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Family Resources - April 1

We’re finally out of March (what a long month that was!), and into April!  Yes, we’re all still quarantined, but it’s refreshing that at least this one little thing has changed.  It gives me hope for the future, that things can change and that one day we will see an end to this. While we’re waiting, though, 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!

With Easter just around the corner, we are taking a break from our Abraham story in the Gospel Story curriculum, and focusing on Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life.  Our lesson is about Lazarus, taken from John 11. If you have older kids, you may just want to read the whole chapter with them, as there is so much richness in it. For younger kids, you can read verses 17-44 and still get the main story.  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.

One activity that is good with younger children focuses on Jesus’ power of life and death.  You will need a dead flower. Pick one the night before and leave it on the counter. Ask your children if the flower is alive or dead.  (It's dead). Ask them if they can make it come to life by saying, "Flower, live again!" Let them try a few times. You can even take a turn or two yourself.  Despite your best efforts, the flower remains dead. That's because you are only a person. Jesus could make the flower come to life, and He did make Lazarus come to life, just by saying, "Lazarus, come out".  That's because He's not only a person, He is the Son of God.

Another similar activity the lesson recommends is to send your kids on a scavenger hunt.  Have them look first for things that are alive: a pet, a plant, a person, an insect, etc. Congratulate them on finding things that are living.  Now send them out again to find something that is dead: a stick, an under-watered plant, an animal pelt, or, if you're like me, one of the millions of stink bugs that invaded my home only to curl up and die in the corners.  Ask them to explain to you why the things they brought the second time are dead. Make them really think about it. If they say, "Because it doesn't move", ask them if the plant they brought the first time moves. If they say, "Because it doesn't breathe", mention the plant again, asking if it breathes.  Ask the children if they can bring the dead objects back to life to be like the living things they found? Of course they cannot, although they may try one or two things to see. Ultimately, it is impossible for us to bring things back to life, because we are merely human. But Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, He is the Son of God.  He not only can bring people back to life, but He does it. He has promised to do so for every child of God, restoring us to life, and allowing us to share that life eternal with God the Father.

There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your children while going through this story.  First of all, this is a story about how Jesus is God. Before you begin to read the story to your kids, you can let them know that, and have them be on a “God Alert” as you read.  Tell them to listen closely for anytime the story seems to be telling us that Jesus is God. If they hear something, they are to immediately raise their hands. Whenever they do, pause in your reading and allow them to tell you what they heard that points to Jesus being God.  Another point to draw out to your kids is that when Mary and Martha saw that their brother was very sick, they asked Jesus for help. We like to do that, too, when someone we know and love is sick. Take time to pray with your kids, helping them bring their friends before the throne and pray for those around us who are sick or hurting.  Finally, there is the focus on Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus has ultimate power over sin and over life. If your children are a little older, have them look up and read these three passages with you: Hosea 13:14, John 11:25-26, and 1 Corinthians 15:55-58. How are these passages similar? What hope do they give us? This is a particularly comforting thought during the current crisis we are in.  

With a new month, the children have a new Sword Bible Memory Verse to learn.  For April, our verse is taken from Psalm 145. For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 145:3.  For grades K-2, they are learning Psalm 145:1-3. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Psalm 145:1-6.  To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #4.  Alternatively, if you’d like a memory verse more specific to Easter, this week’s lesson recommends learning John 11:25-26.  This might be a great verse to focus on for the first 2 weeks of April before switching to our assigned Sword Bible Memory Verse for the last 2 weeks.  

The New City Catechism Question for this week is Question #36 - “What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?”  Answer - “That He is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son.” The biblical passage for this Q&A comes from John 14:15-31.  The weekly memory verse for this age group is John 14:16-17.

To help your children understand a little bit more about who the Holy Spirit is, there is a True or False quiz in this week’s lesson.  You can either have your children say True or False, or they could move to touch whichever side of the room stands for True or False. Here are the 7 statements, with answers and scripture references:

1. The Holy Spirit first appears in the New Testament

False.  The Holy Spirit is coeternal with God and was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1)

2. The Holy Spirit is a person

True.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity

3. The Holy Spirit lives in all people

False.  The Holy Spirit dwells in those who have been born again. (Romans 8:9-10)

4. The Holy Spirit first appeared on the day of Pentecost

False.  The Holy Spirit came upon believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), but He has existed eternally and been active throughout history (1 Samuel 16:13)

5. The Holy Spirit is the promised Helper

True.  Jesus promised to send Someone in His place when He ascended into heaven (John 14:15-17).  The Holy Spirit is that promised Helper.

6. The Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son in the Trinity.

True.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is equal to the Father and the Son in the Trinity.  The Trinity is made up of three equal persons in one God.

7. The Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son.

True.  The members of the Godhead have always existed in a loving relationship (1 John 4:16)

Another way to help your child think about the person of the Holy Spirit is to play the christian rap song “Triune Praise” by Shai Linne.  You can find the song, and lyrics, on youtube here:  Let your child listen to it once through, then give them a piece of paper and have them write down words or ideas that stand out to them about the Trinity, specifically the Holy Spirit, and decorate it while listening to the song one more time through.  

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:

Crafts (There are lots of good activities here to celebrate Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.)

Bookmarks (These are fun to print out and decorate, then keep in your bible, books, etc)  (A suggested story: “God’s Story: Palm Sunday” which runs for 2:47.  Also 3 praise songs, each for a different age group: “Ho-Ho Hosanna Ha-Ha Hallelujah - song” which runs for 2:19, “Hosanna Praise is Rising” which runs for 3:30, and “Happy Day (with lyrics) - Fee” which runs for 3:33)