The following is what I give to my Sunday school kids each week during Lent. These are written by our children's minister. I have been meaning to post these for several weeks now, but haven't. Better late than never. I hope you can share these with your children or just learn a little more for yourself. I will post one a week throughout Lent and several during Holy Week.
Practice with Parents
Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Background: Ash Wednesday is the day that begins Lent. It is called Ash Wednesday because in many churches a cross made of ashes is drawn on the foreheads of people who attend a special service on Ash Wednesday. The idea of using ashes comes from the Old Testament practice of dressing in sackcloth and sitting in ashes as a sign of grief or repentance to God. Ash Wednesday signifies the beginning of Lent, the season of preparation for Resurrection Sunday. Lent is a time when people repent of (or turn away from) their sins and sacrifice to emulate the sacrifice that Jesus gave when he died on the cross. People often give up something that they enjoy during Lent. They do this to demonstrate a sorrow for the sins that they have committed and to commemorate Jesus' sacrifice of his life. During this time, they should remember Jesus' sacrifice.
Scripture Emphasis: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1-2
Activity: Ask your children what they love. They may respond with names of family members, gaming systems, pets, or favorite foods. Explain that god loved people so much that He gave up something (His only son, Jesus) for people. He allowed Jesus to live on Earth with people, to help people, to teach people, and eventually to die for people. Explain that on this day, Ash Wednesday, it is a time to show God how much we love Him. Ash what sacrifice means. Sacrifice means giving something up. It's easy to give up something your don't really like, like broccoli or homework. But sacrifice is when you give up something you love. On Ash Wednesday, Christians around the world make a choice to sacrifice something for 40 days until Resurrection Sunday (Easter). Some give up their favorite foods, some give up television or game time, and some give up other things that are special to them. Sundays are mini-celebration days, so on Sunday you can use or eat the thing you sacrifice. During Lent, let's give up some things that are special to us. As a family, discuss some things you might want to sacrifice and what you might do to show God that you love Him during the time you might have used or eaten the things you love. Here are a few examples of things to sacrifice: television time, gaming time, music in the car, favorite soft drinks, desserts, ect. Here are a few examples of things to do to show God that you love Him more than the things you sacrifice during Lent: pray, read your Bible, help someone in need, ect.
Prayer: God, thank you for sacrificing your son, Jesus. We love you more than our favorite things so we will sacrifice those things during Lent. Please remind us to be strong and to show our love to you more than we love other things. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
Week of March 13, 1002
Background: We are now in the season of Lent. Lent is a time to give up something just as Jesus gave up his life for us. When we give something up, it should be replaced with something else. One of the goals of sacrificing during Lent is to spend the time you would normally spend on the thing you have given up in prayer. If you’ve given up a food, when you crave that food you should pray. If you’ve given up an activity, spend the time you would normally spend on that activity praying.
Scripture Emphasis: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Activity: Spend time teaching your child about prayer. The concept of prayer may sometimes be hard for a child to understand so try this: Tell your child that you will play a game with her. Have your child stay in her bedroom while you are in her closet. Have her tell you a story or about her day. Remain quiet while she talks. After a few minutes, come out of the closet and tell her what she said. Ask how that game was like us, God, and prayer. If the connection is not made, give her the words to say. I was in the closet and you couldn’t see me, but I was still there. I heard what you said. We don’t see God, but He is always there. He hears us, too. God even responds to us, although it’s not usually in a way that we can hear. Often “God’s voice” sounds like a thought, urge, or feeling that something is the right thing to do. When we pray we should talk to God and also take time to listen.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for being a God who is with us. Thank you for listening to us. Help us to remember to pray to you often. We love you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
Week of March 20, 2011
Background: While Jesus was having the Last Supper with his disciples he told Peter that he would deny Jesus. This was a shock to the first disciple who was called by Jesus and the first one who called him the Messiah. Later in the chapter, Peter did deny Jesus 3 times. After saying that he did not know Jesus and that he was not with him, Peter cried. Even the most devout Christians can deny Jesus. We must put up guards to protect our faith and be proud of our identity in Christ.
Scripture Emphasis: Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
Activity: Role play with your children. Tell your child to imagine that she is at school and someone makes fun of how another Christian acts. You say something like "Man, that kid is crazy. He talks about God and church all the time! I wonder if he ever does anything fun!" Give your child the chance to respond. Act out several scenarios with your child. Explain that there will be many chances in life to confess that we are Christians and that we love God. There will also be chances to deny the One we love and serve. We must ask God for help to be bold and to make the right choices even in difficult situations.
Prayer: God, please help us to be bold about our faith in You. Help us to remember who You are and to tell others about how good You are. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Practice with Parents
Week of March 27, 2011
Background: After the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. At the supper he told the group that Judas would betray him, that Peter would deny him, that all of his disciples would abandon him, and that he would die. It was not an encouraging place to be, and it is obvious that Jesus was discouraged. As was his custom, he went to a solitary place to pray. Jesus took some disciples to pray with him. He asked the disciples to watch out for men who wanted to arrest and hurt him, but they fell asleep as Jesus prayed. Then Jesus asked the disciples to watch and pray so that they wouldn't be tempted to desert him, but they fell asleep again. When Jesus most needed support and prayer, the group closest to him fell down on the job.Scripture Emphasis: Matthew 26:28-46
Activity: It’s important to keep your focus on what matters. If you play baseball or kickball and do not pay attention to the ball, what might happen? (get hit, miss the ball, lose the game) What if you are dancing and do not listen to the music? How might your dance look? (not good, not following the beat) Play a game with your child. It could be a board game, 4 Corners, catch, or you can even “play house.” While you are playing, purposefully become distracted. Start to do chores, play another game, or even leave the room. When your child becomes frustrated, explain to him how important it is to stay focused. Then share the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Even when Jesus was upset with his friends, scared, or sad he kept his focus. Who did he focus on? (God) How did he focus? (prayed, talked to God) We must do the same thing. How did you feel when I lost focus and stopped playing with you? (sad, mad, frustrated) We can do a better job in anything we do, and make God pleased, if we keep our focus on God. Let’s remember to do that this week.
Prayer: God, help us to copy Jesus’ example. We want to keep our focus on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.