Monday, April 28, 2014

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 May 4.

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 21, 2014

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 27.
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.) 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

Monday, April 14, 2014

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 Easter Sunday, April 20.
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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Faces of Easter VI: Remembering Jesus at the Last Supper

Hi Godly Play Teachers!
Welcome to Faces of Easter VI: Remembering Jesus At the Last Supper, our lesson for April 13.
What a whirlwind of a story this week's lesson is! So much happens, and all of it so very important: Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, greeted with palms waving, Jesus teaching in the temple and sharing the parable of the widow's offering, the temple guards' plan to take him on Thursday, the last supper in the upper room, Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas' kiss of betrayal and Jesus' arrest. What an honor, to be able to share this with the children and help them process it.

This Sunday at our church our first - fifth grade choirs will be singing in worship, so our time with most of our kids will be shorter than normal, so I know you'll want to get straight to the story. This is a perfect week to let the children respond to the story by gathering things from the Godly Play materials in the room that they feel help tell the story. I hope you'll be able to jot these down for me, along with their thinking on this, so that I can share it with the parents. I'll also have the following wondering questions for you in case that works better for your class, or if you have time to do both:

Wondering Questions:
1. I wonder what part of the story is your favorite.

2. I wonder what part of the story is the most important.

3.In the parable Jesus taught in the temple about the old woman's offering, I wonder who really gave the most, the old woman or the rich man.

4. When Jesus had the supper with the disciples and broke the bread and shared the wine, I wonder what they thought it meant.

5. I wonder how the disciples felt when the guards took Jesus away.

6. The Bible says that the disciples ran away. I wonder what thoughts were going through their minds.

7. I wonder what thoughts were going through the mind of Jesus.

Give A Gift To God Time
We'll have some non-choir children who'll have time to respond to the story creatively, so here are some ideas to add to your own:
1. Retell the story in sections. The story can be divided into scenes, with children working on different ones in pairs or individually. These can be hung together in your classroom if you like. Scenes would include the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, Jesus teaching in the temple, an illustration of the parable of the widow's offering, the Last Supper, Jesus praying in the garden, Jesus' arrest.
2. Act out the last supper.

2. Make more ornaments for your Jesus (Easter) tree. Children could make donkeys or palm branches, representations of the widow's offering, bread or chalices of wine, praying hands or a praying Jesus, or bags of money, representing the 30 pieces of silver Judas was paid to betray Jesus.

3. Palm art. Here are directions for palm crosses for older children. You can use green ribbon too.

4. See more ideas of Palm Sunday crafts here.

Enjoy! I hope you have a very meaningful Sunday!