Asking questions is good. Encourage the asking of questions, even if you don’t know the answers!
A faith that quits questioning, quits growing.
+++++—Rev. J. Douglas Paterson in his “What If” sermon series
+++++“What If Having Questions Were More Important Than Having
+++++ Answers?” (2/6/11)
Here are a couple of questions… but first a bit of background. Our story about John the Baptist is found in all four Gospels. The Gospel according to John (a different John than John the Baptist) includes a picture metaphor.
One day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Look, the Lamb of God.” (John 1:36)
So if having questions is a way to grow…
Why did John the Baptist call Jesus “the Lamb of God”?
In Jesus’ time, lambs were offered (twice a day) as a sacrifice for people’s sins. An animal’s life — to pay the penalty for sin. Calling Jesus the “Lamb of God” meant that Jesus would take the place of a lamb; Jesus would die to take away our sins.
How did John the Baptist recognize that Jesus was the Messiah?
Wonder together! What questions have your kids asked about this story?
Photo credits: Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Lambs by A. Roger Davies, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
A little while back I’d suggested that a way to talk about faith with your kids was to make family dinner a priority. (Click on “family dinner” to read that post.)
Sometimes getting conversation going at the table can be tough, especially for older kids. Here’s an idea:
Before dinner glance at this brief post from “HuffPost Family Dinner Downloads.”
HuffPost? What’s that?
In the words of the editors…
Every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week — stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.
This particular HuffPost Family Dinner Download happens to be about eating healthy and about one particular retailer (amazingly enough) agreeing to help with that effort especially for folks with limited incomes. Lots of room for various discussion – there are even questions provided to spark conversation!
But where is “faith” in this discussion?
Glad you asked? To tie your discussion to our current Rotation at at FUMC, bring up the question: What did John the Baptist eat?
The answer: locusts and wild honey! (Matthew 3:4) Yum?
Here are some other questions to discuss:
- Do you suppose people thought John was strange? Why do you think that?
- Do you suppose that his strange diet (and his strange clothes) were what drew people to him?
- Oh, so why else did they want to listen to what John the Baptist had to say? And what was it he was saying/doing?
- John the Baptist baptized with water. What are some ways water gives and sustains life in the world?
- Why is water a symbol of what God does for us at baptism?
If your children have been baptized, tell them about it. If they haven’t been baptized, discuss baptisms they’ve seen. Enjoy your family dinner!
Dinner table photo by vizzzual-dot-com, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
John the Baptist was an odd character. He lived in the wilderness (in the desert valley of the Jordan River, north of Jerusalem), wore wilderness clothes (camel’s hair) and ate wilderness food (locusts). Even though he led a strange life-style, people still flocked to hear him, which was good, because John had an important, God-appointed job…
To get people ready!
In between munching on locusts dipped in honey (was that for added flavor?) John told people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” Matthew 3:2. Hundreds of years earlier the Prophet Isaiah had predicted, “Someone is shouting: Clear a path in the desert! Make a straight road for the LORD our God” (Isaiah 40:3). That someone was John the Baptist, making straight roads for God.
The phrase “making straight roads” has an interesting background. When a king planned to tour his dominion, a crew would be sent out ahead to fill in any potholes and knock down any hills in the way! Nothing will impede the way of the king!
John’s make-way, readiness call was referring to peoples behavior. They needed to change their thoughts and actions and return to following God. “He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Repentance can mean to feel sorry for our choices. But John the Baptist wanted people to do more than just apologize for sins; he was also asking them to prepare their hearts for the Lord.
What about us?
Do our hearts need preparation? Jesus is always seeking us out; wanting to have a close, personal relationship with us. He needs our hearts and minds ready to accept that relationship!
What do we need to do to welcome God into our hearts? Discuss these ideas with your family.
- We think of prayer as talking to God, but it’s also about listening. What are ways to help us quiet ourselves as we prepare to listen for God?
- Do we feel as though we need to be in a certain location? What would be a small way to recreate that location at home?
- What can distract us from God? How about TV or sports or sleeping in on Sunday mornings? What will help us remove those distractions?
- What about “boulders” in the way? Is there some other way we feel we should be spending our time? Is there some past experience that keeps you from letting God in?
- Can what we expect of God be a hinderance? What are your expectations of God? Perhaps what is needed is to get to know God better?
What are your thoughts on preparing the way for God?
Share them by commenting below. (There’s nothing to join and your email won’t be shown!)
Photo credits (all from Flickr): Banner photo (not visible in readers or email) by Pink Sherbert Photography. Camel by xikita. Locust by Peter Rowley.All licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
During the school year, on Sunday mornings each Rotation for our Cool Disciples (our 1st – 6th graders at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI) includes six workshops. In January, we’ll be studying about John the Baptist, about Jesus’ baptism, and about baptism today.
Read about our story in Matthew 3.
Hint: On this blog you can click on words that are bold and a different color, and you’ll open up an internet site. (In our case, always safe ones!) This link sends you to a site where you can read our Bible passage. Pretty cool, yes?
Here is the schedule of workshops for the next three weeks…
What’s happening in each workshop?
- In the Art Workshop students will create molas. Molas are a fabric art form practiced by the Kuna Indians in Panama. Our project will use paper and focus on symbols of baptism.
- In the Cooking Workshop students will creative edible “locusts” while learning about John the Baptist and the important job that he had. (Do you suppose they will actually eat their creations?!)
- In the Drama Workshop students will enact the story of John the Baptist preaching “Repent.” They will also enact Jesus’ baptism and they will run through the Baptismal service by baptizing a doll.
- In the Games Workshop students will participate in a reverse Jeopardy game which will reinforce story details.
- In the Storytelling Workshop students will enjoy a visit from John the Baptist!
- In the Video Workshop students will watch portions of the video The Animated Stories from the New Testament: John the Baptist while enjoying popcorn (can’t have a movie without popcorn!)
I wonder which workshop will be the favorite of your child?
Photo credits: Banner photo (not visible in readers or email) – Pink Sherbert Photography on Flickr, licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic