Monday, May 18, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 7: Known by the Holy Spirit, our lesson for May 24.
This week we get to share with the children the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost as told in Acts 2:1-21

What a perfect time to not only share the story of the events of Acts 2:1-21, but to lead the children DURING the Godly Play lesson into an exploration of what the Holy Spirit is, what it did for the disciples and what it does for us today. A good time in the script to insert this is after you relay what Peter said, quoting Joel.

Here's the part of the script as I would amend it:
(original script)
Peter stepped into this chaos with a confidence                 
and calm that the disciples had never seen before.
"These people are not drunk, like you think.  After
all, it is only morning. What has happened is what              
the prophet Joel wrote about. He said that God will
pour out God's spirit on us so that our sons and 
daughters will prophesy, the young will see visions,
and the old will dream dreams. 

(section you might add to help children get the concept of the Holy Spirit)
The pouring out of God's spirit was God's gift of the 
Holy Spirit. But was the Holy Spirit? Jesus had talked 
about the Holy Spirit and when he did, he called it the
Comforter. He had told the disciples that it would come        
after He left them. And now it was here! But what would 
it do? Jesus had talked about that too and we can find it in the         
book of John. Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit ...
1. helps people see what they've done wrong and points
them to God
2. helps people do what is right
3. helps us understand the Bible
4. prays for us-the Bible says that He prays to God when
we sometimes don't know how or what to pray. Helps us
through our hard times
5. helps us find out what our special gifts are so we can use 
them to help others

The Holy Spirit had come! It had happened!

(the original script picks back up here)
Many passed on by to keep their great traditions and live        
good lives. Others listened and became baptized.....                     

(Continue with rest of the script.)

You can see that I've included questions about the Holy Spirit in my wondering questions.
Wondering Questions
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of this story.
2. We know now that the mighty wind signaled that something special was happening, the arrival of the holy spirit. I wonder how it felt to have God's spirit poured out on you.
3. Before Pentecost the disciples felt the love from Jesus. At Pentecost the holy spirit helped the disciples feel the love inside them.  I wonder how the love helped the disciples do their work.
4. I wonder how the holy spirit can help you.

I really hope that if you're in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you'll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story.  Those connections can be so meaningful.

 Idea Sparkers for Our Gift to God Time

1. Flame hats or headbands
In some Christian churches church officials wear flame shaped hats to remind us of the flames seen over Christ's followers on the day of the first Pentecost.
Why not show a picture of such a hat and let the kids design how they want to do their own. It doesn't have to look like that one. Have fun foam or cardboard or fabric on hand- and long strips of large construction paper for the band part.

2. Flame portrait
As followers of Christ, let each child draw themselves as a disciple, with flames at the top of their heads. These flames could be added with tissue paper or paint or whatever they choose.

Creative commons Photo by flickr's cheerytomato
  3. Make pinwheels or kites or windsocks to remind us of the mighty wind that filled the house. 
There are great instructions for making a pinwheel here. If the kids want to make a kite, you can find instructions for making a real working one here, or just cut a kite shape out of paper and kids can decorate it as they want, hopefully with the story of Pentecost in mind.
Or make a Pentecost windsock, as shown here.

4. Doves
Since the symbol of the holy spirit is the dove, why not make flame colored doves (yellow, orange, red) and hang them from the ceiling to remind us of Pentecost. There are directions for doves here. Or make an origami one as shown in the video below.
Creative commons licensed photo by upsidedownapril
5. Birthday Cake-Since we celebrate the birthday of the church as we remember Pentecost, you could bring plain cupcakes to Sunday school and allow time for the kids to frost them and decorate them. If you're feeling brave, you could have each child light a candle for their cupcake and remember the gift of the spirit, which looked like flames above each follower's head.

Enjoy! And take photos, please! :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 6: Known in Waiting

 Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 6: Known in Waiting, our lesson for May 17.

This week we get to share with the children the story of Jesus' ascension as told in Luke 24:50-53 and chapter 1 of Acts.

What a wonderful opportunity to again talk about the disciples' experience with having  Jesus right beside them, and then having to learn to live with him in a completely different way. The children  have not witnessed this event of course, but most know what it feels like to be left or abandoned-even temporarily-by someone they love- or to feel afraid of what that might be like. For modern Christians whom have never had the joy of having Jesus physically with us, it takes some thinking to imagine what that must have been like, and then to have it taken away.

