Family Resources - June 7
Happy June everyone! May your summer months be filled with peace and joy and sweet family moments!
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson from the Gospel Story Curriculum for this week is about Jacob’s Wrestling Match. The biblical account can be found in Genesis 32:1-32. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
The opening object lesson focuses on God’s strength and power. Challenge your children to an arm wrestling match. Quickly beat all your children but the last one (this works best if the youngest child is last). When you get to your last arm wrestling match, give them a good struggle before eventually allowing them to win. Then ask your children if they think you are strong enough to have beaten all of them. Ask them what happened in the last match, and get them to answer that you allowed your child to win. Use this lesson as an illustration that God is stronger than all of us, by a LOT. But because of His love and His plan for us, He sometimes allows us to question Him and learn from that rather than quickly overpowering us.
A game you can play with younger children is to pretend to be the angel in the story. Have your children take turns walking past you, and as they do, reach out one finger and touch their arm or leg. Have them pretend the touch hurts. If you touch their leg, have them limp and hop away. If you touch their arm, have them hold their "wound" with their other hand. After everyone has had a turn, talk about how this game helps us remember the story, and how the angel touched Jacob's hip and set it out of joint. Remember that God did this, not to hurt Jacob, but to help Jacob learn that God is all powerful. If your children are slightly older, you could have them mime wrestle an angel, but when you touch their hip, they should fall to the ground, pretending to be hurt, but still holding onto the angel as Jacob did.
With older children, ask them if they are ever afraid, and what kind of things make them afraid. Make a list together, then rank the list, determining which of these things is the most scary. Ask them what made Jacob afraid in our story? When he was busy being scared of Esau, was he focused on God? When we spend our time in fear, we lose our focus on God as well. Explain that there are still healthy fears in our world. For example, the fear of heights keeps us from going too close to the edge of a cliff and falling off. The greatest fear we can have, though, is the fear of the Lord, since this keeps us from sin and produces faith as we consider His awesome power!
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your kids as you go through this lesson. First of all, talk about how God changed Jacob's name to Israel. Jacob means "heel grabber", and it was because Jacob was born holding onto Esau's heel. But Israel means "he will rule as God". God changed Jacob's name to show that from now on he would no longer be someone who held onto power by the heel, trying desperately to be first in everything, but that he would now be the ruler of the people of God, the Israelites. It was an outward sign of inward change, and of a promised identity and work of God. Secondly, talk about how the angel that Jacob wrestles with is no ordinary angel, but is God Himself! (see Genesis 32:30). God appeared to Jacob in the midst of his fear of Esau, and allowed Jacob to witness His power when He touched Jacob's hip and set it out of joint. He was graciously showing Himself to Jacob, and redirecting Jacob's gaze to the One whom we should fear, rather than man. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Since we are in a new month, we have a new Sword Bible Memory Verse. Our June verse comes from Proverbs 3. For preschoolers, they are learning Proverbs 3:5. For K-2nd, they are learning Proverbs 3:5-7. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Proverbs 3:1-8. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #6.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #45 - “Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?” Answer - “No, only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.” The biblical passage for this lesson comes from Luke 3:15-22. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Luke 3:16.
A good object lesson involves the use of a small whiteboard, such as you would hang on your refrigerator. (Preschool teacher trick, a laminated piece of paper will also do the trick!) You will need a permanent marker and a dry erase marker (preferably red). Prior to the lesson, use the permanent marker to draw a heart on the whiteboard, and then write the word SIN in the middle of it. Show it to your child and ask them to erase it. Provide an eraser/tissue/washcloth for the job. Suggest getting a wet cloth to clean it. Does the water wash the permanent marker away? No, and neither does it wash our sins away. Dry the board thoroughly. Only the blood of Christ can wash away our sins. Use the red dry erase marker to color over the heart and word, completely covering it up. Now, with a dry tissue, you should be able to wipe off the permanent marker with the dry erase. (If it doesn’t all come off at once, apply more dry erase on the black lines).
As you teach this lesson to your kids, encourage them in their faith to see how Jesus has ordained that baptism is to be the normal experience for every believer. However, He also established that baptism is not necessary to salvation in the story of the thief on the cross. Read Luke 23:39-43 with your kids, helping them to see that even though the thief was not baptized, Jesus confirmed His faith and assured him of salvation. And where was Jesus when He did this? On the cross, shedding His blood in order to save us. What a mighty God we serve!
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend:
http://www.trillianewbell.com/2020/03/20/free-gift-family/ (Trillia Newbell offers a free read aloud of her excellent book, God’s Very Good Idea. This is a great resource to help your child understand that all people of all races are created in God’s image and are loved equally by Him.)
https://www.worldvision.org/christian-faith-news-stories/pray-children-around-world (World Vision offers specific prayers that can be prayed for children all over the world. This is a great way to engage your children in prayer for other children in other parts of the world. I would also add that these suggested prayers were posted before Covid-19 hit, so it would be a good idea to also pray for these children as their families and communities go through the same pandemic and social distancing we are going through.)
https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/three-tips-on-teaching-your-children-about-racism (This article is written by a Christian mom, and has some great, practical tips on discussing the issue of race with your children, even if they are very young. She is quick to point to the scriptures and our need for Jesus.)