Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A long list of Childrens' Ministry Blogs from

Lent 8d Thurs

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 • As far as a family's relationship to an animal goes, this is probably somewhere between keeping a companion animal and raising farm animals for food. Farmers see their animals differently than people who pamper their companion animals. I don't think it's unusual for someone who raises livestock to bring a sick or injured baby into the house for care. But, did you ever do this for Passover? There are sights, sounds, smells, tactile experiences associated with raising an animal in your home, slaughtering, sacrificing, cooking, a family...with children... Did you ever visit a sheep farm with the kids? Have you ever seen an animal slaughtered for meat? Did you ever raise an animal on your farm that you kept specifically for food? Did you ever act out the Passover scenario (without real animals and blood?) Just talking about slaughter and blood is a bit of a culture shock today. You probably wouldn't do that with children, but Israel did. God asked them to do it. He had His reasons.

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 • "I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice . . . Because he inclined his ear to me, [He leaned down to listen to me] therefore I will call on him as long as I live."

Ideas you can ponder with kids: " long as I live..." You have to start somewhere.

Calling on the name of the Lord.

Keeping our promises to God.

I am a child of His serving girl. He has loosened my bonds.

Praise, thanksgiving...

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 • There's that story with the bread & the cup again.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 "Before the feast of the Passover. . . " Passover - a holiday the people of Israel had celebrated every year from the time of Moses...

What did Jesus know going into that last supper with His disciples?

How did Jesus love?

Did you ever act out this story with your kids? It probably helps if everyone walks around wearing sandles in a dry dusty place first. Who usually had the job that Jesus took on? How did the job/role of teacher usually differ from the job/role of the person who washed everyone's feet?

Watch & listen to Jesus as teacher, here. What does He teach us? What does He show us?

Follow the story of Peter after this...

"Little children..." At the very end of the story Jesus gave them a "new" commandment. This was a command - not an option. "You WILL do this! You will!" What did Jesus command them to do?

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another . . ." As we teach, as we learn, is that a driving force? For all the time we spend outside of church and our children spend away from us is this what the world sees? The way we love one another isn't just about us. It's not just for us. It's intended to affect every human being we come in contact with. Children can learn this. Children can do this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lent 8c Wednesday

Isaiah 50:4-9a

The "tongue of a teacher that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. . . " a single word... Can you think of single words to help someone when they're weary or tired? Is that something children can do?

Children wake up every morning just like grown-ups "Morning by morning he wakens-- wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught." I love the imagery here. Do we wake up every morning with our ears open eager to learn something from God? Children can do that.

What does it mean to be rebellious or to turn back when someone is trying to teach you something? For a child? Do you see it more easily through the eyes of the teacher or through the eyes of the learner?

After talking about teaching and learning we have verses about abuse. Does it jar you? Why is it here? We think of Jesus but is His crucifixion the only context for this?

Verses 7-9 are full of hope. I've always loved the imagery of setting "my face like flint." A good friend of my mother in-law's gave us this gift when we were married. She made it.

Psalm 70 • A prayer for help. You can take the NIRV and pull out verses for prayers. Is the Psalmist being mean to his enemies to pray like this?

Hebrews 12:1-3 • I love the imagery here, too, especially for children. You have the cloud of witnesses. Who are they? You have something you want to get rid of that clings to you. Can you and your kids think of things? (Lint. Stepping in dog poop. Cigarette smoke. Cooking smells. . . ) You have running a race and running it to win. Is it a short race or a long race? What is perserverance? What's a pioneer? What's a perfecter? For the joy that was set before Him he endured something hard, painful, shameful...for joy! Does it make you happy if you win? If you win something that was easy? If you win something that was hard? "Consider him..." Jesus is an example to us young and old so we don't grow weary and lose heart.

John 13:21-32

We have a story. Jesus was troubled. One of His friends was going to turn on him. He knew that. The rest of his friends didn't. Reenact the story. Think about all the times Jesus & his disciples shared. We read the story knowing how it will end. Remember the characters in the story (except Jesus) only know what had happened so far, not what was going to happen.

