Paul was a teacher. You are a teacher. Imagine writing Paul's letter to your students.
From Col. 1:1-2 "Grace and peace to you, (my students)" or "My helper and I send you grace and peace from Father God - our father (my father, your father, our father)."
"Holy and faithful" Paul calls his students. "Brothers in Christ." Do you see your students that way?
from Col 1:3-8
"Dear students! We thank God for you! People tell us how much faith you have! People tell us about your love!" Do people tell us about the faith and love they see growing in our kids? Do we tell our students about the faith and love we see growing in them? Are we growing hope in them? How do you do that? I hope so.
from Col 1: 9-14
Paul's response to hearing all this about his students? "We have not stopped praying for you - that God is filling you up. That you know His will. We pray for you - for spiritual wisdom and understanding. We pray that you live a life worthy of the Lord. We pray that you please him in every way. We pray that good things grow out of every good deed you do. We pray that you keep growing to know God better. We pray that God keeps making you strong with all power the power you need according to his glorious might. We pray for you: for great endurance and patience. We joyfully give thanks to the Father for you! God has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. He has rescued us from the rule of darkness. He has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. Because of Jesus, He's bought us back and forgiven us." He's rescued us from a dark scary place and brought us into the place where His beloved son is boss. Rescues, buying back, forgiving, waiting patiently, light and dark activities would go with some of this. Fruit imagery. Sports imagery.
from Col 1:15-23 Jesus is the image (the picture?) of our invisible God. Jesus is the first-born. What does it mean to be the oldest? Jesus made everything. Everything was made for Him. Is that something selfish? In heaven. On earth. Visible. Invisible. Rulers. Authorities. Jesus came first. Jesus holds everything together. Jesus is the head of His Body. Jesus is the head of the church. Jesus is the boss. Father God was pleased to have the fullness of all that He is, all that God is, to live in Jesus. Jesus helps all who need to make peace with God to make peace with God - things on earth, things in heaven - through the blood He shed on the cross. Anything in there with kids? How about making peace? God is the boss but how does he rule - selfishly, bossing everyone around? He holds everything together. What does that mean? These are more for older kids.
[21-23] Once we were all God's enemies, in our our thoughts, the way we behaved, but Jesus helped us make peace with God. He's made us holy, without imperfections, without anyone blaming us for anything, if we keep believing and hoping. We have to stand on the hope Jesus gives us when we hear His Good News. Every creature on heaven and earth has heard His Good News. Paul, the teacher, has become a servant to that Good News.
from Col 1:24-29 Paul, the teacher, says to his students, I rejoice in what was suffered for you, [this part is harder to understand or maybe you're in a situation where you know exactly what this means: Paul says, I fill up in my flesh with what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.] Paul is a servant - to the gospel? to the church? both? God commissioned this teacher Paul "to present to [his listeners] the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
I was going to ask you what hope is - the hope we offer our kids - "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Paul keeps bringing us back to Jesus.
God revealed lots of things to the Jewish people (the people of the Old Testament) but He chose to reveal this mystery to people who weren't Jewish. The thing about a mystery is that you can't explain it. I can be a very patient person but for whatever reason, it is almost an impossible task for me to intentionally avoid explaining what I think I understand. You can tell, right? But there are mysteries that belong to God - not to us. Things that we can't explain.
"the glorious riches of this mystery. . . " A rich mystery! What makes you rich? Create a treasure chest (drawing, collage - your choice) Fill it with things that make you feel rich. Fill another chest where the only thing in it is "Christ in me, my hope of glory." A mystery that I can't explain. What would go into that treasure chest? Or put the material riches on a flap that you can pull up revealing something to represent the "Christ in me" words under it. Is this a lesson for children? I don't know. Are there ways for kids to ponder some of the things that Paul said in his letters? Probably.
from Col 1:28 "We proclaim him [We proclaim JESUS!], admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Gosh! The energy of Christ. Ponder that one!
Paul says, "We proclaim him..." Christ Jesus in all His fullness, visible image of our invisible God. As I say, Paul keeps pointing His listeners back to Jesus.If you don't consider the children in your community (or the children present in the communities who heard Paul's letters) as among those God intended to do something with the content of Paul's letters then I guess you don't have to worry about any of this. Work that out with God when you see him.
Keep going with Colossians if you want. Try this with Ephesians and the other letters. I'm not trying to teach you something. I'm saying, take Paul's letters. He was a teacher, you are a teacher. Everything Paul intends for "all" his listeners was intended for kids too, if they were part of his listening audience. There are pieces here and there and concrete experiences here and there that you can probably use to create some "lesson activities" but I'm left believing that the heart of understanding Paul's letters for grown-up and child alike is in the doing and I think you can find lots to "do." Start with "one another"s. There's a list here somewhere if you do a [find] in this blog.
Imagine reading these letters to your students. What jumps out at you? What will jump out at them? What can they do with what they hear? You might say that most of the thinking part of this will soar over and through a child's head. Then it is for us to model and to teach children how to live all that Paul gave us. All of the doing is for us, as adults. We can include our children. Whatever we do, they're watching.