How to prepare for Hosanna-ing with a bit of make-believe

Christ's Entry into Jerusalem Hippolyte Flandrin-1842

I like this painting that depicts the inaugurating event of Palm Sunday, because it includes children. Look over on the upper, right-hand side. Notice the man holding a baby(!) up over his shoulders? (One can easily miss seeing!)

Show this picture to your kids and point out the taking-flight toddler.

Close up of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem - a painting by HippolyteThere are other kids. Can you find them?

Notice this child in particular… (The one designated with the red arrow in the close-up shot.

Have your child pretend that they are that kid. Place yourself in the painting!

You are witnessing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem!

What do you see?

What do you smell?

What do you hear?

There were of course, lots of people. Some happy and others not. And probably the usual noise a loud crowd makes.

(“Is he coming yet?” “I can’t see!” “Excuse me, you are stepping on my foot!”)

palm waving-2The Bible tells us there were loud cries of “Hosanna!” (John 12:13). Which was like saying “Save us!”

Go ahead and shout some Hosannas!

Practice for this coming Sunday at FUMC.

(For the lineup of Palm Sunday events at FUMC, see here. There is a lot going on!)

 
Do you suppose there were people at this “parade” who wondered what the Hosanna hoopla was all about?

Why do we celebrate Palm Sunday? (If you’re not sure, go ahead and click on that link to learn more.)

Why did the people greet Jesus with such enthusiasm?

How would you greet Jesus today?

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Photo credits:
Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem by Hippolyte Flandrin, 1842, from FreeChristImages.org, used under license.
Palm Sunday photo from my archives.

What’s the scoop from the Garden of Gethsemane?

This Rotation is producing lots of media: movies of drama skits and photos of Lego-creations that tell our story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Take a look and see!

In the Art/Photography Workshop…

Kids started off hearing the story and creating a garden of olive trees (from paper lunch bags!)

In the Art Workshop, 1st students created trees for the garden scene

Then they re-created the story using their trees and Lego™ people. (Click on a photo to see a larger view.)

The 1st and the 4th graders worked in groups to each create a scene:

The 3rd graders were a small group that week (it was the start of a school break week):

The 2nd grade creations:

2nd grader ponders the storyHmm… Let’s see. First they went to the garden of olive trees…

 
(Remember, you can click on the smaller photos to make them appear larger.)

And finally, the 5th grade creations:
(This class also worked in groups.)

In the Drama Workshop…

The 5th grade puts on a humorous skit:

Watch the 3rd grade version:

Watch the 1st & 4th grade version:

In the Cooking Workshop…

The 2nd grade made (and ate) prayer pretzels. They are so eager to learn how to twist a pretzel. (Yes, there is a technique.) As your kids visit the Cooking Workshop, ask them to tell you the story of how the pretzel ties to prayer.

Cooking - making prayer pretzels

Making Prayer Pretzels Forming Prayer Pretzels

In the Prayer Yoga Workshop…

prayer yogaKids learned about praying with your body.

Watch the video that they followed in class. It includes yoga poses and prayer. We started at the 1:30 mark and only watched about 25 minutes of this video. There is more! Try it out with your family at home.

 
Join us for the fun! See the schedule of workshops here.


Photo credits:
Photos by Tom Gardner & myself.

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What sort of fascinated fan are you raising?

Young sports fanAre you raising a “Go Blue” sports fan? (Or perhaps a “Go Green”?) If you are a fan of a certain team, it’s very likely that your kids are too.

You are probably not intentionally raising such a child – drilling the Michigan fight song every night or teaching them player nuances – it just sort of happens doesn’t it? Because you are interested, they become predisposed.

What about raising a Jesus fan?

Is that just “happening” in your household without any effort on your part?

I’ll admit, when my kids were young, I did not focus much on raising them to be disciples of Christ. My thinking went along the lines of:

  • Who me? I can’t do that. (That’s the church’s job.)
  • I don’t know enough. (I didn’t go to Bible school.)
  • I’ll screw them up / turn them off to religion. (I’ll probably say something wrong!)
Raising a Jesus fan takes some intention.

Does it help you to know that Jesus struggled with the role he was to play in God’s plan of redemption for the world?

We see it prominently in the Garden Of Gethsemane, the spot where Jesus and his followers went after the Passover meal (the one we now call the Last Supper). Jesus knew he faced imminent distressing events — arrest, torture, and death on a cross. At this critical juncture, Jesus is compelled to spend time with God in prayer.

Spend Time in Prayer.

Share your feelings of uncertainty with God. Jesus did. Matthew describes a time of intense agony in amongst the olive trees, with Jesus’ words expressing his anguish:

Open quote markMy Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me.

This is like Jesus saying: “If it is possible, can’t we do this in some other way?”

Christians believe that in Jesus, God became fully human; he was a human being who faced temptations and feelings of anxiety! Isn’t it freeing to realize that we don’t have to stand up to pressures and trials with super-sized strength? It is okay to be fearful, questioning, angry, and to feel agony.

It is okay to struggle!

We know from the prayer that Jesus prayed in the garden, that in the very same sentence of asking for a different path, Jesus turns and submits completely to God, “I want your will, not mine.” This is not an admission of defeat; he says it with a cadence of perfect trust.

Acting as Jesus did can be a tough pill to swallow. Here’s what I tell myself when faced with something I’m unsure I really have the guts to do:

Do the next thing. Do it with prayer.

a blue line

Here’s something to pursue this week: Be on the lookout for a “trigger” which prompts a short burst of prayer.

A collage of green thingsTaking a cue from the Garden of Gethsemane, when you see something green (a houseplant, some produce, a stray toy) thank God for the ability to speak openly with him in prayer!

Try this out yourself for a couple of days. Then report back to your kids. Get them onto the hunt for a little green prompting.

What spiritual practice can you include in your family’s life this Lent? How will you plant seeds of faith in the lives of your Jesus fans?

Stay tuned for other Lenten prayer hints.


Photo credits:
Young sports fan by PublicDomainPictures, and the collage of green things – from other artists – all who licensed these photos on Pixabay under a Public Domain Dedication.

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Easter is here!

Two kids in Easter finery at the base of the flower-decked cross

A blessing for your Easter:

May the joy of Easter dress you out in finery and flowers.
May your Easter be full of family and friends and glimmers of joy.
May you openly receive God’s grace,
Allow it to fill you,
and may you turn outward and offer it back to the world around you.

Happy Easter !
 — Carol


Photo credits:
Photo is from my archives.

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Why did Jesus have to die?

Palms waving on Palm Sunday

Did you see the parade on Sunday? Such a celebration!

 

Lots of waving palms!

And there it was… Sure enough… Joy was in the air!

Palm waving with a focus on joy

And next Sunday is Easter!

More Joy!

Oh, but what about the in-between days?

Can we leave out this?

draped cross

Do you say, “I don’t know how to explain why they killed Jesus, so I’ll just hurry over that part.

Or

“Let’s just skip the bad parts and progress right to the Easter Joy.”

Granted, it takes delicate talk to explain why Jesus had to die. Start off by asking your child why they think Jesus had to die. It is important to ponder and wonder around this question with our kids.

Make sure that they understand that is was not God who put Jesus to death but other people; people who did not like Jesus. They did not like the things that Jesus said and did. It might even be helpful to talk about why people might not like what Jesus had to say about how to treat others (Matthew 7:12), or about loving your enemies (Matthew 5:43-44), or about sharing your resources (Matthew 19:21).

How about some elaboration on why Jesus had to die:

This part of Easter is hard to understand. This part shows us how much God loves us and wants to be able to be connected with us.

No matter how hard we try, we still sin — we do stuff that separates us from God and from other people; things that push God away. There is nothing we can do to make up for our sins; we deserve to be punished.

Jesus took that punishment for us. He died so that our sins could be forgiven!

It seems harsh, but it’s not the end of the story because Jesus came back to life! Jesus had been killed on a cross but on the third day, women found his tomb (the place where he had been buried) empty! The tomb was empty because Jesus was alive! God’s power brought Jesus back to life again. He was resurrected. This means that God’s love is more powerful than death!

Jesus’ death and resurrection show us that we are fully forgiven. God’s love is more powerful than anything and is still there, even when we sin!

Photo credits:
Photos are from my archives.

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Our Schedule for March/April 2015 – Jesus is alive!

We’ve heard the story so many times it is easy for us to accept. But pause for a moment and consider the shock, and surprise, and joy experienced by the followers of Jesus on the very first Easter. They needed convincing that the resurrection was true! Do we? What does this message mean to us?

Attend our workshops for this Rotation!

He is Risen by artist He Qi

As preparation, read our story in Matthew 28:1-10, and in John 20:1-20.

For Saturdays at the Green Wood location, here is the schedule…

Date Workshop or Activity
3/21 Art Workshop
3/28 Video Workshop
4/4 Science Workshop
4/11 Cooking Workshop
4/18 To be announced
4/25 Attend worship – led by the 7th-12th graders

And on Sundays, at the downtown location, here is our schedule of workshops:

Date Our workshops for 1st through 5th graders…
Art Cooking Video Science
Room 212 Social Hall Room 215 Room 211
3/22 4th grade 3rd grade 2nd & 5th grade 1st grade
3/29 3rd grade 2nd & 5th grade 1st grade 4th grade
4/5 Enjoy Easter Sunday worship with your family!
The sermon is on Mark 16:1-8. Read it before hand! It will sound very familiar, except for one part.
I wonder what that’s about?
4/12 2nd & 5th grade 1st grade 4th grade 3rd grade
4/19 1st grade 4th grade 3rd grade 2nd & 5th grade
4/26 Enjoy Youth-led worship with your family!

And here’s what the 6th graders will be doing this month… (They’ll always be in the Pine Room.)

3/22 3/29 4/5
Stay tuned… for further details. Worship with family
Easter Sunday!

What’s happening in each workshop?

  • In the Art Workshop students will create a mini garden/empty tomb scene. Sort of like a crèche scene for Easter!
  • In the Video Workshop students will watch portions of the animated video from Nest Entertainment, He is Risen.
  • In the Science Workshop students will explore the difference between magic tricks, scientific facts and miracles. Which one does Jesus’ resurrection fall into?
  • In the Cooking Workshop students will create “Resurrection Rolls.” Yum. And what a surprise!

On Saturday nights and on Sunday mornings at FUMC our Cool Disciples experience Rotation Model Christian education, as they learn about Bible stories and concepts through kid-friendly multimedia workshops. If you are in the area please join us for the fun learning at First United Methodist Church in Ann Arbor, MI.


Photo credits:
He is Risen, by He Qi, via Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN, offered under a Creative Commons License.

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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?

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[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.

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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…
Matthew
21:8-11
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?
Matthew
21:12-13
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.)
Matthew
21:12-13
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?
Matthew
21:12-16
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?
Matthew
26:1-2
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!)
Matthew
26:3-5
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?
Matthew
26:14-16
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?

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