What happens next is a sad sad story but Jesus said, ". . . the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him . . ." We read this story knowing the ending but perhaps not fully understanding the depth of betrayal and broken trust that happened along the way. . . for pre-teens & teens or any child who ever felt betrayed...Jesus has experienced that, too.

Lent 8b Tuesday

Isaiah 49:1-7

More listening and paying attention...

Are there elements here about God's call and naming us even before we are born that is appropriate for children?

"He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away." Is this Isaiah? Was his mouth like a sharp sword when he was a child? An arrow being sharpened to be hid away until God was ready?

vs 5 formed from the womb to be His servant...formed from the womb with a purpose . . . Is that true of everyone or just special people?

You have a prophet (and perhaps a people) looking to God when he is discouraged and a promise of God in the midst of discouragement.

Psalm 71:1-14

Take the time to look at this person who wrote this Psalm and his relationship to God. The part that caught my attention is this (vs 6-7) "Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. I have been like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. . . " How many observations can you make about the child? The man? God, as he knew Him? Ponder childhood faith and adult faith adult faith in this Psalm. Notice that it doesn't get easier. What skills did he learn as a child that continued to serve him even through hard times as an adult?

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Here we have foolishness & power, foolishness and wisdom... Proverbs talks about fools and children. I guess it isn't about the foolishness, wisdom or power. It's about what God did to draw us near to Him. Is it too far off-center to say that through the stories of Jesus, the reality of what He did, and interacting with Him we come to see and know Him as the power & wisdom of God? I think verses 25-29 are especially appropriate for children and for those of us who love them.

John 12:20-36

Some Greeks came to see Jesus. You can act out the telephone game-likeness of one telling another who tells another who tells...

You have the story (the science & the agriculture) of grain & wheat. Have you ever taken a stalk of grain and rubbed it in your hands or ground the groats to make flour?

vs 25 - words to remember but for how young a listener? vs 26 - something to act out if you talk about serving. There is a story in verses 27-36. You can play with light & dark.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lent 8a - Monday

Isaiah 42:1-9

Here is another story about the Holy Spirit. We also hear about justice.

Someone is special. Someone is "chosen." Children know about that. Here is someone who "will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street. . ." What does that look like? sound like? He won't break "a bruised reed". He won't quench "a dimly burning wick. . ." What does that look like? For your older kids, your teens, do these qualities have something to do with justice?

Something more about justice and a promise, "He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. "

In verse 5 we have visual imagery perhaps reminding us of the creation story. Children know what it means for someone to take them by the hand. "I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness."

vs 9 "See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them." When God does what He says He will do, share it with your children.

Psalm 36:5-11 • Look up at the heavens. God's love extends to the heavens. Look up at the clouds. God's faithfulness extends to the clouds. Look at mighty mountains. God's righteousness is like that. Look at the ocean depths. God's judgments are like that.

And the Psalmist says, "you save humans and animals alike, O LORD." I can never find that verse when I'm looking for it but there it is.

Hiding in the shadow of His wings - a fun fort to create for little ones. Special food, special drink & lots of it.

" give them drink from the river of your delights..." what does that look like? Taste like? Sound like? Not my delights or your delights but God's delights...What can you do with fountains? What can you do with " in your light we see light"

Hebrews 9:11-15

Jesus -" high priest of the good things to come" . What does that mean? What's a priest? What's a high priest? Israelite children would know what a high priest is and they would have life associations.

the blood of Jesus...offered to "purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!"

Look at the nouns. "blood," "calves," "goats," "mediator," "covenant". . . Go through the list of nouns in this passage. Even the action words. Without using theological Christianese...what do they mean to you? What did they mean to the Israelites? What do they mean to children in your faith community? What did they mean to Israelite children?

