The Gospels -- Parents' Guide Overview and Schedule



            Each year we send home a parents’ guide to help you continue your children’s Christian education at home and to reinforce what is being taught in Church School. This gives each family with children some ideas for exciting activities for you and your children to enjoy together; it is not meant to be comprehensive or exclusive. Use your creativity! If you know the topic of the week, you can also think up some wonderful ways to “bring it home” from Church. This can start as simply as reviewing the lesson of the week (Can the children tell you the story?) in the car on the way home from Church, at bedtime, and continuing through the week in your daily devotions and prayers. This year we focus on the Life of Jesus and each child, from the smallest to the teens, will have a Bible storybook or Bible itself to read in Church School and at home.


             It is very important even for the very young child to have daily prayers (Do you have a family icon corner? What about setting up one in his room?) and Bible (or Bible story) reading, maybe right after dinner or at bedtime. Do you say grace after each meal? Each day they can practice crossing themselves, lighting candles, burning incense, etc. And on Saturday night, in preparation for Liturgy the next day, what about a time of private confession to the Lord? You could even “pray the hours” on days when you are home: 7 AM (First Hour) thanking God for His light, 9 AM (3rd Hour) thanking Him for His Holy Spirit, 12 Noon (6th Hour) thanking Him for His crucifixion, and 3 PM (9th Hour) praying with the wise thief, “Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom.” Very little time spent, but a habit begun. Don’t forget a Jesse Tree and Advent wreath to bring Nativity closer to home. And, just before Lent, each child should bring home a piggy bank (for the Prodigal Son, of course). He should collect or earn small coins and bring them back to the class piggy at the end of Lent for donation to IOCC.


            There will be some memory work for the year. Look on your schedule for the dates, beginning with St. Simeon’s Prayer, spoken or sung, then the Troparion of Theophany, the names of the 12 disciples (smallest class need only learn the 4 fishermen), the Beatitudes (the smallest children only need to know the “poor in spirit”), the Lord’s Prayer, and the Paschal greeting in 3 languages other than English. These will be recited when ready during opening exercises and prizes given.  This would be great memory work to do in the car on the way to Liturgy!


            Now, on to suggestions for particular weeks. This year, crosswords and puzzles for older students are included with the materials, and, of course, the youngest students can color on anything in sight! There should be enough coloring pages to make quite an art gallery of the life of Jesus – framed with construction paper on your child’s wall? Or with magnetic frames each week on the refrigerator, to review regularly? There is also a map of the Holy Land for older children to plot the journeys of Jesus.


            Don’t forget our parties and movie nights. These also form part of the learning experience. They are included in the calendar. Movie nights will begin right after vespers on Saturday with dinner for the whole family, followed by a short animated video for the smaller children. The feature film for the older children will happen only once – on “Marathon Movie Night” in March, when we’ll see the entire “Jesus of Nazareth” complete with popcorn, etc.  Details on the parties will be in the newsletter.





Revise it to fit your own dates, trying to match Pascha with Pascha and the lessons for the Sundays preparatory to Lent on the correct week, and the rest arranged around them.



   DATE                  SUBJECT                                                 SPECIAL NOTES                                                      


Sept. 12           Nativity of Theotokos             

                        Presentation Theotokos

Sept. 18           Movie Night: Jesus

Sept. 19           Annunciation                   


Sept. 26           Birth of John the Baptist


Oct. 3               Nativity of Our Lord   


Oct. 10             Meeting of Our Lord                Memory Work: St. Simeon’s Prayer


Oct. 17             The Three Kings         


Oct. 23             Movie Night: Nativity

Oct. 24             Flight to Egypt            


Oct. 31             Nazareth & Temple                 Operation Christmas Child due

Oct. 31             All Saints Party                       After Church School in Social Hall


Nov. 7             Theophany                              Memory Work: Troparion for Theophany

                                                                        Jar Decorating in hall after Church School


Nov. 14            Temptations                


Nov. 20           Movie Night: Disciples             Jewish Dancing

Nov. 21           Wedding at Cana                    


Nov. 28           Calling of Fisherman               Memory Work: 12 disciples


Dec. 4              St. Nicholas Festival                10 AM- 1 PM Churchwide

Dec. 5              Calling of Matthew     


Dec. 12           Woman at Well                                    Rehearsal during opening exercises


