I love a parade, don’t you?

It’s Lent!
Rather than giving something up, how about adding daily family faith discussion.
Make it your Lenten investment!

Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey on what we now call Palm Sunday

If you are doing a Rotation on the events of Holy Week, you are covering a lot of scripture! So this post will be the start of several which will provide mini reading plans for small portions of each story in the “Events of Holy Week.”. Included are discussion questions for use around the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together—perhaps in the car on the way to soccer practice?) Use the chart below to read and talk about this portion of our story… in stages… over the course of several days.

First up: What we now call Palm Sunday!

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.

Read Talk about or do…
Matthew 21:7-9 This is like a parade! Describe a parade you’d like to be in.
What town is Jesus entering? (Jerusalem)
Why is this first event in Holy Week called “Palm Sunday?” How do you plan to celebrate Palm Sunday?
Matthew 21:8-9 Imagine the excitement! Does the Bible you are using have a footnote that explains the meaning of the word “Hosanna?”
In Hebrew Hosanna means “save us now,” although over time it had come to be an exclamation of praise. What words do you shout when you are excited and full of appreciation? Shout some worshipful words!
Mark 11:1-6 Take a look at a Bible map (here’s one). Find Jerusalem, Bethany, and Bethphage. Jesus and his disciples walked everywhere. How far did they walk between those towns? What is the furthest you’ve ever walked?
Luke 19:28-34 What would you think if someone asked you to do what Jesus asked? Would you wonder how you’d ever find this colt? Would you be afraid of being accused of stealing?! Would you be anxious to see Jesus riding a never-been-ridden-before, animal? I wonder why Jesus felt that these details were important?
Matthew 21:1-5 Does the Bible you are using help you to discover which prophet said these words? (Hint: Look at Zechariah 9:9)
What sort of king were the people expecting?
+++++A) a riding-on-a-giant-horse, ’m-going-to-whip-everybody-into-shape sort of a king OR
+++++B) a gentle-loving riding-on-a-donkey king?
What sort of king did Jesus turn out to be?
Matthew 21:10,11 Obviously not everyone knew about Jesus! The people had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah! Look up the word “Messiah” in a he dictionary (there is usually one in the back of a Bible).
Matt 21:8,9
Mark 11:8-10
Luke 19:36-38
John 12:12-16
What differences do you notice between these four accounts of this story?

Why do you suppose these differences exist?

What do you make of John’s reference to looking back on this story after Jesus’ resurrection?

How does it feel to add faith talk for Lent?

Photo credits:
Sunday, originally posted by Waiting For The Word on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

How to promote pondering?

Tonight, at the dinner table, “noodle around” and ruminate. Reap the benefits!

A young boy says sarcastically: my day was fine

Does this sound like conversation in your household?

You: How was school today?

Child: Fine.

You: What did you learn?

Child: Nothing.

Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth!

Try turning your inquiries into a dinner table game.

Open quote mark Tell me two things that really happened today and one thing that didn’t happen, and I’ll try to guess which ones are true!

This suggestion comes from a book by Drs. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, The Whole Brain Child: 12 Proven Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. ← (That is the link to the Ann Arbor District Library’s copy of the book.) Now, admittedly this line of questioning probably won’t go over well with older kids — for them try asking for a “true” opinion and a “false” opinion they hold on some newsworthy subject.

Regardless of the discussion topic there is benefit to this inquiring tactic — besides revealing your child’s activities, or learning how they feel about life — kids unwittingly receive practice in pondering.

What is so important about honing reflection skills?

Asking children to dig back into their memory is known by educators as essential to moving learning to long-term storage. Reflection has been described as the “mind’s strongest glue.” [1]

So promote some pondering! Let’s continue to mull over the events of Holy Week. Use the chart below to read and talk about the next portion of our story.

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.
Or, check out the other mini reading plans for our Rotation on the events of Holy Week here. If your kids aren’t clear about the order of the events of Holy Week, start at the beginning.)

Read Talk about or do…
Matthew 26:36-39 What are Jesus’ feelings? If you were facing some sort of crisis, what three friends would you ask to be with you?
Bonus Q: Who were the two sons of Zebedee? Hint: Luke 5:10-11.
Mark 14:32-26 Tell about a time when you knew what was coming up; you knew what you were up against. Did you follow through? What is Jesus asking of God? What does he mean by “the cup?” (He’d like a way to avoid the cross!) What model does this give us as to how we should approach God?
Matthew 26:39-41 Why do you suppose the disciples fell asleep? What is another way to say, “my spirit was willing but my body was weak?” (I knew what the best thing to do was, but…) Name an instance when this happened to you.
Luke 22:41-45 Jesus is being very honest with God. What is something that you’d like to admit to God but are afraid to do so? Luke is the only gospel which includes the angel helping out Jesus and Jesus sweating blood. Do you suppose that Luke being a doctor had anything to do with the latter inclusion? (It has a medical name: Hematidrosis. Research this on the internet.)
Matthew 26:44-47 Do you suppose Jesus felt let down by his disciples? When is a time when someone let you down? Tell about a time when you may have let Jesus down.
Mark 14:43-46 What do you suppose is going through Judas’ mind? Who were these “chief priests” and why were they interested in arresting Jesus? (Review who they are here. Review why they are out to get Jesus by reading one example at Matthew 12:9-14.)
Luke 22:49-51 Why do you suppose Jesus’ followers were so quick to bare their swords? (and also seemingly quick to fall asleep!) What would you have done? How do you suppose the guards felt when they saw Jesus heal the man’s ear? Do you suppose they wondering: are we arresting the right guy?
Matthew 26:47-56 Explore the differences in the way the gospel writers tell this portion of the story — in Mark 14:43-50, and in Luke 22:47-53. The disciples go from sleeping on the job, to wielding swords, to running away. What about this surprises you? How would you have reacted to these events?
How do you value and encourage pondering in your family?