Is there something to be said about "high church" helping us understand more of the scriptures? How about "low church?"

John 12:1-11

Passover meant something to Israelite children and adults. Bethany. The place where ___ happened. There was a memory associated with this place. Jesus did something. I think I posted about this passage but retell the story. You have a home, dinner, people, perfume ...what 5 senses are engaged? How? What can we learn about Jesus and what He was teaching us about His father?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lent 7

The Vanderbilt Library calls this "The Liturgy of the Passion" (NRSV)

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Isaiah 50:4 reminds me of the story of Samuel.

"Teacher" - can you think of an activity where each child has a turn teaching another child how to do something simple - an activity that requires listening? Example: One child is blindfolded and one child tells the blindfolded person how to....[something very simple]

Fun listening games to be better listeners (recognizing loud/soft, fast/slow, hi/low pitch, recognizing different sounds on a tape, recognizing who is speaking behind a sheet)

vs 50:6-9a Usually punishment and rebellion go together but the speaker says in the previous verse, "I was not rebellious..." In these verses someone is being hurt. Someone is being shamed but they've done nothing wrong, how do they respond? Where is God?

Psalm 31:9-16

Distress & grieving. Have you ever felt like this? Do you know someone who feels like this? What did they ask God for? When someone is gracious to you, what does it look like? What does it feel like? If you are gracious to someone else? Vs. 11. Did you ever feel like that?

What do you do with a broken glass or cup? Did you ever feel like that?

What about the feeling that nobody likes you. Everyone is out to get you?

I don't know that we see the Psalms as so full of so many different feelings and passion. They are a really good opportunity to talk about feelings and sharing our feelings with God. They are a good opportunity to remind children that God hears. The Psalmist talked to God. He also talked to God remembering who God is and what God could do. Sometimes he hoped God would intervene. Sometimes he knew, he expected God to intervene.

The Psalmists shows us how to pray when we feel the same way he felt when he wrote the Psalm or when we are in similar situations. Sometimes he said, "Deliver me!" "Lord, please, get me out of here!"

Philippians 2:5-11

Think like do I do that? He was God. He was born a man. He became a servant. Who did He serve? What makes you say that?

God & Man - what's the same? what's different?

Full and empty. What does that look like? A cup? A basket? What else can you use to think about full & empty? What are we full of? What do we look like when we're full of ______? What do we look like when we're empty? How do we act?

What's a slave? Was it always a bad thing? If a slave was loved and cared for and they loved their master was it bad?

What is humble? What does it look like? What is "obedient to the point of death"? Who was Jesus obeying?

What does it look, feel, sound like when everyone bows? in your class room? In your church? Imagine it in your school, your town, your family...when every tongue says "Jesus is Lord."
Imagine it! Who gets the glory?

Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

The first is the communion story. I think I posted about this somewhere else. You can tell the story with dolls for younger kids. Older kids can act it out while you read it.

Are there other stories in scripture about cups? About bread? About wine? About Passover? About Jesus & His disciples eating and drinking together? About Jesus & blood? What about covenant?

The OT was about God's covenant w/Israel. What is a covenant? What are the stories that came from God's covenant with Israel? How did they affect the children?

Jesus was always talking about the Kingdom of God. What did He say? What more is He telling His disciples during that last supper together?

"Woe to you!" What does that mean? If you get to judge, what does that mean?

The story of Jesus and Peter - another story. Jesus prayed for Peter. What does it mean to sift wheat - not the abstract but the concrete? Use a sifter. Show them.

The story of Jesus praying in the garden - another story. The arrest of Jesus - another story. Jesus' story is different from Peter's story. Jesus' story continues after he was arrested so does Peter's but they are different. They overlap. The story of what happened between Jesus' arrest and His conviction. How many of us have gone to prison? Jesus did. He wasn't guilty but He went to prison. You have the story of Jesus on the cross. Jesus' story continues after He dies.

Different parts of the story, different details, will mean more or less to different ages and experiences.

