The hidden meaning behind the parable of the sower?

Anyone for hide and seek?
a child playing hide and seek

Why did Jesus use parables to teach things in hidden ways?
Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubble what is a parable?

In this parable (this story that teaches a special lesson with a hidden meaning) do you suppose Jesus was trying to tell us how to plant seeds?
No, this story is more than a description of farming practices. But what is the hidden meaning?
Time Out. Talk about…A speech bubbleWhat do you suppose the hidden meaning is?

Did you see this parable as describing the degree to which people accept God? The seed can be considered the message of God’s forgiveness, salvation and great love for us. The various kinds of soil in the story represent the hearts of those who hear of this message.

The four soils represent us!

That’s right, us — at various stages in our life, and even within one day. This talk of your “heart” means the deepest level of yourself; how we respond to the good news about Jesus.

Time Out. Talk about… A speech bubbleReview the four types of soil presented in this parable. How does each soil describe a person’s reaction to God?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
Need a review of the parable? Watch the video in this post.

How are you preparing your heart for the seed Jesus is sowing?

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Game of hide and seek by Makelessnoise licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Family dinner games for the Parable of the Sower

The cover of the book: The Family Dinner

So what games have you been playing at the dinner table?

Playing games is what makes eating dinner together fun! (And memorable.) The book The Family Dinner has this to say about the goal of game playing at supper…

To lead everyone to great family stories and good conversations.

And if that conversation tends toward talking about issues of faith… all the better.

Here’s some games you can play that tie in with our current Rotation for the Cool Disciples at FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI.

  • What would you plant? Take turns telling what each family member would like to grow if you had a large garden.
  • Take it up a notch… assuming you could grow anything (such as colors of paint, or types of cars) what would each person like to try growing and why?
  • Play “Fortunately/Unfortunately” – one person starts off telling a story with a good or fortunate occurrence. Start off with: “Once upon a time, a farmer had good weather so he decided to plant some seeds.” The next person adds to the story with an unfortunate event, for example: “Unfortunately his bag for the seed had a hole in it.” The next person remedies the situation with another fortunate event, such as: “Fortunately, this farmer had a neighbor who had an extra bag.” Etc., etc. Back and forth with fortunate and unfortunate episodes.
  • Review the four different types of soil in the Parable of the Sower and note what happened to the seed on each soil. Go around the table and have everyone add one line to a modern-day story that conveys the same meaning. (How about a story about learning to ice skate?)

Have fun!

For more on making family dinners a priority, read here.

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licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Book cover – from my archives. (I took a picture of this book when I had it out of the library!)

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Cultivating the soil

Spring is coming! It will soon be time to plant seeds! I’ve been enthusiastically planning my garden; dreaming of lush lettuce and tasty tomatoes. I love growing veggies and flowers!
Packages of seeds - flowers & herbs

Spring is a great time to talk about sowing seeds, so this month the 1st – 6th graders (the Cool Disciples) at First United Methodist Church (FUMC in Ann Arbor, MI), are studying a Rotation on the Parable of the Sower.
You can read this parable in Mark 4:1-9.

Time Out. Talk about…What is needed for a seed to grow? A speech bubble

Soil, sun, water, love… Did you know that there is something else that needs growing, that takes just as much care and attention?

Cultivating the soil of a thankful heart.

How does one nurture such a garden? Here’s one idea: Keep a list. Take up a notebook and start a list of the things for which your family is grateful. Jot a thankful every day, perhaps at the family dinner table. (Make putting out the journal be a part of setting the table!)

Time Out. Talk about…What are you thankful for today? A speech bubble

Here are a few from my gratitude journal.

590. Chickadees, waiting for the feeder to be filled.
594. Friends, both old and new.
597. Sunshine (after several days of gray.)
601. Drawer dividers for organizing.
605. Textures on tree bark.
607. A husband who is a great cook.
613. Opportunities for my children that allow them to stretch their wings.

How does your garden gratitude grow?

Where did my list making start? Click on this button…

Button to access the web site: A Holy Experience.

Photo credits:
Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
Seed packages by LollyKnit from Flickr, licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
Button from A Holy Experience.

What is a parable? What is a sower?