[1] Kate Charner-Laird, Sarah Fiarman, Frederick Won Park, and Sylvia Soderberg, Cultivating Student Reflection: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fostering Critical Thinking in Young Children, Issue 6 (Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation, 2003).

Photo credits:
Pouting child, by Sergio Vassio Photography, licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (Picture was cropped and text added by me.)

The strangest things can happen around your table

What happens around your family dinner table?

a very messy eatera boy eating at a table

  • Food is served (and sometimes eaten).
  • Conversation unfolds.
  • Stories are told.
  • Things get messy.
  • Games are played.
  • Bread is broken.
  • Memories are made.

Here’s a table where I’m sure this happened…

Last Supper, 1896 work by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret
Jesus and his disciples share the Last Supper

Well, okay. They probably didn’t play any games.
(But don’t that that stop you! See here for suggestions of games to play at the dinner table.)

What happens around your dinner table?
Are questions expressed, discussion encouraged, and disciples of Jesus cultivated?

Why not start today? Use this mini reading plan with discussion questions.

If you’d like to print out this reading plan/discussion guide, click here.
(Check out the other mini reading plans for our Rotation on the events of Holy Week here. If your kids aren’t clear about the order of the events of Holy Week, start at the beginning.)

Read Talk about or do…
Luke 22:7-15 What is your favorite mealtime gathering? What sort of preparations are required? What is served at this meal? Why do you enjoy it?
Why do you suppose Jesus “earnestly” wanted to share this meal with his disciples?
Mark 14:12-16 What is the Festival of Unleavened Bread? What is the Passover lamb? (Hint: look at Exodus 12:1-14.)
How likely do you think it would be for the disciples to find a man carrying a jug of water? (Remember this is back in Jesus’ time when water retrieving was strictly women’s work.) There seems to be a bit of secrecy to this planning. Why do you suppose that was needed? (Remember what sort of danger was Jesus in.)
Describe the details about how you would plan a secret location for a party.
John 13:1-5 Name the worst clean-up task that you can imagine. (Perhaps cleaning up after a sick puppy or washing the kitchen floor after a mishap involving a dozen raw eggs?)
Why do you suppose the disciples feet needed washing? (Hint: think about their footwear and the roads in those days.)
John 13:1-11 Why do you suppose Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet? Would you want your teacher at school to wash your feet? Name someone whom you’d never want to wash your feet. Why not?
What do Peter’s feelings tell us about his relationship to Jesus?
John 13:12-17 How is washing someone’s feet an act of service? What do you suppose Jesus meant by saying that his disciples should wash other people’s feet? Did he mean literally??
Get out a small basin, some soap and a towel. Put some warm water into the basin and wash each others feet. What are you thinking as your feet are bathed?
John 13:14-15 We know what will happen to Jesus. We know how Judas will betray him, and Peter will deny him. Yet Jesus washes both Judas and Peter’s feet! Think about an act of service that you would struggle to do for someone, if you knew they were going to be mean to you in the future.
Name some acts of service we can do for others. Are these hard or easy to do?
Matthew 26:20-25 What reaction do the disciples have when Jesus drops this “bomb?” How would you have reacted?
The Bible doesn’t tell us why Judas snitched on Jesus. Some theorize that he wanted the money (John 12:4-6). Others propose that Judas was hoping that Jesus’ arrest would prompt Jesus to act more like the warrior king that the Jews had been expecting. (Or as one person has said: “Maybe Judas was throwing Jesus into the deep end of the pool, hoping he’d swim.” Quote source Have you ever wished that God would move a little faster in his plans for you? Have you ever betrayed someone’s trust? Can you describe why you did this?
Luke 22:19-20 What elements of a traditional Passover meal did Jesus turn around and give new meaning to? What is Jesus asking his disciples to do? What is he asking us to do? (Hint: reread Luke 22:19.) What are we suppose to remember – the way Jesus shared the bread and cup or what meaning it has? What meaning does it have?
Matthew 26:26-28 Do you suppose the disciples understood what Jesus was saying about his body and his blood? Would you have understood if you’d been there? How would you have felt when Jesus passed around the bread and the cup?
Matt 26:26-29
Mark 14:22-25
Luke 22:19-20
What similarities do you notice between these three accounts of this story? What differences exist? What do you think of Luke’s additional words about why we should repeat this act? (“Do this in memory of me.” When do we hear those words in church? (at Communion!)