There are concretes that you can introduce to your younger kids to help them better understand the story. There are customs you can introduce to older kids. You have character observations and decision-making questions... Besides Jesus, and keeping Jesus in the center or our attention, there are many many characters and perspectives to consider in these stories.

We hear these stories every year of our church life but because it is God's living Word there's always something new to see and understand. For the kids you have, their ages and experience what part of this story about Jesus will mean the most to them?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stories about the Holy Spirit

Which stories from scripture are stories about the Holy Spirit? Here! I 've included stories about Jesus telling His disciples about the Holy Spirit, too. Editing this may be an ongoing project. I will keep editing. Turns out the word study in the NIRV is even longer... I was looking at "Spirit of God" & "Holy Spirit" ...but this really isn't a word study. We're looking for stories that tell us something about the Holy Spirit.

I did my initial word search at Bible Gateway with the New International Version but you can read the stories from the NIRV with kids. Some will be better for younger ones, and some better for older ones. I'm just giving you a verse or chapter, not neccessarily the story around the verse. I'm not putting all the cross references here either. Turns out it's a little overwealming. :)

The Creation Story (Gen. 1:2)
The story of Noah (Gen 6:3)
The story of Joseph (Gen 41:38)
The story of Moses (Numbers 11:16-18, Psalm 106:33)
The story of Othniel- Caleb's younger brother (Judges 3:9-11)
The story of Jephthah - (Judges 11:28-30)
The story of Bezalel (Gen 31:3, 35:31)
The story of Balaam (Num. 24:2)
The story of Gideon (Judges 6:34)
The story of Samson (Judges 13+)
The story of Saul (1 Sam. 10:10, 1 Sam 11:6, 1 Sam 19:20)
The story of Saul's men (1 Sam 19:20)
The story of David (1 Sam. 16:13)
The story of David & his 30 men (1 Chron. 12:18) & Psalm 51:11, Mark 12:36
The story of Elijah (1 Ki 18)
The story of Azariah (2 Chron. 15:1)
THIS is a very interesting story in the NIRV (2 Chronicles 18:19-21)
The story of Jahazael (2 Chron 20:14)
The story of Zechariah (2 Chron 24:20)
The story of Job (Job 33:4)
The story of Israel (Is. 63:10, Neh 9)
The story of Isaiah (Is. 30:1, 15, 34:16, 42:1, 44:3, 48:16, 59:21 etc)
The story of Ezekial (Ezekial 2, 3, 8, 11, 36, 37, 39, 43)
The story of Daniel (Dan 1-5)
The stories of the prophets Joel, Haggai, Zechariah, Micah...
The story of John the Baptist (Matt 3:11, especially in Luke)
The story of the conception of Jesus (Matt 1:18)
The story of Jesus & Simeon (Luke 2:25)
The story of Jesus being baptized (Matt 3:16)
The story of Jesus driving out demons (Matt. 12:28) and talking about Beelzebub (Matt 12:32)
One of the stories of Jesus & children (Luke 10:21)
The story of Jesus telling His disciples about the Holy Spirit (John 14, John 16)
The story of Jesus breathing His Spirit on them (John 20:22)
The story of Jesus giving His disciples work to do while He was with them & after he left (Matt 10:20, Matt 28:19, Mark 13:11)
The stories in Acts 1
The story of Pentecost in Acts 2
Stories of Peter in Acts 4 & 5
The story of Stephen in Acts 6& 7
The story of Peter & John in Acts 8
The story of Ananias & Saphaira in Acts 9
The story of the church in Acts 9:31
The story of Peter & Cornelius in Acts 10
The story of Peter in Jerusalem & Antioch (Acts 11)
The story of Barnabus & Saul (Acts 13)

Stories from Paul if you count the churches reading his letters: (Acts, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 28, Romans 8:9, 14, 1 Cor. 2:11, 14, 7:40, 12:3, Eph 4:30, Phil 3:3, 1 John 4:2)

Paul in Rome (Romans 5, 9, 14, 15)
Paul in Corinthians (1 Cor 6, 12, 2 Cor 6, 13)
Paul in Ephesis (Eph. 1 & 4) Colossae, Thessalonika....
The stories of Timothy, Titus, & Jude
1 & 2 Peter ....
The story of John in Revelation 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 17, 21:10, 22

Wow! Who knew there were all these stories that tell us something about the Holy Spirit of God!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lent 6

[Liturgy of the Palms - March 28, 2010
Vanderbilt Divinity Library's Revised Common Lectionary]

In all of these posts I throw out lots of ideas... no one's saying do all of it. Pick one. These are thoughts, ideas, that I think can be presented to or rather shared with children.

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29(NIRV)

where were the children?

thanksgiving - always saying thank you

God is good - who is good to you? what do they do?

Faithful love that continues forever - who always loves you? (real people)

Opening the gate, opening the door - who's door? who can go through the door?

"I will give thanks to you, because you answered me.
You have saved me." thank you! you answered me! when did someone do that? God does too! thank you! you saved me! when did someone do that? God does too!

The stone that the expert builders rejected became the most important stone. What would that look like to children? Build a rock house. What rocks work and what rocks don't?

Be happy for the wonderful things God does - like what?

"Lord, save us.
Lord, give us success." What do your children need help succeeding at? Pray together. If they can't write let each child whisper in your ear. Write it on a slip of paper and put it in a box and pray that God will help with all those things.

"From the temple of the Lord we bless you." - who can you pray for? who can you bless?

"The Lord is God.
He has made the light of his favor shine on us.
Take branches in your hands. Join in the march on the day of the feast." God has shown us that He's happy with us that's why we can take palms in our hands and join in the festivities.

worship: "You are my God, and I will give thanks to you.
You are my God, and I will honor you.
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good.
His faithful love continues forever." Children can learn to say this. How do you honor someone?

Luke 19:28-40 (NIRV) Here is the story of Jesus & the palms

where were the children?

Your older kids can probably begin to remember places and the events (or stories) that took place there: Bethany, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem... Put a map on the wall and pictures for each event that happened there.

Your kids may not relate to a desert environment but Jerusalem is a big city. Some children live in big cities. A village is not a big city. Some children live in villages. Some children live in the countryside. Just points of association for kids to give them a sense of place.

A donkey's colt - big? little? Jesus- Big? Little? What is an animal like who has never been ridden? The significance of a donkey's colt as opposed to a grown-up donkey? A war horse or a stallion? Have there been donkeys in any other Bible stories or stories about Jesus? I read something about the donkey vs the war horse, once. Can't remember where. I think it had to do with Jesus coming in peace. Include info about times & customs & such for older kids.

How would you feel if some stranger were taking your animal? Friend of a friend?

Would you throw your coat on a dusty road for a donkey to walk on? They didn't have dry cleaners. They didn't have washers & dryers. How did they wash their clothes? What would they need? Water? Easy to find in a desert?

The people were so grateful! Would you stand in the streets with your friends and worship God and sing? As Jesus walked along the road they worshipped God. They blessed Jesus. They publically and literally sang His praise and thanked Him for all the wonderful things He did.

They referred to him as king while another king ruled their land. Yet they weren't crying for a take-over. They called out, ". . . may there be peace and glory in the highest heaven. . . "

Why did the religious leaders want Jesus' disciples to stop? What did Jesus say? Imagine the religious leaders forcing all those people to stop and then the stones crying out to worship God instead...imagine! That would make for an interesting Palm Sunday activity - painting happy, joyful, singing faces on rocks and lining them up by the doors.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

switching places

Reverse Sunday School (emerging children's ministry and youth ministry at digital - Australia, I believe.) Interesting perspective? These articles are from '09 and before including some Lent & Easter material. I don't think I ever posted them but maybe. If not, enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lent 5

Isaiah 43:16-21 (NIRV)

The passage starts revisiting a story - not just a story but a story from Israel's past. He reminds them that Israel's enemy was "blown out like a dimly burning flame" - an image that's easy to show children. Then God says, "Forget the things that happened in the past. Do not keep on thinking about them. I am about to do something new. " Sometimes, even children need to hear that.

