They will discuss (and smell!) the gifts they brought to King Jesus.

I Wonder…: I wonder how the Magi knew to follow the star? I wonder how they decided what gifts to bring? I wonder what they thought when they saw Jesus? I wonder if they expected a child? I wonder how they knew he was King?

Additional Follow-Up: This is a favorite lesson among Godly Play volunteers and children alike! It engages our senses and wonder as we think through what the bible tells us about these men who traveled to meet this child. They were not Jewish, yet they recognized Jesus as King. This might be a good time to talk about the pictures we get in scripture of God opening his family to include Gentiles. You could also do a simple google search of how people across the world commemorate this day. You can also go read the story of the Wise Men. Little children could act the story out. Older children can engage more conversational questions, but I bet all ages would like to draw pictures/ scenes of what they liked best (or least) about the story or smell myrrh again!