Over the last several weeks, our children have been asking seemingly simple questions that don’t have definitive answers. When can we play with our friends again? Why can’t we go back to school? And the big one: When will this be over? Because of the rapidly changing information coming from scientists and our governments, it’s difficult to answer these questions in satisfactory ways. The uncertainty can be unsettling for young minds. Even though we may not have clear answers to these questions, we can reassure our children that the truths shown to us through the life, ministry and resurrection of Jesus remain steadfast. In this activity, children will encounter a moment of uncertainty in the lives of Jesus’ disciples and will discover how Jesus provides comfort by reminding them he has shown them the way.
Begin the time with your children by playing a game. Blindfold a child and tell him/her you will serve as a guide as the two of you walk around the room. (If you have more than one child in your home, one child can serve as the guide and one as the blindfolded person.) Move the child through the room you are in taking care to keep them safe. Remove the blindfold and discuss the experience. Ask the child to reflect on how they felt during the game. Was there anything that made him/her uncomfortable? What helped to comfort the child? Explain that uncertainty can make us feel nervous or uneasy. However, when we know we have someone we can trust by our side, we can relax.
Read aloud John 14:1-14. (Before reading, you may want to contextualize the passage for your children. At this point in the Gospel of John, Jesus is celebrating his final Passover meal with his disciples. After washing their feet, he tells them one of them will betray him and he will soon leave them.) As you are reading, ask your children to notice the questions that the disciples ask Jesus and how he responds to them. After the reading, discuss their observations. Note that the disciples’ questions show they are concerned and uncertain. However, Jesus reassures them that he has prepared the way for them and has shown them all they need to know. By knowing him, they have known God, the Father.
To explore what it means to know God by knowing Jesus, you can engage in this art activity with your children. Begin by brainstorming a list of things that Jesus did or said during his earthly ministry. Ask your children to think of the stories they have heard that describe Jesus’ words or actions. Jot these down. Then ask them what they think Jesus was trying to show or tell his disciples through these events. Write these down beside the events. Once you have an ample list of “lessons” Jesus taught, you’re ready to begin the craft.
Have your children write or drawn each of these lessons on a separate strip of paper or notecard. (Notecards make for an easy way to create the core pieces for this craft, but if you don’t have any available at home, you can also cut 2- or 3-inch-wide strips of from standard printer paper.)
After the children have finished making these pieces, decide with them how to present what they have learned from Jesus through stories in the Bible. They may choose to create a map, since these lessons are a roadmap for knowing God. They may also choose to place the pieces in a circle, as we continually return to Jesus’ teachings throughout our lives. They may also choose an entirely different format.
Once they have decided how to organize their art, choose a piece of paper or cardboard for them to place the lessons on. Then have them glue the notecards or paper strips on this background media in the decided upon pattern. They may choose to embellish the piece with other drawings.
Hang the finished piece of art somewhere in your home that your family will see it on a regular basis. Over the next few weeks, periodically discuss the ways that you and your children are embodying these truths and in turn come to know the glory, grace and love of God.
JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.