The imagery is wonderful. The desert. The need for water. God's lavish promise of water. The animals. God's desire for us to sing His praises. It probably requires an appreciation for dry sandy desert places and a deep appreciation for water. (Most of us take water seriously for granted.) What can you do with your kids to recreate that need? Children were part of the community of faith that experienced God's blessing and God's wrath, the oppression of His enemies and God's deliverance and the emotional environment there. Children were there.

Psalm 126 (NIRV)

Again, a reference to a story in Israel's past that children would have experienced - an unpleasant memory, if you will. But they came home. God brought them back home. Not even sure the grown-ups or children were part of a generation to remember "home" but they were part of a community that God promised to deliver and there were children there to experience His promise fullfilled. An emotional experience. And other nations saw what God did.

Lots of emotion in this psalm. Planting with tears. Reaping with joy. A promise of success when you don't think it's possible. There's water in this Psalm, too. The water cycle. Rain is good! In a desert culture the fact that water is critically necessary for survival is "in your face" so to speak. The kids were there to experience all of this. They experienced the desert every day. They were there in that emotional environment, too. Why do you suppose people cry when they plant their gardens in a hot dry land? Where does the rain come from? How does the rain make them feel?

Philippians 3:4b-14 (NIRV)

Paul lists all the ways he has to trust in himself. Most of us could write a list like that: credentials, experience, skills, strengths, gifts, education, who we know...the list goes on. Paul's credentials made him especially well equipped for the job God gave him even apart from God's call on his life. Plus he seems to be one of those "perfect" people. But because of Christ Jesus he calls all of this "nothing". Some translations refer to it as "dung". I do believe that's the word they use in the original but I'm not a Hebrew scholar. I have friends who could give you more contemporary graphic language for that. And yes, as used here, it's that strong - appropriately so. You can go back to the original and look but I believe that's the context of "nothing" and "garbage" here.

Paul says I would trade all of my credentials and qualifications - all that's good about me- to know Jesus better. He talks about "being right with God" having to do with constantly trying to get to know Christ better. We use the word "faith." We use it all the time. We try to explain it or give it meaning but I'm not sure how much real meaning it has for kids (or anyone) until they experience "faith" and they experience interacting with God - getting to know Him better. Some people of faith balk at talk of experience and emotion but here it appears that the focus is on faith meaning "always wanting to get to know God better". Can't kids relate to that? If Christianity is relational - not a religion- can you have a relationship without experience and emotion? We believe without seeing. To believe without seeing, without experience, without emotion, is great faith. Paul saw, he experienced, and I do believe he was a very emotional man.

Paul was a champion even as he was writing Philippians but his attitude was that he wasn't there yet. He had to keep pressing on to know God better. After all that Paul had walked through, it still wasn't yet within the Apostle Paul's grasp. Verse 13-14 (I actually like other translations better for this passage) "Brothers and sisters, I don't consider that I have taken hold of it yet. But here is the one thing I do. I forget what is behind me. [again, forgetting the past] I push hard toward what is ahead of me. I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself. " For kids who are heavy into sports, that's the imagery here. Playing to win. There is a time to remember the past and it's stories in order to know God better and a time to let it all go in order to know God better.

John 12:1-8

Here is the story of Mary pouring perfume on Jesus' feet. You could just tell the story or act it out. There are characters (people) in this story from other familiar-to-children stories in the Gospels. Did you ever try presenting a series of stories (over a 6-8 wk period) that focus on the same character(s)? All the stories about Mary, Martha, Lazarus. All the stories about Judas - especially for older kids who feel like they've heard that story "a million times". If we hear all the stories about that person what can we learn about them? What can we learn about God- Jesus? Father? Holy Spirit?