Are memories being made around your table?

Photo credits:
At the table, by kate hiscock and a messy eater, by Matt Preston, both licensed on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. (No changes were made.)
Last Supper, an 1896 work by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Are you seeing ads? They are not from me! They are placed by WordPress, who otherwise offers a free platform from which to share lots of good-ness. If you see an inappropriate ad, please report it to support@wordpress.com. Include the URL, the date/time the ad appeared, and a screenshot of the ad.

Bothered & Bewildered: Stuck in a playpen?

The book Bothered & Bewildered by Ann Morisy“Bothered and Bewildered” — that’s the sermon series for Lent this year (2014) at FUMC. The idea for this theme came from the writings of Ann Morisy. That is one of her books over on the left: Bothered & Bewildered: Enacting Hope in Troubled Times.

Ann guest-lectured this past weekend in Ann Arbor. In one of her three talks, Ann spoke about bringing hope to those who are troubled and anxious — to those in a bothered and bewildered state.

Ah, that would be me.

I’ll admit – I’m often dazed and downright dizzy, and in the in midst of an overloaded life, I’m wondering, who me? A child of God? And why am I here?

What about you? Ever feel that way?

I’m thinking that a generous dose of uncertainty also applies to our current Rotation on the events of Holy Week. Some of the characters in our story were definitely a bit baffled.

  • Why did Jesus overturn the tables in the Temple? (Matthew 21:12-13).
  • What was Jesus talking about – “the Son of Man will be handed over…” (Matt 26:2).
  • And what brought Judas to snitch on his teacher?! (Matt 26:14-16).

Yes, I’d say that the portion of our story covered in this week’s mini reading plan (below), includes people who are troubled and anxious.

Can we relate?

To continue a previously started trend, let’s explore the concept of people bothered and bewildered during that first Holy Week. People, not unlike us, who (to borrow another Ann Morisy viewpoint) fear stepping outside of the playpen.

a child chews on the edge of a playpen

Do playpens even get used any more?

Those places where we placed a small child to keep them out of harms way while we were otherwise occupied? Keep the thought of a playpen — a safe place — in mind as you use this mini reading plan with discussion questions around the family dinner table. Or wherever your family (or your friends!) gather together. Use the chart below to read and talk about this particular portion of our story… in stages… over the coming weeks. Or print it out.

(Check out the start of the mini reading plans here.)

Read Talk about or do…
A bit of a review: Why is the crowd all worked up; who is coming into town?
Why were they shouting words of praise – Hosanna!?
What sort of king did they expect Jesus would be? What hint should they have taken from Jesus’ choice of a mode of transportation?
How do you suppose the sight of this parade makes the people think: perhaps it would be safe to leave our playpens?
Why do you suppose Jesus turned things upside down in the Temple?
Imagine you were a money-changer in the Temple; what would you have thought? Imagine that you are someone who needed to buy a dove to offer as a sacrifice in the Temple. How do you feel being turned away? (Sorry there are no doves; that man let them all loose when he was overturning tables.)
What about this event bothers you? What questions do you have? If you were there would you feel like you were in need of a playpen of safety and security, or a playpen full of challenges? What do you suppose Jesus is trying to tell us about prayer and worship?
Why do you suppose the chief priests and the teachers of the law were so upset about kids making noise in the Temple? This is just one example of how they seemed to always butt heads with Jesus. Jesus came to earth to help put the world right again, but he used ways that were different than what people expected. What way do you suppose a “take-charge” type of king would have used in this instance to right the unfair practices at the Temple?
A review: What did the festival of Passover celebrate? (Hint: look at Exodus 12:1-14.) What does the word “crucified” mean? (killed on a cross) Why did Jesus allow himself to be killed (he could have run away)? (It’s okay if you don’t have a definitive answer to this question. Discuss it anyway!)
What festival were the religious leaders talking about? (Hint: look in verse 2.) What sort of playpen were they setting up for themselves to avoid a backlash of protest from “the people”? Why do you suppose they were worried about what others thought?
Which disciple tattled on Jesus? (Judas Iscariot)
What was the bad plan that Judas made? Have you ever made a “bad plan”? What happened? Was forgiveness necessary? Do you suppose that Jesus forgave Judas?
What sort of playpen would you retreat to if you made a really bad plan? Or would you think to choose to run to Jesus instead?

Are you ready to continue with the next in our series of mini-reading/discussion plans?


Photo credits:
Youngster in a playpen by Ross Belmont, licensed under Creative Commons BY NC-SA 2.0