In addition to discussing the story itself, this Sunday is a good time to talk about the idea that feelings are not always the truth of what is really happening. When bad things happen we may feel abandoned by God, but that is not the truth. God never abandons. So what do we do when we have these feelings and fears? What did the disciples do? They did what Jesus told them to do.They waited and prayed and obeyed Jesus' commands until they would be with Jesus again in heaven. As in the sermon last Sunday, they did the ordinary things of living as they waited on God. They chose a replacement for Judas. They went on with life, holding onto each other and to prayer. 

I hope that if you're in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you'll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story.  Those connections can be so meaningful.

Here are the wondering questions for Sunday.
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of today's story.
2. I wonder if you've ever been left behind. I wonder how that feels.
3. Before Jesus disappeared he told the disciples that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I wonder what they thought would happen. I wonder what they thought the Holy Spirit was. I wonder what you think the Holy Spirit is.
4. When Jesus vanished, I wonder if he was really gone. I wonder how he was still with the disciples.
5. I wonder where you are in this story. I wonder what part of this story is about you?

Ideas for Our Gift to God Time
1.Today would be a great time for children to put all the Eastertide stories together in one project. They could do this as a class with a mural, with pairs of children working on a single story of this series, or they could put it together in a little booklet like the one below.
 For the example I made here I took 12" x18" pieces of construction paper from the paper closet, cut each of them into 3 long strips of 4"x 18" and folded each accordion-style into 6 sections.

I went ahead and labeled each section with the story title: Known at the empty tomb, Known on a walk and at the inn, Known by his scars, Known at Breakfast, Known at the Great Commission, and Known on the hillside. You could also add where each scripture is found in the Bible. Then children can illustrate each block.

2. Another idea is to celebrate the ascension story on its own by making your own Ascending Jesus, as shown in this kit from Oriental Trading.
You don't need a kit to make this- just a solo cup and string and paper. It would be much more meaningful for the children to make it their own way, drawing their own Jesus and constructing it as they want, like the children here have done. (Scroll down and see below.)


Other ideas? You could show the children images that artists have created showing the ascension and ask them to do their own watercolors or drawings of how they think it might have happened. It's a mystery, so it would be interesting to see how they picture it.

Thank you all! Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 5: Known in Making Him Known

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 5: Known in Making Him Known, our lesson for May 10.
What an important lesson this is, the scripture from Matthew 28:16-20 in which Jesus tells his disciples to go everywhere and tell His story, teach people to be disciples, and baptize them. As the story script says, the disciples had been followers and now they had to be leaders, they had been sheep and now it was time to be shepherds. But they didn't need to be afraid, because Jesus says he will be with them always, "to the end of the age."

 There are several different aspects of the story that you may choose to emphasize:
1. The meeting itself of Jesus with the disciples on the mountain.
2. Jesus' command to go to people everywhere and make them disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey his commands.
3. Jesus' assurance that He will always be with us.

Here are some wondering questions to also use:
1. I wonder what was your favorite part of today's story is.
2. I wonder how the disciples felt about Jesus telling them to go everywhere and tell Jesus' story. 
3. I wonder how you would feel if Jesus asked you to go to a new place and tell Jesus' story.
4. I wonder where we are in Jesus' story. I wonder how we become part of it.
5. Jesus said he would be with disciples forever. I wonder how he was with them. I wonder how we find him with us.
6. I wonder how you and I can share Jesus' story with others.

Ideas for Our Gift to God Time
You may choose to focus on the Great Commission, Jesus' command to go everywhere, make disciples, baptize them and teach them the way.
1. Children could make the craft seen here, a world made out of clay, studded with flags from other countries. You could have a print out of flags from different countries that the kids could work from, copying the flags, putting them on toothpicks and dotting the clay world. 

2. Kids could make a suitcase out of construction paper like the one shown here, and inside write or draw what you would need to take to go places to tell Jesus' story. Where would they could choose to go if they could pick? They could draw a pretend photo of themselves as a missionary in a foreign land.

3. You could talk about how we are missionaries every day, right where we live. Children could draw a list of ways they share Jesus' story in their own lives. (Operation Inasmuch, mission projects that they've taken part in, bringing food to church to donate to Mission Backpack, etc.)
4. Children could  color a map that shows Paul's missionary journeys, and then color a world map, highlighting places they've learned about in Children on Mission.
5. Children could make a self portrait, titled "I'm a Disciple." They could do this with pencil and then color with watercolors or paint. Or they could use butcher paper and have someone trace their whole bodies and color it in with markers or paint.
6. They could focus on Jesus' promise to be with us until the end of the age. Children could draw a picture of themselves with Jesus --or show ways that Jesus is with us (as we read the Bible or pray or serve others.)