So here they are eating dinner together. It might help to understand the customs that the people in the story would have been familiar with. Why not take a tiny "expensive" bottle of perfume and pour it on someone's feet. See what happens. See what insights you'd gain doing it that you wouldn't get just listening to the story. I'd bet money that your kids will remember. Every time they walk into your room and they can still smell that smell, they'll remember. You can act it out. You can use a huge basket of play money and think about what it could buy for you. How much money does the average person in your church earn in a year? What can they buy with that much money? What could it buy for someone poor? Trade all of it for a tiny bottle of smelly perfume to pour on Jesus' feet. Act out the story and see where it takes you. Not to downplay the girl characters and stories of scripture but did you ever stop and think that there are lots of "guy stories" in the scriptures? Lots of parts, lots of roles for boys. Lots of roles for strong women, too. The scriptures have lots to teach us about lots of things.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lent 4

Joshua 5:9-12 (NIRV)

Whether or not you want to talk about circumcision is up to you but it was physical evidence that you were born into a covenant faith community. In most Christian communities Baptism has taken the role (is that the word?) of circumcision. For older kids that discussion would take you into other parts of scripture.

God taking away "... the shame of being laughed at by [Egypt]..." Most kids know what it's like to be laughed at. Consider the story without superimposing who or what Egypt "represents". Just look at the story.

This passage is rich with the stories of Egypt, leaving Egypt, the first Passover and all the passovers between (how many would that be?), the manna, the promise of deliverance, the promise of land that would be their own. It's rich with sensory experience: eating food grown from their own land, harvested by their own hands ... how did all that translate through the eyes of the children? How old were they when they experienced all of this and what had they experienced before? How about their parents? Their grandparents? How old were those who had childhood memories of Egypt? Of trekking through the desert? Of almost making it to the promised land and turning around to wander again? And how did all of this affect the children?

Psalm 32 (NIRV)

Forgiveness. Confession. Freedom from guilt. Prayer. "When troubles come like a flood..." I love that phrase! There's that hiding place again, safety.

Picture a child surrounded by people singing praises to God for saving them from something that just happened.

God's promise to teach & guide & watch over. I'm guessing most kids were familiar with bridles and bits and stubborn animals when those Psalms were written.

Throughout this Psalm there are verses about honesty and doing what's right.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIRV)

"So from now on we don't look at anyone the way the world does." What does that mean? Better yet, what does that look like? Sound like? Feel like? "At one time we looked at Christ in that way. But we don't anymore." How does the world see Christ? How do we see Him?

New & old. Brought back to God. Not holding someone's sin against them. Official messengers begging someone to "Come back to God." Jesus makes it possible for us to come back home to God.

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Who are the people we avoid? Who are the people we won't eat with? Jesus sat down and ate with them.

The story of the lost sheep isn't included. But would you risk the safety of 99 living creatures in your care to go out looking for one when you know there are predators lurking in the dark? And these weren't people, these were "just" animals. Farmers are familiar with losing an animal here and an animal there.

The parable of the Lost Son is a story to tell. What questions can you ask that will encourage kids to explore the story, ponder the story, talk about the story and the people in the story rather than looking for the "right" answer? What observations do they make? About each of the boys? About the father? About God? Do you know anyone who had a story like that to tell?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Mind & Spirit in the UK.

Children's Work from the Church of England in the UK

A new book by Ivy Beckwith (I haven't read it)focusing on story, ritual & relationship. She also wrote Postmodern Children's Ministry. It opened up my thinking quite a bit. In my opinion, the book is very much a prophetic call to the Church.

Lent 3

Isaiah 55:1-9

Remember that "all" and "everyone" includes children.