The Sower - a painting by Van GoghThe Bible has been around for a long, long time. It existed even before it was written down! In those days the Bible was passed along as stories; stories told around the campfire at night or where ever people gathered.

Stories have tremendous power.

Time Out. Talk about… What do you like best about stories?  A speech bubble

Stories teach us. Have you ever had a story grab your attention, or spark your imagination, or evoke a strong emotion? That’s what stories can do! Jesus was a master storyteller. He often taught using a type of story called a parable.

Time Out. Talk about… Kids: Tell the adults what a parable is.  A speech bubble

(They’ve probably forgotten. If you don’t know, read on!)

Jesus often taught using parables. There are over thirty parables of Jesus found in the Gospels! This month the 1st – 6th graders (the Cool Disciples) at FUMC (First United Methodist Church) in Ann Arbor, MI, are doing a Rotation on the parable known as the “Parable of the Sower.”

A parable is a story that teaches a special lesson with a hidden meaning. The word parable has its origin in the Greek word paraballein, which literally means, “to throw one thing down alongside another.” I’ll bet that when Jesus got in the boat to start teaching the crowd, he looked around and what did he see in the distance? Someone doing some farm work; perhaps someone sowing seed.

Time Out. Talk about… How was seed sown in Jesus’ day?  A speech bubble

Sowing, not to be confused with sewing (which is done with a needle and thread) is another word for planting seed. In first century Palestine, farming was an important occupation. Sowers carried shoulder bags full of seed and scattered the seed by hand, walking along the length and breadth of their fields throwing fistfuls of seed out across the soil. Everyone in the crowd knew farming in this manner. Jesus’ use of this well-known image – a farming technique – helped his listeners understand the less familiar concept that was the hidden portion of the parable. I’ll bet you’re expecting a question about the hidden meaning… you’ll have to wait until next week for that discussion! (Okay, check it out here.)

Our parable is called the “Parable of the Sower” but it could be called the “Parable of Soils.” It chronicles the hand-cast seed as falling on four types of soil. Watch this three minute video which has no words, just music. Watch it once and listen. Watch it again and let your kids tell the story. Enjoy!

(If reading this in an email, you can watch this video on YouTube.)

a blue line

Photo credits:
The Sower, a painting by Vincent van Gogh, is in the Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Video by RodTheNey, who licensed this under a Creative Commons License.

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Workshop Schedule for March 2011

Stain glass window showing a sower

On Sunday mornings, our Cool Disciples (our 1st – 6th graders) experience Rotation Model Sunday’s school, as they learn about Bible stories and concepts through kid-friendly multimedia workshops.

In March, we are studying the Parable of the Sower.

Read about our story in Mark 4:1-9.

Here is the schedule for the next three weeks…

Date Art 1 Art 2 Cooking Newsroom Games Video
Room 212 Room 211 Pine Room Room 215 Room 204 Social Hall
3/13 2nd grade 5th grade 3rd grade 6th grade 4th grade 1st grade
3/20 1st grade 4th grade 2nd grade 5th grade 6th grade 3rd grade
3/27 3rd grade 6th grade 1st grade 4th grade 5th grade 2nd grade

What’s happening in each workshop?

  • We’ll be running two Art Workshops – one for younger students and one for older students. (This must mean we’re doing a really neat project!) Yep! Students will use clay in a unique way to create a “sowing scene” with which they can re-tell the story.
  • In the Cooking Workshop we will continue our theme of using items in unusual ways; students will be playing with their food! They will listen to music and the story being re-told, and formulate a visual interpretation of the Parable of the Sower… using snack foods! (Some eating will be allowed.)
  • In the Newsroom Workshop students will create (and videotape) ads selling products or services that might help us be more open to God’s Word. (Anyone need a Sunday-Morning-Bed-Launcher?)
  • In the Games Workshop students will use their bodies (both to answer questions and to move as game pieces) on a life-sized game board. They’ll hear situations and decide which sort of soil applies.
  • In the Video Workshop students will watch portions of the live-action video The Visual Bible: Matthew. They’ll also explore the meanings of the different soils by voing in a unique manner.

All sorts of curiosities happening this month! Don’t want to miss these 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 from Flickr: Banner photo (not visible in readers or email) by Pink Sherbert Photography.
Stain glass sower by Jonathan O’Donnell. Both licensed under: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic