Making choices can be hard for kids, especially when they are presented with multiple attractive options. On a hot day, would you rather go swimming or to go see a movie in an air-conditioned theatre? Or would you rather eat an ice cream cone or a popsicle? Our choices demonstrate what is important to us whether we intend for them to or not. In this week’s lesson, children will explore the connection between our “treasure” and our “hearts.” They will consider how they might use the resources they have to reflect and their faith.
Begin your time with the children by showing them this clip from the movie “Goonies.” Before showing it, tell the children they will be seeing a video about children finding a long-lost pirate treasure. Encourage them to notice what the kids do and how they react when they find the treasure.
After watching the clip, ask the children to reflect on what they saw. Based on how the characters in the movie act, what do you think is important to them? Would you call them selfish or greedy? Why or why not? What do you think the characters will do with the gold? The children will likely notice that the characters gather up as much gold and jewels as they can. They appear to be hoarding it, taking all that they can fit in their pockets and bags. It seems as if they are being greedy. Once the children have shared their opinions, provide them with some context for what they saw. Explain that the kids in this movie go looking for this hidden treasure after they find a map. They aren’t seeking wealth to keep for themselves. Rather they are trying to find it so that their parents can afford to stay in their homes. Ask the children if knowing this information changes the way they view the characters. Invite them to explain why the context matters.
Exploring the passage
Prepare to read aloud Luke 12:32-34. Note that this lesson focuses only on a few verses from this week’s gospel lectionary text. Tell the group that the verses they are about to hear are Jesus’ words. He is continuing the message that he began in the reading from last week. If you explored Luke 12:13-21 last week, ask the children to recount what Jesus had to say about focusing on wealth. If you did not study this text, share that Jesus tells a crowd a story about a rich man who becomes consumed by storing up all he has. Rather than sharing the crops that he grows and the good that he has, he builds increasingly larger barns to keep his possessions. He tells himself that he finally has enough to allow him to “relax, eat drink, be merry.” However, on the day he reaches this point, God tells him it is the last day of his life. God calls him a fool, noting he missed out on his whole life by focusing on saving up all he had. Jesus continues teaching about how we can use the resources we have in the verses that we’ll read today.
Read aloud Luke 12:32-34. After reading, ask the children what Jesus says about our possessions. What should we do with what we have? Jesus says to sell all we have and to give alms (gifts or offerings). Have the children react to Jesus’ words. How do they feel about this shocking statement? Then focus in on verse 34. Repeat it to the children. Have them wonder what it means. What is our “treasure”? What is our “heart” (beyond our physical heart)? How are the two connected?
Share that Jesus is reminding his listeners that where we choose to focus the “treasure” we have (our money, time, energy and talents) reflects our “hearts” (our love and beliefs). Give the children a few examples to help them see this connection. You might share a time you used some of your resources to support someone or something important to you or you could explain how the congregation chooses to give their time and financial gifts to particular ministries that they feel called by God to contribute to.
Relating the passage to our lives
Help the children connect Jesus’ words to their own lives through this activity. Prior to the lesson, prepare your materials. Print and cut out enough “play money” for the children so each has $500. You can use this template. Additionally, print and cut out enough of these “timecards” so each child has 10 hours’ worth of time.
Share with the children that they will be practicing how we can use the resources we have to live out our beliefs. Tell them we have many different resources including time, money, talents, possessions and energy. We’re going to focus on two of these in our activity — money and time. Give each child $500 in play money and 10 hours worth of “time.” Explain that these represent their time and money. Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Ask the children to think about how they would use this “treasure” to reflect what they care about. They can use all of the available time and money for one thing, or they can divide it up.
Ask each child to share how they would use this time and money. What would they support? How would their gifts help? Why is it important to them to support this particular thing?
Conclude your time together by encouraging the children to continue reflecting on how they use the resources they have to practice matching their “treasure” with their “hearts” in their daily lives. Say a prayer together asking God to guide our choices so that they might reflect our faith and bring about God’s kingdom on earth.