Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Knowing Jesus in a New Way Lesson 3: Known in Doubt

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 3: Known in Doubt, our lesson for April 29.
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. They emphasize 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. (Though you may have to figure out how! I've never used that feature.)

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.

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!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Knowing Jesus in a New Way Lesson 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 22.
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 how the two followers felt as they first started walking and talking, before they found the stranger.
3. 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. 
4. Jesus said that someone would come to suffer and die so we might be really alive. I wonder what he meant by being really alive.
5. I wonder why Jesus' followers finally recognized him when he broke the bread and blessed it.
6. I wonder what the followers  might have said to each other after realizing it was Jesus, and then seeing Jesus disappear.
7. I wonder how Jesus helps us today from being trapped by our own mistakes.

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 9, 2012

Knowing Jesus in a New Way Lesson 1: Known in Absence

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Knowing Jesus in a New Way 1: Known in Absence, our lesson for April 15.
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 three women named Mary first felt when they saw that the tomb was empty.
3. I wonder what Mary thought when the person she thought was the gardener called her name and she realized it was Jesus.
4. I wonder what John and Peter hoped to find as they ran to the tomb, and what they said to the others when they found it empty. I wonder what they thought would happen next.
5. I wonder if there are ways we can learn about Jesus even though  he's not here with us. I wonder what those ways are.
6. 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.) 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

Monday, April 2, 2012

Faces of Easter VII: Celebrating the Risen Christ

 Hi Godly Play Teachers! Happy Easter, in advance!
Welcome to Faces of Easter VII: Celebrating the Risen Christ, our lesson for April 8.
What a beautiful and important lesson we have this Sunday: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! I love how Godly Play presents this lesson, reminding children that the crucifixion side of the story cannot be pulled apart from the resurrection part, and that which looks like an ending is actually a beautiful beginning.

There are wondering questions at the end of the lesson with the script. I'll have those in your room as well.

Don't forget to allow time for your children to celebrate the resurrection by visiting the cross on the courtyard outside the sanctuary, where each child will have an opportunity to add a flower or two to the cross. Maybe the younger children can go at the beginning of Sunday school, and y'all can stagger your visits so everyone has time to enjoy the cross. If you like, you could even take the kids to the labyrinth, with instructions for them to pray their own Easter prayer as they walk it. If the kids have plenty of direction as to what they're supposed to do (and if the weather is good) it might be a meaningful part of the morning!

We will have snacks in the game room before Sunday school, but you might want to share a special Easter snack with your kids (Hot cross buns or something Easter-y.) Just give me a clean receipt and I can make sure you're reimbursed. Easter is definitely something that deserves a party!

The children may have their own ideas about how they'd like to explore the story and celebrate it through art. It would be wonderful if they wanted to work together as a class to make a gift to God. Maybe a mural of the stone rolled away, or of the two sides of this week's story tile?

Here are some other ideas to add to your own:
Check out the stained glass cross example and directions here.

Make a plastic canvas cross here.

See a Resurrection cracked egg here.

All ages, from the youngest to the oldest would enjoy making a butterfly from a coffee filter as shown here. Discussion of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly is a great lead in to talk about the transformation of Jesus. If you choose to do this and the kids have a chance to talk about what is alike/ different about the transformations, I'd love to hear the kids' comments. Jot them down if you have a chance.

Thanks y'all!
Much love, Becky