Each of our Sunday school classes has four components: Gather, Read and Respond, Prayer, and Sending Forth. These are also the four parts of a worship service structured to nurutres connection with God and one another. Here are the meaningful connections I saw on Sunday with the youngest class:
When we gather, we begin with “The Lord be with you,” reminding us that God is with us everywhere. For the first time on Sunday, the children responded, “and also with you,” without a prompt from me. We then moved our arrow one Sunday closer to Easter on the church year calendar. There are lots of questions about the purple Sundays (Lent) and white Sundays (Easter) coming up. They are excited to see what special things we do during these church seasons.
During the reading and response we heard the parable of the mustard seed (Mark 4: 31-32). I asked them what part of the story they liked best. The answers revealed the ways that children imagine our loving God: “I liked when the tree helps the birds to live.” “I like that there is enough room for all the birds.” “The birds are safe.” “I like that something very tiny grows very big!” These are beautiful connections that reveal God’s hopes for this world!
After wondering, we choose how to respond to the story. Some drew their own beautiful mustard plants with pastels. Others made trees and birds from clay. Others started with one tiny lego and built huge creations. It turns out the starships need a safe place to rest, too!
We end each class with prayer. This week I passed around a smooth rock, giving everyone the opportunity to pray for someone or something. There were prayers for relatives facing surgery, prayers of thanks for friends, and gratitude for the warm day. A few chose to hold their prayers in their hearts rather than speak them out loud – this is always an option.
One thing I forgot to do yesterday was to share a lovely thank you from AL. A few weeks ago, when we were discussing Jesus healing, we made cards for Melissa to give to people she was visiting. Their wonderful cards are bringing joy to those who receive them. There’s a photo of the card below. Please share it with the kids!
Then, Sunday afternoon five NUMC youth joined 45 other young people from Northern Illinois United Methodist Church to see the play, Faceless. The play dives deeply into issues of justice, race, gender, community, and faith using the story of a teenage girl accused of terrorism and the attorney prosecuting her case. We enjoyed a rich discussion on the way home, connecting the play with our own experiences and current events.
This Sunday the 19th we will hear the parable of the leaven. I wonder what connections the children will make with yeast and bread? Tweens will begin week 1 of the next series of Connect: Jesus the Savior. Youth will be working with a very important passage, Matthew 25:40: “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’”