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Family Resources - April 8

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!!  No matter what else happens this week, nothing can take away our hope and our joy in the risen Lord!  We may not be able to meet together to celebrate Easter Sunday, but that doesn’t make it any less a reason to celebrate.  Easter itself is not canceled, and never can be, because Christ has already completed His work in rising from the dead and defeating sin and death!  With that in mind, 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 our Gospel Story Curriculum for this week is about Doubting Thomas, and how Jesus gently led him to believe in Jesus’ resurrection.  You can find the biblical account of this story in John 20:19-31. 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 Resurrection story, taken from the Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible which you can read here.  To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page.

One object lesson you can do with your kids is to find a box and place an odd assortment of items in it, such as rare collectible type items, or just random things like a butterfly wing, a piece of gum, etc.  There should be 3-5 items in your box before you put the lid on so that what is inside cannot be seen. Tell your kids what you have in the box, but do not show them inside. Ask them if they believe you about what is in the box, or if they think you have something different?  They might ask to see for themselves, but tease them and say, "No, I can't show you what's inside yet, you'll just have to take my word for it." After getting answers from each of them, finally you can open the box and show them the contents. Was it easier for them to believe after they could see the things inside?  In our Bible story, Thomas found it easier to believe in Jesus' resurrection as well after he had seen Him for himself. Jesus graciously revealed Himself to Thomas, and even though we can't see Him with our eyes, He graciously shows us Himself in His word today.

Alternatively, you could choose one of your children to represent Thomas and have them remain where they are while your other children may come look in the box.  Have them go back and describe the things they saw to “Thomas”. After they’re done, “Thomas” may go look, too. Notice how careful your children were to observe and tell in such a way that the unseeing might know.  How can we do that with the story of Jesus?

Another fun activity is to do the egg and water tricks.  Both exercises should be done outside or over a tarp. First trick requires 2 eggs.  Tell your children you are going to toss the egg into the air and clap your hands before catching it again.  Ask them to guess how many times they believe you can clap your hands before you have to catch the egg. After you've collected their guesses, tell them you are going to take 1 practice toss first, then do it for real.  Throw the egg up in the air, but do not catch it, let it come smashing down instead. Apologize for the mess as you clean it up, then get your second egg and tell them you are ready to do it for real now. Select the child of yours who thought you could accomplish the most number of claps, and tell them they get to come lay on the floor under you as you do your trick.  They will almost certainly object, and you can remind them that they said they believed you could do it. After arguing playfully for awhile, dismiss them and move on to trick #2, the water trick. You will need a bucket with a handle. Fill your bucket halfway with water, then ask your kids if they believe you can turn the bucket upside down without spilling the water?  Turn it upside down and let the water spill out. Fill it halfway full again, and ask once more if your kids believe you can do this? If any of them do, allow them to show their belief by laying on the ground under you as you do it. (You will probably want to have practiced this trick beforehand. I'll be honest, I spilled water the first 3 times I tried it, although increasingly less amounts, and the 4th, 5th, and 6th times I spilled not a drop!).  The idea is to swing your bucket like a pendulum, and once you get enough speed take it all the way around. The centrifugal force will keep the water inside the bucket. (Depending on the size of your kid and the size of your bucket, you may want to stand on a chair, so you don't smack your child with the bucket as you're swinging it). These experiments, while fun to do, are also good ways to show your children the difference between the two meanings of belief: 1) acknowledging that something is real and not fake, and 2) placing your whole faith and confidence in someone.

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, highlight to them the fact that God is in control and always knows what He’s doing. It was always a part of God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified on the cross, and after 3 days to be raised up again.  There are many passages in the gospels where Jesus Himself tells people that that is what is going to happen. If you have older children, have them look some of them up and discuss them: Matt 17:9, Mk 8:31, Mk 9:9, Mk 9:31, Mk 10:34, Jn 2:19, Jn 3:14, Jn 8:28, and Jn 12:32.  Take comfort in knowing that God is in control, always. The other good thing to point out to your kids is Jesus’ grace to Thomas. Although we are tempted to look down on Thomas for doubting, to see him as someone unwilling to believe, Jesus saw him differently. Jesus didn’t rebuke Thomas for his unbelief, but graciously came and showed Himself to him, allowing Thomas to touch and see the scars on Jesus’ hands and side.  Jesus does the same thing for all His children, opening up our eyes and hearts to see Him and believe. He is so gracious and loving towards us!

If you are choosing to work with your kids on an Easter specific memory verse, we are still learning John 11:25-26 from last week’s lesson.  This is an excellent verse about the resurrection. Otherwise, our Sword Bible Memory Verse for the month of April comes 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.  

The New City Catechism Question for this week is Question #37 - “How does the Holy Spirit help us?”  Answer - “The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, and He enables us to pray and to understand God’s word.”  The biblical passage for this week’s Q&A comes from Ephesians 6:10-20. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Ephesians 6:17-18.

There is a teaching aid to go along with this week’s lesson.  You can find it here.  It is an illustration of Roman armor, so that as you read through the armor of God, you have some visuals to go along with it.  Place particular emphasis on the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Reference Hebrews 4:12, to help them understand that the Word is a sword, and reference 2 Peter 1:20-21 to help them understand that the Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  You may also want to focus on Eph 6:18, which talks about praying in the Spirit, in order to help them see that the Holy Spirit is an essential component of a Christian’s prayer life.

An art activity you can do is to have your children make swords out of construction paper.  Ask them to write the words “The Sword of the Spirit - Ephesians 6:17” on it. They could also write out the 66 books of the Bible, or perhaps a favorite Bible verse.

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:

Homemade-resurrection-rolls (this recipe recommends making your own bread from scratch, but you could also use a can of crescent roll dough for the same effect.  Also, speaking from experience, don't say the marshmallow has disappeared like Jesus did, because even preschool age kids figure out that the marshmallow has merely melted, and we don't want the kids to learn that Jesus melted.  Instead, put the emphasis on the empty space in the roll, that represents the empty tomb. Melted marshmallow at the bottom can represent the grave clothes.)

Resurrection-eggs (A fun and creative way to retell the Easter story) (An easy craft to celebrate Easter with) (Look up “The Story Keepers - The Easter Story - Jesus Stories”, which runs 1:09:36 long.  This movie was made in 1998, so it’s a little dated, but it still gets me every time I watch it. Not recommended for preschool age children, as there is a lot of danger and adventure in it.)

Hymnsing (Keith and Kristyn Getty, modern hymn writers, are having weekly family hymn sings live on facebook every Tuesday night.  This link will take you to the videos of their previous hymn sings, as well as offer you the option to be notified when they are about to go live again next Tuesday night.)