Family Resources - September 20
Halfway through September already! I hope everyone is feeling settled into this new school year. That new routines and practices are becoming comfortably familiar, even if they’re still not comfortably your favorites, or the way you’re used to doing things. Hang in there, this too shall pass.
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 for this week from the Gospel Story Curriculum is about the Golden Calf. You can find the biblical account in Exodus 32. Although this can be a difficult lesson to teach to younger kids, there are lots of nuggets of wisdom in here, as well as much that points us to Jesus. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. There is also a preschool version of the story of the Golden Calf from the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible, which you can find by clicking here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.
Use some yellow paper to cut out the shape of a cow/calf. Cut up the rest of the yellow paper into small pieces of "jewelry". Hide the cow in a paper bag, but give the jewelry to your kids. Talk about how the Israelites gave their gold jewelry to Aaron to make an idol out of, and have your kids give you their gold jewelry by putting it in the bag (but don't let them see the cow). After you've collected the pieces, shake the bag a little and tell the children you are heating the gold so that it melts together and you can make it into something, then pull out the cow. Ask them if this is a god. Put the cow on the table and say, "I'm thirsty. Golden Calf, will you get me some water?" The cow, or course, will do nothing. That's because idols can do nothing. Only God can help us, save us, protect us, create us, watch over us, love us, etc. He is God alone!
For this object lesson, you will need an assortment of items: a toy, some candy, sports cards (or sportswear), a $5 bill, and a can of soda. Hold up the items one by one and ask your child if they love toys? Candy? Sports? Money? Soda? Then ask if they've ever sinned because of their love for these things. Have they ever whined about wanting more candy or soda? Have they ever been mad because their sports team lost? That would be sinning because of their love for something other than God. The Bible has another name for this kind of sin, over something we love other than God: it's idolatry. In the Old Testament, idolatry usually meant somebody was worshipping a statue. Some people still worship statues today. But idols can be more than just statues, too. They can be anything that takes our love away from God. It's ok to enjoy these things (I myself love a nice cold Coca-Cola!), but we don't want to love them more than God.
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your children as you go through this lesson. First of all, Israel turned to idols because they were tired of waiting and trusting in the One True God. While you may not decide to make a statue and worship it and bow down to it, we are all still tempted in this same way. We sometimes grow weary of waiting and trusting in the Lord. This season of covid and social distancing and restrictions is a good example. It's hard to wait through all of this and wonder why the Lord doesn't just take this virus away. But we don't have to turn to something else, like tv or parties or food to make us happy during this time (that would be using these good things as idols, if we ask them to make us happy, instead of God). We need to wait on the Lord, trusting Him that He is in control. After all, "the Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you..." (2 Peter 3:9). Another good point to emphasize is that Moses interceded for the people. When God spoke of His anger at the people's sin, this was not the same as when we get mad about stuff. This was God's holy wrath against sin. The punishment for sin is death, and the people of Israel deserved to die because of their sin. But Moses spoke to the Lord on their behalf, offering to die in their place so that they might live. Now, Moses was a sinner, too, so his death could not possibly have saved the Israelites, but what was happening here was a picture pointing forward to Jesus. Jesus intercedes for us, too, when we sin and deserve to die for our sins. Jesus offered to die in our place so that we might live. Only Jesus was actually holy and blameless, not a sinner, so His death does save us. Jesus is our mediator.
Our Sword Bible Memory Verse for September comes from Exodus 20. For preschoolers, they are learning Exodus 20:12. For K-2nd grade, they are learning Exodus 20:12-16 (which sounds like more than it is). And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Exodus 20:10-17. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #9.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #8 - “What is the law of God stated in the Ten Commandments?” Answer - “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony. You shall not covet.” In the next four weeks, we will go more in depth with the various commandments. This first week is the preliminary overview. The biblical account of the giving of the 10 commandments can be found in Exodus 20. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Exodus 20:3.
The art activity that goes along with this lesson involves giving your child a piece of scratch paper (black, with color underneath), and a toothpick, and having them use their toothpick to scratch out an image of the 2 tablets of stone, with the commandments written on them (or you could have them write the numbers 1-5 on one tablet and 6-10 on the other). If you don’t have scratch paper, it is possible to make a version of it yourself. Start with a half sheet of white cardstock (you can use regular paper if you don’t have cardstock, but if you do, it’s recommended that you glue 3-4 pieces together to make it thick enough). Choose 2-4 various colors to start with. Color them all over the paper in whatever pattern or design you want, making sure to completely cover the page. Press down hard enough to make them dark and solid. When the whole paper is covered with color, use a black crayon to completely cover the colors up. Give your hand a break, then use your toothpick to etch out a design on your homemade scratch paper!
The lesson also suggests playing a game of charades with your kids, where you and your child take turns silently acting out a different commandment while the other has to guess which one. This would be especially fun to bring younger children into as well, since they’ve just gone through the Ten Commandments in their lesson a couple of weeks ago.
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://bibleschoolteachers.blogspot.com/2011/12/golden-calf-centers.html (There are some great preschool ideas for teaching the story of the golden calf in here. My one recommendation though is I would skip the art project, where the kids actually make golden calves. We don’t want to make idols, that was the Israelites problem in the first place.)
https://youtu.be/FBnJZ2s9_ns (A youtube video for younger children, retelling the story of the golden calf)
https://youtu.be/yBcW7X0myI8 (A youtube video from the Village Church for adults/older children, about how we are tempted to worship things in the culture around us, as the Israelites worshipped the golden calf)
https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/how-to-make-your-own-scratch-art (Another way to make homemade scratch paper)