The more they incorporate their own ideas into their projects, the more ownership they have, and the more excited they will be about their work.

Thanks, y'all!
Please remember to take photos if you can! :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 4: Known in the Morning

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 4: Known in the Morning, our lesson for May 3.
This week we enjoy yet another goose-bump raising story, that of Jesus' appearance to seven disciples at the sea of Galilee, told in John 21:1-24.
There are several different things you may choose to emphasize to the children:

1. The miracle in the boat. The men had caught nothing on their own. But when Jesus was in charge, "they could feel all the fish moving into the nets." They were shocked to find that the man on the shore was Jesus, sitting by a campfire, cooking fish for their breakfast. With Jesus' direction, there were fish. Without it, no fish. What does this say to us?

2. Jesus' words of direction to Peter when Peter said he loved Jesus: "Feed my lambs." If we do love Jesus, we have our work cut out for us. Our job is to take care of each other. How would Jesus have us do that?

3. All through this story, Peter hasn't taken his eyes off of Jesus. But as he walks with Jesus, he turns around, sees John following them, and says, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answers with,"If I want him to live until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" To me, this is Jesus saying,"Keep your eyes on your own paper!" or don't worry about others and their relationships to me. Instead, think about your relationship to me.

4. Another thing that strikes me in this story is that Peter so often messes up, right after discovering some profound truth! He promises that he will never deny his Lord, and then denies him three times. He says, Yes I'll do your will, I'll feed your sheep...and then gets concerned about what John is doing. Yet Jesus loves and accepts him and even sees him as a leader, as fault-filled as he is. This gives me hope!

Wondering Questions:
.    1.I wonder what your favorite part of this story is.
   2. Jesus tells the men what to do in the boat and they listen and suddenly they start catching fish. I wonder what we can learn from that.
   3.   I wonder how it felt to sit down for breakfast with Jesus. I wonder what you would have said to Jesus if you were sitting there.  
J 4. Jesus tells Peter if he loves him to feed his lambs. I wonder what this means.
 I wonder who are the lambs.
 I wonder what we do to take care of them.
  5. When Jesus and Peter are walking together, Peter notices that John is following them. When Peter asks Jesus about what will happen with John, Jesus tells him not to worry about John or others , but to concentrate on following Him. I wonder what we can learn from that.

Ideas for the Children's Gift to God Time 
Here's some ideas to get the kids started thinking about the work they choose to do around this story.
1. Retell the story through art.
*Could your class make a 3D scene of the story? Could someone build a boat out of clay or pieces of wood? Could someone else make a Jesus figure to sit or stand by a campfire on the shore? You'll need figures of the other disciples too. Kids could make these out of clothespins or paper. Could you use felt or paper to make the sea and the shore? 
Or tell it through a video!

2. Make a Breakfast with Jesus mural/drawing/painting. What it you had been with Peter that morning? Could your kids draw themselves and their friends or family at the breakfast? 

Here's how artist Karen Lucci imagines Jesus cooking breakfast. 

How do your children imagine it? Paint or watercolor or draw the scene.

3. Who are Jesus' Lambs? Children could draw or make a collage from magazine photos of pictures of Jesus' lambs (people of all different ages and races)

4. How Do We Feed His Lambs? Kids could draw or make a collage about all the ways we can feed his lambs-ways we help each other.

5. Jesus Loves Me-Jesus shows Peter how much he loves him in this story, in spite of the 3 times he denied him, in spite of anything. The children could draw themselves with Jesus, writing or drawing what Jesus loves about them.

6. Kids could make "Fish stick" bible bookmarks-rectangular pieces of fun foam, with whatever scripture  you choose. Have decorations on hand-stickers, sequins, markers, etc. Or how about beaded fish?

Thanks y'all!
Enjoy! (And take photos!)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 3: Known in Doubt

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 3: Known in Doubt, our lesson for April 26.
Are you as captured as I am by the expression of Thomas on the story tile for this week? He looks so worn and ashamed of his doubt, wanting to believe, yet in such need of seeing the wounds for himself.

I love the way the story script tells the story from Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:19-29. It describes the mood of the group of disciples gathered-with the doors shut, afraid for their lives. And then suddenly from within the group someone says, "Peace be with you," and they realize it is Jesus.

They think he's a ghost but then he eats a piece of fish. He wishes them peace again and he's gone. Thomas comes to the group and hears the story of what happened but can't believe. I like that the script does not find fault with this. "And why wouldn't he doubt? Their minds were stretching, stretching to be big enough to know Jesus in this new way."

Then, eight days later, the disciples are again in a locked room and Jesus appears, this time with Thomas present. Thomas doesn't have to ask. Jesus approaches him and shows him the scars, inviting him, "Touch me." Of course he falls on his knees. When Jesus says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe," goosebumps rise on my arm. Yours too?

I bet children will identify with Thomas, particularly the older ones. They've been told so many things and have been disappointed to find they were duped. Proof makes belief so much easier. Older children might like to talk about belief and doubt. We shouldn't be afraid to share our own experiences and hear theirs.
For younger children, this is a great story to have in their back pocket, so that when times of doubt and questions do arise when they're older, they remember one who loved Jesus and whom Jesus loved who experienced the same feelings.

So, how do we help the children process the story?
If you are in a classroom where all the materials are near available to the children (if you aren't, I'd love to help change that--there's money for shelves for your circle) I hope you'll consider going along with the Godly Play script and letting the children gather items that help tell the story. It will be interesting to see the connections they make.

Here are our wondering questions for the lesson:

1. I wonder what is your favorite part of the story.
2. I wonder what the disciples thought when Jesus appeared to them in the locked room.
3. I wonder why Thomas needed to touch Jesus' wounds.
4. I wonder what Thomas thought when Jesus appeared and came up to Thomas and said, "Touch me."
5. I wonder if  you've ever had doubts about anything. I wonder how that feels.
6. I wonder what we can do when we have doubts about believing.

Some Thoughts on Our Gift to God Time:
How can we help the children to re-live this story? Here are a few ideas:

1. Retelling the story through art or drama
a) Kids could act out the story in your classroom. Make it dramatic. Shut the doors. Do the acting out in candlelight. Each child could play a part. The camera in the drawer in the hallway can videotape, if you want to do that.

b) Kids could draw the scenes of the story. The first appearance of Jesus. His eating of a piece of fish. Thomas's skepticism of the story. Then Jesus' appearance to Thomas and his touching Jesus. This could be done with markers or paint or three dimensionally with clay. It could be a class project on a mural or done individually.
c) There is also a craft ideas for responding to this story with art here .

2. Digging into the theme of the story of believing without seeing.
a) Children could make a banner for the classroom or a bulletin board that says, "Blessed are those that do not see, but still believe. John 20:29"-or whatever verse or message they pick that they feel tells the story. What illustrations would they want to decorate it with? I'm sure they'd have ideas.

b) Kids could make an illustrated list of ways to handle their doubt. What do they do when they doubt? Read the Bible? Talk to their parents? Talk with their teachers? Pray? Think hard about it? Or they could illustrate the statement: I can ask God for help with my doubt.

c)Children could discuss what faith really is and illustrate "What faith in Jesus means to me." or make an "I Believe" door hanger or sign and decorate it however they like-with stickers or sequins or markers. We have some foam stickers in the game room on the craft table if you want to use them.

Enjoy! And thank you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 2: Known in the Breaking of the Bread

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 2: Known in the Breaking of the Bread, our lesson for April 19.
What a remarkable story from Luke 24:13-35. Two followers of Jesus (Cleopas and another unnamed) are walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, talking about what had just happened to Jesus, and they meet a stranger on the road who asks them what they are discussing. The stranger is Jesus, but they don't recognize him. The two are speechless until Cleopas says, "Are you the only person who doesn't know?" Jesus then asks him to explain, and Cleopas says that they are talking about Jesus of Nazareth, "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;  but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." Then he adds that some women went to the tomb and couldn't find his body and came back with stories of seeing angels who told them that he was alive.
Then the stranger calls them foolish and slow and says, "Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things before entering his glory?" He explains what was said by Moses and the prophets about Jesus in all the scriptures. 
As they near the village, the men ask the stranger (Jesus) to stay with them. As they settle down to eat together, Jesus takes the bread, says the blessing, breaks the bread and hands it to them, and suddenly they recognize who he is. At that moment, Jesus disappears from their sight. They say to each other, "Wasn't it like a fire burning in us when he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?" 
Of course they rush back to Jerusalem to tell the 11 disciples. 
How moving! The children are sure to be amazed with this scripture. 
Be sure to check out how the Godly Play script shares these verses. It's beautiful.
So, how do we help the children process the story?
If you are in a classroom where all the materials are near available to the children (if you aren't, I'd love to help change that--there's money for shelves for your circle) I hope you'll consider going along with the Godly Play script and letting the children gather items that help tell the story. It will be interesting to see the connections they make.

