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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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 Garden of Gethsemane workshops

During the school year, each Rotation for our Cool Disciples (our 1st – 6th graders at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI) includes six workshops. Here’s the line up for our Rotation on the Garden of Gethsemane.

  • In the Art Workshop kids are creating charcoal drawings visualizing events on the night Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane. They are reading the story in Luke.
  • In the Cooking Workshop pretzels are being folded following the practice of a monk 1,400 years ago, who first shaped his dough to represent someone praying. People often prayed at that time, with their arms folded across their chests, each hand on the opposite shoulder. (Try saying your prayers in this manner!) As the pretzels bake, the story is being read from Matthew.
  • In the Drama Workshop the kids read the story in Mark and then enact it (complete with costumes and props). Here’s the 6th grade in action from last week:

  • In the Movement Workshop students hear the story from Luke. After discussion they climb into Body Sox – tubes made of a very stretchy Lycra material. While listening to music they are urged to use their bodies to create expressive movement to depict the retelling of the story. This is captured on video for watching pleasure at the end of the lesson.
  • In the Science Workshop kids are creating little gardens- terrariums. These gardens are not intended to be replicas of the Garden of Gethsemane as they include other symbols of the Easter story – an empty tomb, a rock rolled away, a cross and some flowers. As you care for the garden that your child brings home, talk about the elements of the story. Why is the tomb empty? How about that stone – was it moved away to let Jesus out, or so people could see Jesus had risen from the dead? What does the cross represent?
  • In the Video Workshop students are first reading the story in Matthew and then watching portions of the video The Visual Bible: Matthew. They are watching this live-action video portray Jesus and his disciples first at the Last Supper and then in the garden. This video uses the exact wording from the New International version of the book of Matthew.

What are your children’s reactions to these workshops? What have they learned?

Photo credits:
Photos thanks to Greg Stout.

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