Dec. 19            Performance of Christmas Pageant in Social Hall and at Nursing Home         


Dec. 26           Sermon on Mount                    Memory Work: Beatitudes


Jan. 2               Walking on Water/Calming of Storm


Jan. 9               Feeding of 5000/                     Bring Canned Goods

                        Three Kings Party after Coffee Hour and Sunday School


Jan. 15             Movie Night: Miracles

Jan. 16             Transfiguration                                   


Jan. 23             The Good Samaritan                Pack health kits after class


Jan. 30             The Parable of the Sower


Feb. 6              Zaccheus        


Feb. 13            Publican/Pharisee        


Feb. 20             Prodigal Son   


Feb. 27           Last Judgment                          Homeless Bags packed in hall after class


March 5           Movie Night

March 6           Forgiveness/Paralytic               Antiochian Art Contest in Social Hall after class


March 13         Miracles/Healings                   


March 20         Lazarus                                   


March 27         Palm Sunday               


April 2             Movie Night : Passion and Pascha

April 3             Last Supper                 


April 10           Crucifixion


April 17           Pascha                                     Memory Work: Christ is Risen! In 3 languages


April  24          NO CHURCH SCHOOL – PASCHA

April  25          Easter Egg Hunt


April 30           Rehearsal for Passion Play/Musical

May 1              Passion Play/Musical for parish and public


May 8              Doubting Thomas                    Piggy Banks Due


May 13-15       Camping trip for ages 6-12 at Camp Running Bear in Monkton


May 22             Myrrh-bearing women            


May 29            Road to Emmaeus       


June 5              Ascension                               


June 12            Pentecost                    


June 19             The Lord’s Prayer                    Memory Work: Lord’s Prayer

                        Closing Exercises





One way to tweak the interest of the students is, on most Sundays when opening exercises is the chance to tell a story about the life of Jesus, to open with a brown paper bag. Each week a different student gets to open the bag. Tell the story then with what’s “in the bag” – either an object or a picture or icon of the desired story! On weeks when memory work is done, reward each student with a sticker on a chart PLUS a prize from the Treasure Box. Try to begin a long paper timeline and also to have maps of the world and the Holy Land handy.


   DATE                  OPENING EXERCISES                             IN THE BAG                                     


Sept. 12            Opening prayers/Bibles/classrooms

                                    Use this week to orient the students, give new students their Bibles, introduce teachers.

September 19          Maccabees to Augustus                            Candle

                Last spring, we were studying the Old Testament, the story of the Jewish people. Review here your timeline from last year of Jewish history very, very briefly. Do you remember the story of Hanukkah? How, after the death of Alexander the Great, the land of Israel was ruled by Antiochus, who desecrated the holy temple, until brave Judah Maccabee and his brothers led the Jewish people and took back their land. How much oil did they find for the great Menorah? (very little) How long did it burn? (8 days). To this day, the Jewish people celebrate the festival of Hanukkah in honor of this miracle. For almost 100 years the Jewish people were ruled by Kings of the Hasmonean family, the family of the Maccabees. But, many years after that, the Jewish nation was again conquered, this time by the great Roman Empire. The capital of the Roman Empire is Rome itself. Can you find Rome on the map? Under its famous generals, Rome had conquered most of the western world. Then, Julius Caesar was named Emperor. Not long after the death of Julius Caesar, Octavius became Emperor and took the name of Augustus. So, as we begin our story this year, Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire.


Sept. 26            Elijah                                                               black feather

            Do you remember the story of Elijah from last year? Elijah was one of the greatest of the prophets of the Lord. What is a prophet? Elijah was not afraid to speak the word of God, even to the wicked King Ahab and his even more wicked wife, Jezebel. There are many stories of Elijah in the Old Testament. Review some of these with the students: Do you remember how Elijah was fed by the ravens in the wilderness? Another time, Elijah had prayed and there was no rain. He went to stay with the widow of Zarephath, whose flour and oil never went empty as long as Elijah stayed with her. He even raised her son from the dead. But, the most famous incident from the life of Elijah is his contest with the prophets of Baal, a false idol worshipped by many of the Jewish people. Elijah put his offering out and doused it with water; the prophets put out theirs. First the Baal worshippers prayed and danced – nothing happened. Then Elijah prayed, and fire came down from heaven and consumed both his offering and all the worshippers of Baal, too! Finally, Elijah is remembered as one who never died – he was taken up into heaven in a fiery chariot! When John the Baptist appeared, many people thought he was the prophet Elijah coming back.


