John the Baptist preached prepare! Any preparation for us?

A camelJohn 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…
A locust

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

Workshop schedule for January 2011 – John Baptizes Jesus

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…

Date Games Art Cooking Drama Storytelling Video
Room 211 Room 212 Pine Room Room 215 Room 204 Social Hall
1/16 2nd grade 5th grade 3rd grade 6th grade 4th grade 1st grade
1/23 1st grade 4th grade 2nd grade 5th grade 6th grade 3rd grade
1/30 3rd grade 6th grade 1st grade 4th grade 5th grade 2nd grade

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