Click here for General Assembly coverage

Family faith formation at home for March 29, 2020: Jesus and emotions


One: Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer.

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Connecting with Scripture: John 11:1-45

Today’s scripture from the Gospel of John is quite long and may be difficult for younger children to follow along. Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible  — or you may want to tell the story using this story rendition of the passage.

Jesus was very good friends with Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. They lived in Bethany but Jesus was in another town teaching and preaching. One day Mary sent a message to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. When Jesus heard this, he thought Lazarus would get better so he kept on doing his ministry. Two days later he realized that Lazarus has actually died. He and his disciples went to Bethany and found that Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Mary and Martha were very sad because their brother had died and their friends gathered around them to try and make them feel better. When they say Jesus arrive Martha lashed out in pain and anger and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her crying, and their friends feeling very sad as well, he was deeply moved. When Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus was Jesus wept, too. Those around him saw how much Jesus loved Lazarus. Then, Jesus went to Martha and told her to move the stone away from the tomb. Martha was very hesitant to do this but Jesus insisted. Martha did as Jesus asked. Suddenly Jesus said in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” and Lazarus lived again by the power of God in Jesus.

Ask those gathered to close their eyes and listen to the Scripture read aloud again.

  • What do you think Mary and Martha were feeling? Thinking?
  • Why did they send for Jesus?
  • What was Jesus thinking? Feeling? 

Connecting through story

Watch this clip from the movie “Bridge to Terabithia.” It portrays the range of emotions when a boy learns about the death of his best friend.

  • What were the emotions that each member of the family was feeling?
  • How did they deal with those emotions?
  • In what ways were the feelings in the movie like the ones in the story from John?

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • When we are angry, sad, hurt, scared and lonely, how do we react?
  • Whom do we turn to for help or comfort?
  • What do you think the story of Martha, Mary, Lazarus and Jesus has to teach us?
  • Why does it help to know that Jesus understands when we are angry, sad, hurt, scared and lonely?
  • How can we help others when they are feeling angry, sad, hurt, scared and lonely?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • This can be a difficult text for children and families in these challenging days we are facing.
  • It is important to acknowledge there is no feeling or emotion we should try to hide from God and from our families.
  • We believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully human.
  • Because he was God, he could do powerful things like resurrecting Lazarus.
  • Because he was human, he understood all our human emotions as well.
  • Sometimes people think because we have faith and God loves us we should always be happy. Faith does not guarantee that bad things never happen or that we will always be happy.
  • Our faith assures us that God is always with us — even when we are sad.
  • We know that God understands when we are sad because Jesus was sad sometimes too.

In these times of social distancing and isolation, take a moment to think about who might be feeling angry, sad, hurt, scared or lonely.  Write to them, draw a card, phone a friend or send a text to let them know they are loved and are not alone. You care, God cares and even though there is physical distance between you, love transcends any distance or barrier. 


Use this clip as a part of your closing.

This delightful story about a pirate, Tough Boris, and his parrot helps children see that emotions and grief happen to everyone.

Close your time together by prayer for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.