Oct. 3               Draw the icon of the Nativity on the board

            Students always have fun with this – each can add a figure. Don’t have a blackboard? Use poster board!


Oct. 10             Memory Work: St. Simeon’s Prayer                  fake white beard          

            Use whatever melody is commonly used in your parish and sing it several times. The children can either say or sing it for a prize sometime in the next couple of weeks. Review the Septuagint, of which Simeon was one of the writers. After the death of Alexander the Great, his Greek general Ptolemy became ruler of Egypt. About 250 years before the birth of Jesus, his son, Ptolemy II, wanted a Greek version of the Jewish Bible, now known as the Old Testament. At that time, most educated people were using Greek and few knew Hebrew. He had 72 scholars brought to Egypt, 12 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, put each in a separate room, and had them translate. All of the translations were identical! While Simeon was working, he was writing the book of Isaiah and was deciding to write “a woman shall conceive” instead of “a virgin shall conceive” when an angel appeared to him and told him that he would himself live until he held that baby, Son of a virgin, in his arms. Tradition says that Simeon lived for over 300 years. The Septuagint was the Bible most used by the apostles and quoted by Jesus Himself. It is the translation used for the Orthodox Study Bible. Its name is from the Latin word for 70 and it is often abbreviated LXX, the Latin numbers for 70.


Oct. 17             King Herod and his sons                                   tiny crown

            Who is this King Herod who appears in the Gospels? His father, Antipater, was a Jew from Idumea (Edom) who was a friend of Julius Caesar and was named governor of Syria and Palestine. Do you remember who the Edomites were? (descendants of Esau, not Jacob) His son, Herod, was named king by Augustus – king under Roman rule. He ruled for 33 years and became known as Herod the Great, although he was far from Great in his service to God. In his service to Rome, Herod conquered territories to his east and added them to the Roman empire. Since his family was not a family of kings, Herod tried to make the Jewish people accept his rule by taking a wife of the Hasmonean family, the family of the Maccabees, Mariamne. Trying to make himself popular at home, Herod rebuilt Samaria and the temple in Jerusalem, but his cruelty and suspicious nature made him unpopular. He even killed his three oldest sons and Mariamne because he suspected they might be plotting against him. Finally, at his death, his kingdom was divided forever – Archelaus in Judea, Herod Antipas (the tetrarch) in Galilee, Philip the northeastern territories.



Oct. 24             Holy Innocents/ parallel with Moses                 tiny plastic doll or baby bottle

            You do remember that King Herod was a suspicious and evil man, right? Well…this is the most awful thing of all. Herod had known from the magi that a new king had been born in Bethlehem, and the magi, being warned by God, slipped out of Herod’s lands without giving him any more information. What did Herod do? He decided to send his soldiers to kill every baby boy under 2 years old, since the star had appeared two years before. This event was prophesied in the Old Testament, “Rachel weeping for her children…for they were no more.” Do you remember another story in the Old Testament where a ruler killed all the baby boys for fear of losing his throne? Recount briefly the story of Pharaoh’s edict and the baby Moses in the basket on the Nile. Baby Moses was saved; will baby Jesus also be saved?


Oct. 31             Bar Mitzvah today                                            yarmulke

            Invite a Jewish man to come and share the story of his bar mitzvah. This is the ceremony at age 13 when a Jewish boy becomes a man. We will study today the events just before Jesus’s own bar mitzvah.


Nov. 7              Memory Work: Troparion for Theophany          small jar

            Use whatever melody is commonly used in your parish and sing it several times. The children can either say it or sing it for a prize sometime in the next couple of weeks.


