Each Sunday we share the peace of Christ with one another as we worship God. While we all feel a sense of connection and warmth in carrying out this ritual, what exactly are we offering to one another when we say “the peace of Christ be with you”? Peace is a sense of calm and wellness that we experience individually. But it’s also a marker of wholeness and unity for a community. In this lesson, children will explore the unique peace Jesus offers us. They will examine the message of peace he offers his disciples in John 14: 23-29 and will discover ways they can reflect the peace of Christ in their own communities.
Begin your time with the children by showing them this video of children sharing what peace means to them. After watching the video, ask the children to share which of the responses in the video fits best with their own definition of peace. If the children focus only on the responses about a personal sense of peace, draw their attention to those that speak of communal peace. Note that peace is something we feel internally and as an individual, but it also a sense of well-being and wholeness in a community.
Exploring the passage
Prepare to read aloud John 14:23-29. Provide context for the reading. Share with the children that the story they will hear comes from the Gospel of John. The text is part of a long message that Jesus offers to his disciples shortly before his death. After washing their feet on the eve of Passover, he teaches them important lessons that he wants them to know once he is no longer with them. He assures them that even though he will not be with them in body, the Holy Spirit will continue to be with them.
Read aloud John 14:23-29. Focus in on verse 27. Re-read it for the group. Ask them to recount what Jesus offers the disciples in this verse. Note that he offers them peace. The peace he gives them is one that is different than what the world offers. It is a peace that is greater than any of our fears or troubles. Have the children wonder about the peace Jesus is offering. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Encourage the children to not only think about individual peace but also communal peace. What does a community look like or feel like when it shares and experiences the peace of Christ?
Share with the children that the peace Jesus offers his disciples in the text we read was not just for the disciples who walked alongside Jesus during his time on earth. It is a message for all disciples of Christ throughout time, including us. Jesus offers peace and encourages us to boldly and fearlessly share and cultivate it wherever we are. Ask the children to share ways that they share and bring about peace within the places and spaces where they spend their time—home, school, extracurricular activities, etc. Highlight the importance of reflecting the peace of Christ in their lives.
Relating the passage to our lives
Tell the children that some people are also called by God to share and build peace worldwide. They see spaces within many communities where there is not peace and they work to build it. While many of us think of adults as being these sorts of peacemakers, there are also children who are working to bring about peace across the world.
Share this video about the International Children’s Peace Prize with the group. After watching the video, introduce the children to some of the winners of the prize. You can find a list of winners here. You can select a few of the prize winners you think the children might be interested in or you can show them the website and allow them to pick those they want to learn more about.
Once you or the children have chosen International Children’s Peace Prize winners to learn more about, give them some time to explore the work of these children. You can divide the children into small groups, have them work individually, or learn as a whole group. When you click on the photo of prize winners on the website above, you’ll be taken to a page that describes the child’s peacemaking work. If the children would like to continue to explore, you can also search for videos about the prize winner on YouTube.
After reading about the child activists, connect their work to the Bible text. How are these children sharing the peace of Christ? How are they helping to build communities where everyone can experience the peace of Christ?
Conclude your time together by praying for the child peacemakers you studied as well as others working to spread the peace of Christ in their communities.