Here are some wondering questions for this lesson:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of today's story is.
2. I wonder what the most important part of today's story is.
3. I wonder what God is trying to teach us with this story.
4. The stranger talked to them about how the Jewish people had been trapped in so many ways and that prophets said a little child would lead the people out of being trapped. I wonder how Jesus helped the people from being trapped. 

Some Thoughts on Our Gift to God Time:
How can we help the children to re-live this story? Here are a few ideas:

This one is my favorite:
1. Why not literally walk through the story with the children? If the weather is good, I think it would be great to take a walk around the church, and as you walk, ask the children what the men must have said to each other, being so confused and scared and disappointed with what had happened. Help them imagine encountering a stranger. (You could even have one of the teachers play that role!)  You don't have to talk about the story the entire walk, but physically walking and talking about it to some degree helps the children imagine it and remember it.
When you return to the classroom, why not have bread and juice waiting and sit down and share what it must have been like to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread--and then have him vanish! I bet if the children walk through this experience, they won't forget it!
2. Act out the story in the classroom. Take photos!

3. Illustrate the segments of the different parts of the story: 
a)the two men walking, scared and confused,
b)the encounter with the stranger
c)what the stranger said, that a little child would come to lead the people and that someone would suffer and die so that we could really be alive
d) the meal at the inn
e) Jesus vanishing
f) the two followers rushing back to tell the disciples
4. Need other ideas? There's a whole bunch here.

Other ideas? Please share!
Thank you for all you do!
Love, Becky

Monday, April 6, 2015

Knowing Jesus in a New Way 1: Known in Absence

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 1: Known in Absence, our lesson for April 12.
This week's story always gives me goosebumps-especially the moment when Jesus calls Mary's name and she recognizes him. It's hard to think of a story that would be more full of suspense and fear and joy, and the script for this Godly Play lesson does such a great job of sharing all of that with the children. I'm so glad that we don't have to cram all of the after-Easter stories into Easter Sunday! It's a luxury to be able to enjoy them and study them over several weeks.

The script is shared in the book that comes in the basket with your story tiles. This series is told much like the Easter series, with each lesson shared in a weekly tile, presented in sequence. The book suggests that after the story is shared, that you give the children time to find something among your Godly Play materials that helps further tell/illustrate the story. I hope that if you have the materials out in your room that you'll do that. I'll also include wondering questions for you for each week.

Here are the wondering questions for this week. Thank you so much for taking time to jot down responses so that we can share them with the parents.They have shared that they find it meaningful and enjoy feeling connected to what happens in class.

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what your favorite part of today's story is.
2. I wonder what the most important part of today's story is.
3. I wonder if there are any parts of the story we could take away and still have everything we need.
4. I wonder if there are ways we can learn about Jesus even though  he's not here with us. I wonder what those ways might be.
5. I wonder what God is trying to teach us with this story about loving Jesus even when we're not with him.

Gift to God Response Time Ideas:
There are a couple different ways children can respond to the story: either by (1)retelling it through art with the ideas below, or (2) by exploring ways in which they can know Jesus in his physical absence.

(1) Retelling the story of the empty tomb through art.
Children may want to brainstorm how they might represent the empty tomb story with their own ideas. Could they make a cave with clay, and add some strips of linen to the inside, with a large stone rolled away? Could they build the tomb with Lego or Lincoln Logs (feel free to help yourselves to the materials in the game room.) Or make it out of paper plates?

Could they make the people in the story: the three Marys, Peter and John, Jesus as the gardener?  Could they act out the story for the class using the materials they made? If they choose to do this, please do take photos!

Or maybe they'd like to paint the story or draw it. You could also make the cave as shown here or here  
or here. 

Or if you're in the mood to cook, why make Resurrection Rolls? They turn out sort of like popovers-hollow in the middle like a cave. The recipe is here. You can use the oven in the parlor or make them ahead at home.

2) Exploring ways in which they can know Jesus in his physical absence
Hopefully the children will share ideas during the wondering questions of how they can know Jesus even though he's not physically with us. They could work together to illustrate a mural / list of these ways, including reading the Bible stories about Jesus, (ask the children to look through the Gospels and pick out their favorite ones and illustrate those,) listening to teachers and preaching about Jesus, praying, looking at artwork that artists have done about Jesus and his life, studying the Jewish faith that Jesus came from, learning about Jesus from the ways other Christians treat people. (This is a tricky one, isn't it?)
 I'm sure the children will think of even more ideas of ways to learn about Jesus.

Children could also explore how they "see" Jesus in other people. How can we act to make sure people see Jesus in us? This could be a great subject for a mural or class project.

I hope these ideas help!
Love, Becky