Friday, April 27, 2012

Detective of Divinity - Easter 4 Children's Story – The Good Shepherd

John 10:11-18 – The Good Shepherd
Props: Detective Gear, sheep, staff and shepherd for evidence box

·         Recall with the children the ways that we’ve looked for clues about Jesus in past weeks – we’ve always had Jesus right there as the biggest clue
·         Today we’re looking for clues about Jesus and what he’s like – and about what God is like – in a story that Jesus tells (these clues might be very familiar if you’ve spent time in the Atrium)
·         Put on detective gear and look at the clues together:
o   the first clue: sheep – what do we know about sheep?  They really need someone to take care of them.  They’re not very smart.  They run around in packs – herds – with other sheep.  They’re vulnerable – that means they can’t protect themselves.
o   the second clue: shepherd’s staff – one way to protect them.  Hook them out of the way, scare away mean animals like the big bad wolf, guide them all together
o   the third clue: shepherd – biggest clue – the one who cares for all the sheep, keeps them safe, knows each of their names and calls to them, they all know his name too and know to follow
·         The story about the Good Shepherd was Jesus’ clue to how much he loves and wants to protect us and care for us.  A clue to how special we each are to God.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Detective of Divinity: Easter 3 Children's Story

This story is actually the one that directly precedes this weeks lectionary reading. But we've had one Jesus-revealed-in-a-locked-room story already, I thought I'd do a prequel of sorts. In our service we'll do the children's story right before the Gospel reading.
Luke 24:13-35 – On the Emmaus Road
props: detective hat, coat and magnifying glass, evidence box, Jesus figure, Bible or scroll, bread
· remind the children of the story of Jesus appearing Mary and then to the disciples – Mary didn’t recognize him right away and his friend Thomas needed to touch him before he believed that Jesus was alive
· recap or read the story of the Emmaus road from Luke 24:35
· Put on the detective gear and tell the children: Now it’s time to look at the clues! Let’s be witnesses!
· Look at the clues in the evidence box
o the first clue: Jesus himself – but the disciples didn’t recognize him – just like Mary didn’t recognize him at first – they weren’t expecting to see him – sometimes we don’t recognize people out of context, like when we see our teacher at the supermarket
o the second clue: scripture – Jesus talked with the disciples about how scriptures told of God’s love for the whole world and about how he – Jesus would die but be alive again (they still didn’t get it)
o the third clue: bread – break the bread as for Communion and ask the children where they’ve seen that gesture before. The disciples had seen Jesus do that too. They might have eaten with him many times, finally they recognized him.
· Say: Even though we don’t see Jesus with us, the way the disciples did, one of the ways we experience God’s love is through eating together, through caring for people who don’t have enough to eat and accepting the good food that people offer us – in each other’s homes, here at church, on picnics.
· Say: When the disciples finally recognized Jesus, he disappeared, but that didn’t stop them from running all the way back to Jerusalem to tell all of their friends, Jesus is alive!!
· Say: If you listen carefully to the next story when it’s read, you’ll hear about Jesus eating with his friends again. (Luke 24:36-48, the scripture reading for this Sunday)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Detective of Divinity: Easter 2 Children's Story (Lectionary Year B)

John 20:19-31

trench coat, detective hat, magnifying glass, box for evidence, small model or picture of a door, empty jar for ‘breath’, figure of Jesus with marked hands and feet or picture of hand and feet or picture of Thomas touching Jesus like the one above

  • Ask children if they remember the story from last week. Remind children about what it means to be a witness and about how Mary was a witness to Jesus.
  • Put on costume props and invite the children again to be witnesses and look at the clues together.
  • Talk about the disciples who were not yet witnesses.
  • Look at the clues in the evidence box:
  1. the first clue: a door – the door was locked because the disciples were afraid that they would be associated with Jesus. Jesus was killed and maybe they would be in danger too. But Jesus got into the room even though the door was locked tight
  2. the second clue – Jesus! The hand and feet of Jesus were scarred. The disciples could see that it was him, the man who had been badly hurt and killed – he’s alive!
  3. the breath in a jar – Jesus breathed on them – a dead person can’t breathe! And he told them that it was his Spirit
  • Say: “Thomas had to see all of these things to believe that Jesus was alive. Just like Mary didn’t believe it until she heard Jesus say her name.”
  • Say: “Jesus told Thomas that his disciples might need to believe even though they don’t see – which means we need to look for clues to Jesus in the stories we hear, in the way we see people acting, in the love we feel”
  • Pray: “God, help me to see the way you and your Spirit are with me always. Amen.”

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Detective of Divinity: Easter Sunday Children's Story (Lectionary Year B)

Through this season of Easter, our congregation is worshiping with the theme "Witness to the Light" based on the numbers of times in Acts and John people are named as witnesses to Christ's ministry, his death and his resurrection. They see and tell. Usually we have the benefit of using Leader magazine's resources but since this year they didn't publish Easter materials, I was tasked with coming up with my own Children's Story for the worship series.

I was somewhat inspired by Bryan Moyer Suderman's newest album Detectives of Divinity to think about the ways that the biblical witnesses have the clues set before them...and how we do too. So the first Sunday of Easter, I'm starting with Mary Magdalene, witness to the risen Jesus, and having the kids help me look for the clues she found that he was alive.

I'll post the story every week until Pentecost.

Easter Sunday – John 20:1-18

props: trench coat, detective hat, magnifying glass, box for evidence, stone, bandages, figure of Jesus

· Ask if children know what it means to be a witness

o meaning one: to see something with your own eyes

o meaning two: to tell about what you’ve seen

· Often the word ‘witness’ in association with police or detective or the courtroom – like being on the ‘witness stand’ when a witness tells about the crime that they saw.

· Put on costume props and say “Today I’m going to be a detective and you are going to be the witnesses and together we’re going to look for the clues that Jesus is alive – just like in the story from John 20”

o the first clue: a rock – Mary saw the rock rolled away and that was her first clue that Jesus was missing. Talk about where there was a stone out of place in the story.

o the second clue: the cloths that wrapped Jesus’ head and hands – these were left in the tomb but the body wasn’t there. Talk about what the cloths were for and the disciples who saw them.

o the third clue: Jesus himself – Mary thought he was the gardener but she learned that it was Jesus himself. Talk about Jesus’ conversation with Mary.

· Ask: “What did Mary do when she figured out all the clues?” She was a witness who witnessed; she went and told her friends what she had seen: ‘Jesus is alive!’

· Say: “Even though we don’t see Jesus, we do have clues that God is at work in our lives: in the Bible, in the love we feel and receive from our friends and family, in the stories we hear at church and in Sunday school, and in many other way. We just need to keep looking.”