Luke 2; Children’s Illustrated Bible, pp. 200-201
Occurring during Passover, it foreshadows Jesus’ ministry and passion. It suggests that, even as a child, Jesus knew he was the son of God and possessed and understanding of his destiny. His response to his parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” is both prophetic and adolescent.
Before the reading, ask the students what we do at St. Paul’s each week. What do we learn? What do we talk about in Sunday School? What do we do together as a community? What do kids do together?
After the reading, ask:
Do you think Mary and Joseph made Jesus go to temple? Do your parents make you go to church? What do you like about coming to church? What don’t you like?
In the story, what do people do in the temple? (learn, discuss things, ask questions, talk about scripture)
How do people from St. Paul’s:
· Help each other? (make food for people when they are sick, talk to people when they are said, help people find jobs)
· Help people outside the parish? (Goat basket, Walk for Hunger, Honduras, Food Pantry, Common Cathedral)
· Worship and learn? (Sunday services, sermons, Sunday School, Christmas Pageant, retreat, adult ed)
· Work together? (do coffee hour, have yard sale, clean up)
Hey, what’s up?
Put up a poster-sized Post-it.
Have students ask questions and make observations about St. Paul’s – anything they want! These can be about why we do things a certain way, suggestions about doing things differently, the architecture or decorations in the church – anything! Record answers on the Post-it. At coffee hour, post the questions on the walls and invite adults and students from other classes to talk about your questions.
Jesus, Mary & Joseph Puppet Video
Use popsicle sticks to create Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Re-enact the story in your own words. Then make a video of the story to post on St. Paul’s facebook page to share with the parish.
Life of Jesus
John Baptizes Jesus
Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1
Children’s Illustrated Bible p.202; Family Story Bible p. 174; The Beginner’s Bible p. 303
The Christian practice of baptizing new members as a rite of initiation developed from Jewish roots. The practice of baptism or ritual cleansing was common among Jews. From the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, scholars know that the Essenes, a Jewish sect of ascetics, were baptized regularly and not just once. Some scholars believe that John the Baptist may have been a member of a sect like the Essenes.
Baptisms had two meanings in Jesus’ lifetime, first as a bath for ritual purity and second as part of preparation for a religious service. In the story of John the Baptist, John is concerned with the way God’s people have turned from God (sin) and calls them to be baptized. Through baptism, we commit to a new lifestyle, receive support form the Holy Sprit in a community of faith, and live in expectation that we will be part of God’s promised reign.
Doves are powerful symbols in many cultures. In Greek tradition, the dove represents the human soul. In China, the dove represents peace in the next life. What do doves mean to you? What other bible stories contain doves? (Noah’s Ark) What does the dove in that story represent? Is the dove a good symbol for the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?
What baptisms have you seen or been a part of? What happens in a baptism? Do you remember being baptized?
The gospels of Mark and John both begin with his baptism. What has already happened in Matthew’s story? In Luke’s?
In some churches, people are baptized when they are babies and so they don’t remember. In other places, people are baptized when they are older. Baptism is a way to welcome someone into a community. It is a team effort. One person baptizes another. In our church, godparents promise to help raise the baby spiritually. Jesus was baptized into a community. John was a part of Jesus’ family as his cousin, and spiritually.
Bring Lives of the Saints and Pick a Baby’s Name books. For younger children, look up names of students in the class and discuss their meanings. For older classes, this can be done as a confirmation activity. Confirmation is a renewal of baptismal vows that were made for us. Some Christians who are getting confirmed choose a name that represents an aspect of their spiritual growth. What name would you choose? What does it represent about who you are becoming?
Make hanging doves. Check the links below to see details to make two types of doves.
Create a sturdy cardboard template of a dove’s head and body. Use the template to make a dove bodies of white cardboard, or let children trace the template and cut out their own dove. Make a slit in the dove’s body. Show children how to pleat white tissue paper to make a fan. Decorate the dove by drawing or gluing eyes, beak and feathers. Slide the pleated paper through the slit to make wings. Punch a hole in the body and thread a white ribbon through it for hanging. Hang in the class or in your room.