Nov. 14             Beheading of John                                            birthday candle

            This is a very sad story. You remember John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin and the one who baptized Jesus. And you remember the story of Herod the Great dividing his empire among his three sons, Archelaeus, Herod Antipas, and Philip? Well…the sons of Herod were no wiser or less cruel than their father. Philip married a beautiful but wicked woman named Herodias. But, Herod Antipas fell in love with Herodias and stole her from Philip, his brother! John the Baptist, never a man to tell anything but the truth, told Herod Antipas that he had broken the law of God and would be punished for stealing his brother’s wife. So, Herod Antipas threw John in prison. But, the story does not end here. Herodias, the wicked wife, hated John because of what John had said about her marriage to Herod Antipas. She was determined to have John killed. But Herod Antipas was still a bit afraid of what God might do if he killed someone known to be a prophet. So, Herodias hatched a plan. On Herod’s birthday, when they were hosting a big party, Herodias had her lovely daughter, Salome, dance for Herod. Herod was so enchanted by the beautiful young girl that he promised her anything she asked for as a gift. Herodias told Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist – so she did, the head, on a platter! Now, Herod was a proud man and didn’t want to disappoint all his friends, so he ordered John killed. And, to this day, we celebrate the beheading of John the Baptist as a solemn feast.


Nov. 21            Jesus’s reception in Nazareth                            pocket Bible

            Jesus ministry was getting off to a good start, right? Well…maybe except in Nazareth. Remember that Jesus was raised in Nazareth. Find Nazareth on your map. After His baptism, Jesus traveled all over teaching in the synagogues. So, when he came to Nazareth, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath and, when the time came, stood up to read the prophet Isaiah. Read Luke 4:18-19 now. Then Jesus said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” What a commotion! All the people knew this prophecy was about the Messiah. They also knew that Jesus was the son of Joseph the carpenter, not a king or a Messiah, certainly Maybe he could prove it? They asked Jesus to heal someone like He’d done in Capernaum. What did Jesus remind them of? Elijah and the widow of Zarephath, from the land of the Phoenicians, not a widow of Israel. The people were  so angry, they pushed Jesus out of the city and right up to the edge of a cliff, ready to throw him over the edge…when Jesus walked thru the crowd and left the town.


Nov. 28             Memory Work: 12 disciples/Concentration        Set up a game of Concentration, with two of

the name of each of the 12 disciples. If you have a bulletin or blackboard, you can write the names on post-its and put them up randomly. Then stick post-its with the numbers over them.


Dec. 5              Nicodemus                                                       tiny baby doll

            Nicodemus was a wise man of Israel, one of the council of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He was a Pharisee. But, unlike his fellow-Pharisees, Nicodemus liked what he heard about Jesus and wanted to find out more about Jesus and the kingdom of God He was preaching all over the land. Nicodemus didn’t want to be seen with Jesus, so he sneaked in at night to talk to Jesus. Jesus says some very strange things to Nicodemus in the gospel of John – “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus is confused – how can someone go back inside his mother’s stomach and be born again? Jesus explains that we must be born of water and of the spirit. Of water? What is that? Baptism, just as Jesus was baptized, we must be baptized. Of the Spirit?  In our Chrismation. Nicodemus is still confused. But, it is to Nicodemus that Jesus says these words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

            Later in the gospels, Nicodemus is not so frightened – he stands up for Jesus and defends him before the rest of the Sanhedrin at Jesus’s trial. And, after the death of the Lord, Nicodemus went with Joseph of Arimathea to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus and bought spices to anoint His body.


Dec. 12            Rehearsal of Nativity Pageant

Dec. 19 Performance of Christmas Pageant in Social Hall and at  a nursing home


Dec. 26             Memory Work: Beatitudes        Sing them a few times together!

            Using your parish’s favorite melody, sing the Beatitudes a few times. Over the next couple of weeks, the children can say or sing them for a prize. The smallest class can do just the first Beatitude.


Jan. 2               The Seventy                                                     some dry dust or icon

             Jesus chose twelve disciples, the ones closest to him and with him all the time. Can you name them still? But, He had many, many followers. Later in His ministry, Jesus chose a group of 70 men and sent them, too, out to preach. Jesus told them to travel without any money or even a backpack – to go to city and preach the kingdom of God. But, if the city does not receive their preaching, to wipe the dust of that city off their feet! The seventy are remembered by the church on January 4. Who were the 70? We don’t have time today to tell all their stories, but many are remembered as prominent in the early Church. One was known as Barnabas, whose name means Son of Consolation. He was a Jew from the island of Cyprus, who studied with Saul in Jerusalem and was the first one to bring the new Christian, Paul, to the other apostles and Paul’s companion on his first missionary journey. Titus also traveled from Crete when he heard about the preaching of this Jesus of Nazareth, and joined those who followed the Lord. Titus later was baptized by St. Paul and was his co-worker and buried the body of St. Paul in Rome before returning to Crete as its bishop. Aristarchus, Sosthenes, Aristobulus, and Tychicus all went on to preach the gospel around the world, several becoming bishops. And, Simeon, son of Cleopas, the brother of St. Joseph, became bishop in Jerusalem after the death of James, the son of Joseph.


