The One About the Cross

“Teacher, when you tell stories, do you think sometimes you could tell me the one about the cross. I keep wondering what that cross is about.” I will never forget that question from a little boy who attended church and my Bible class for the first time.

This little boy had loved the Bible story and learning activities that day. He told his parents and me that he wanted to come back every Sunday (and he did). What he experienced that day with us was extremely important in his faith journey but it was clear that we were not the beginning of his journey. God had been planting seeds in his heart all along the way. Seeds were planted every time this young man passed a church building with a cross on it. Seeds were planted when he would see jewelry and billboards and bibles with crosses on the front.

Seeds are planted at Easter time. Children see the crosses people are putting up on signs and in decorations. The words “Christ”, “Christian”, “Jesus”,”resurrection” and phrases like “He is risen” are uttered by many people whether they understand deeper truths or not. Many children (and adults) wonder, “What does it mean?”

Any day is a good day to share the story of Jesus but Easter time creates a perfect opportunity to answer the questions children are wondering about.

Resources for Telling the Story of Jesus

The One About the Cross

And yes, I shared the story of the cross with that little boy that first day. It was a condensed version but I wanted to make sure he knew that this was one of the most important questions anyone could ever ask.

I told him that God created the whole world and he wanted everyone to be happy and love him. Sadly, people made bad choices and that has made lots of bad things happen in this world. Sometimes people even die. God was very sad that people had caused the earth to be so bad. Even though many people did not follow him he still loved them. So God sent his son, Jesus, from heaven to earth to show everyone how to obey God and make good choices.

But many people did not believe Jesus and got so angry that they made him die on a cross.

But guess what!? He was dead but after 3 days Jesus came alive again! Jesus showed that he is stronger than death and stronger than any bad thing that can ever happen.

Soon after he came back to life, the time came for Jesus to go to heaven to live with his Father again in heaven. Before Jesus left he told his followers to be sure and tell other people the good news. The good news is that “Jesus died but he came alive again!” God says that Jesus dying on the cross means that people can change from being bad to being good. People who follow Jesus do not have to be afraid of dying. If you follow Jesus then you will also come alive again to live in heaven someday!”

And THAT is the one about the cross!

Teaching Alongside the Creator

Teaching with the Creator

In the rush to find scissors and glue we should not neglect the natural supplies God has provided as teaching resources.

We do not teach alone.  We join the Master Teacher, the Creator, who is already using his creation to draw people to Himself:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4, NIV)

and…

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)
 

A student I supervise, Cristy, recently encouraged a group of teachers to bring God’s teaching resources into our classrooms.  Cristy sent a group of teachers outside the building to find and bring back items that teach about God.  (She only allowed them 3 minutes!).

Here are the types items these teachers found:

We thought this might be more of a challenge when we taught the same workshop in Metro Manila (Philippines).  The church building we were in was surrounded by a parking lot devoid of plants and next to a busy street.  Still, when Cristy sent the teachers out they quickly adapted and came back with a wonderful collection of both natural and other teaching items including items such as:

Pointing out God’s creation when we teach brings a profound richness into what we are sharing.  In the years to come children may forget a picture used for illustration or a worksheet.  But, for the rest of their lives they will continue to see leaves and stones and soil.  Connecting these things with spiritual lessons now will mean that the lessons will be reinforced over and over.

I can just imagine the future when one of my students, as an elderly person, picking up a stone and telling his or her grandchild about how the stone was rolled away from the tomb.

I want to teach with the Creator!

After Easter: Empty Eggs and the Empty Tomb

Sometimes it seems like the resurrection of Jesus is just mixed in with the Easter bunny and Easter eggs and that makes me uncomfortable.

I remember, as a young mother, what the “after Easter slump” felt like.  The children were grumpy after their sugar high.  Little bits of fractured egg shell were in the carpet.  I would find candy wrappers and Easter basket grass in all sorts of secret hiding places for weeks to come.

I don’t want to put away the story of Jesus along with the Easter decorations!  It has occurred to me that the days following Easter are a great time to review the story of the resurrection and talk about the impact this event has on our lives every day of the year.

You might notice how shops tend to put all of their Easter decorations on sale after Easter.  How about buying a dozen of those plastic Easter eggs (the kind you open and put things inside)?  You can use them to review the story of the resurrection.  Of course you don’t have to use plastic eggs at all if they are not available.  You can just show the items to the children one after the other.  The eggs are just easy to use and store away.

Here’s what you do:
(click here for printable instructions)

  1. Collect 12 plastic eggs and a used egg carton to store them in.
  2. Use a permanent marker to number the eggs from one to twelve.
  3. Collect representative items (listed below) and put them inside the eggs.  Place the eggs inside the egg carton.
  4. Introduce the story by asking the children how they would feel if they went on an Easter egg hunt and every egg they found was empty.  Lead into the lesson by saying sometimes it is GOOD if an egg is empty.  Sometimes an empty egg is the best egg of all.
  5. Open the egg carton and begin the lesson by opening egg number one.
  6. As you open the eggs one at a time you re-tell the story to the children.  You might let them guess what each of the items might represent.
  7. After you tell the story distribute the eggs to the children and let them take turns re-telling the story.
  8. If you are able and have fewer children then you might help the children make one of these sets each to take home.

Here’s a list of items for inside the eggs:

This idea is not new with me.  I’ve listed some sites below that explain some other variations.