You could create a shopping activity for kids from verse 1 & 2 but to make it really meaningful kids would have to do something challenging-but-not-impossible to earn whatever they would exchange for a snack - a salty snack to make them thirsty. I found myself wondering how do we "buy" without money to buy or buy without price. Wouldn't that make it just a give away? If so, then why not say, "Free food!" Or is there something more here?

From verse 2. Spend your money on bread, spend your labor on that which brings you satisfaction. Eat what is good. All that makes sense to me but I found myself recoiling a little at "delight yourselves in rich food." I don't want to tell kids that but it's there. Does that mean we add meat, gravy, wine sauces, butter cookies, baklava & chocolate creams to our snack? Why is it there? Luxury you don't have to buy? Example of God's rich love, lavish giving, and goodness? Why am I recoiling at "delight yourselves in rich food..."If you're not used to it, it can make you sick. If you are used to it, you probably have the $ to buy it but maybe I'm being too practical.

Psalm 63:1-8

Thirst & water are here again in this Psalm.

Dry, tired land. Do you know of any dry, tired land nearby? Photos of a desert or dry worn-out land would work, too. Water. Why do we need it? Why does the land need it? What happens when you water a dry, weary land? Can you show it over a couple weeks time?

What is a sanctuary? What does it mean to find sanctuary? Can you recreate the experiential "safe place" of that?

Do you praise God with your children for His love ? With lips? Words and song? Even toddlers can play with the idea of praising lips, singing lips, happy lips. Play with lifting hands, praising hands, praying hands, happy hands, helping hands.

What is a blessing? Do you bless God? Do you bless one another? Do you bless the children in your care? By name? Does your pastor?

Do you call on God's name? Which name will you call today? Father? Shepherd? Teacher? Lord & ruler? Counselor? For a child? What names does your child know for God? Names that he/she can relate to? Names that he/she can call?

What is a rich feast to a child? More than enough of the foods you love? Which foods and drink would make a rich feast for your children? Do these passages lose meaning in a culture already as rich as ours?

Do you think about God when you lay in your bed? Do your children? What do they think about?

When did God help you? Do your children know when God helps them? Did you ever feel safe under the shadow of His wings and sing a happy song? Does God have wings like that chicken Jesus talked about?

"My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Did you ever see a clingy child or animal? If something clings to your sweater (a piece of lint, a static-y kleenex) or your pant leg (a burdock) what does it look like? What does it feel like to cling to something? A blanket? A teddy bear? A mom? How do you feel when someone holds you up with their strong hand? When do you need them to do that? When are you happy for them to do that?

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

This passage starts with a reference to an OT story. Do you see a pattern of references to OT stories in Paul's epistles? In the gospels of Jesus?

All...all...all...a huge group of people - all ages- experiencing that trek out of Egypt together, experiencing all that God did or the effects of all that God did. They felt the affects of saying "Yes" to God and saying "No" to God. What was that like for the children?

At what point do you introduce good & evil? Early, so they grow a healthy fear of things they should fear? Later, so they understand about making choices? Early so you train them to make those good choices whether they understand the why or not?

School-aged children understand about testing. "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." Alike, but different from the tests you take in school. Something to talk about.

How young can a child understand "test"? I will ask you a question. If you answer correctly or if you do the right thing, I will give you an M&M.

Can you use testing as a teaching tool? Depending on how you use it, what does it teach? Should we test as part of Christian formation because God tests us? Does He test us to facilitate learning (to help us see areas where we're weak and help us fix them) Does He use it to re-enforce and condition us to make the correct choice? Does He test us to show us our weaknesses or set us up to fail? To celebrate winners? To rank us? To see if the teaching methods work? To grade the teachers? What do the stories of scripture tell us about God's testing?

Luke 13:1-9

From a teaching and learning perspective it might be interesting to look at how Jesus questioned his listeners - when He answered His own questions and when He didn't.

Is there story background to go with the first verses of this section that teach us about the repentance Jesus is talking about?

To how young an audience can you tell or re enact the story of the fig tree? Can you do it without interpretations or explanations? It's a wonderful story to act out!