Jan. 9               Jesus and the Children                                      plastic child doll or several

            Jesus was a very busy man, right? Preaching, performing miracles, praying, traveling. Is it any wonder that, when some children were brought to Him to be blessed, the disciples were ready to send them away, to not bother the master with such little things. But, Jesus took the children and blessed them, saying, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” Jesus loved children. Can we sing together the old song, “Jesus Loves Me”?  How about “Jesus Loves the Little Children””?

            Jesus loves me, this I know,                              Jesus loves the little children,

            For the Bible tells me so,                                   All the little children of the world.

            Little ones to Him belong,                                 Red and yellow, black and white,

            They are weak but He is strong.                         They are precious in His sight.

            Yes, Jesus loves me (3x)                                   Jesus loves the little children of the world.

            The Bible tells me so.


Jan. 16             Peter and the Keys to the Kingdom                    keys

            One day, Jesus was talking with His disciples. He asked them, “Who do men say that I…am?”Different disciples answered with things they’d heard – maybe John the Baptist come back to life, or Elijah or Jeremiah the prophets. Then Jesus asked the most important question ever asked, then or now: “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Until this time, he was known as Simon bar Jonah (son of Jonah). But, Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Then Jesus gave Simon a new name, Peter, from the word for rock in both Greek and Aramaic. He told Peter that on this rock He would build His church, and also that He would give Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven – opening up all God’s kingdom to His church.  It is with this Scripture verse that the early church named the bishop of Rome, descended by laying on of hands from St. Peter, the first bishop of Rome, as the first among equals of all the patriarchs. To this day, the Roman Catholic church, with the bishop of Rome at its head, calls its bishop Pope and believes he holds still the keys to the kingdom of heaven.


Jan. 23             Parable of Workers in Vineyard                                     grapes or coin

            Every year at Pascha, we hear in the sermon of St. John Chrysostom this parable:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.  Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’  So they went.  Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise.  And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’  He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’  So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’  And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.  But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.  And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’  But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?  Or is your eye evil because I am good?’  So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few chosen.” Ask the children: Was the landowner fair? Why or why not? Why did the first workers complain? Should they have complained? Would you have complained? What do we find to complain about – at school, at play. Is complaining something the Lord is pleased with?


Jan. 30             Parable of Talents                                                         several nickels and dimes

            A talent was a coin in the days of Jesus. So, here’s another parable, this time about a businessman:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.’  Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Ask the children: What money do we have from our Lord? What use do we make of it? What other talents have each of us been given? What are we doing with them? Why were some given more talents than others? Was this fair? Why or why not?


Feb. 6               The Good Shepherd                                          tiny sheep

            Jesus told many good parables, or stories with a meaning. In one, He called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know much about sheep and shepherds? King David in the Old Testament was a shepherd, as were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember their stories? What are the duties of a shepherd? The shepherd has to care for the sheep, find for them food and water, and protect them from wild animals. Jesus, our shepherd, was willing to even die for His sheep. He protected His sheep and gave them life. He even fed His sheep with 5 loaves and 2 fishes in the wilderness. Jesus told of a hired shepherd, one who doesn’t really care about the sheep, who runs away when the wolf comes and leaves the sheep to be eaten. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, knows each of us by name and was willing to lay down His life for His sheep, us.


Feb. 13             Rich Young Ruler/ Treasure on Earth                            gold coin or plastic camel

            One day, a rich young man came to Jesus. Many people think that when someone is rich, that is a sign that they are even closer to God than other people. This young man asked Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” How would you answer that question if a friend asked you how to get into heaven? Well, Jesus answered, “You know the commandments…” and recited from the 10 Commandments. Do you still remember them from last year? The rich young man was actually able to say, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”  How many of us can say that truly? Can you? So, what did Jesus answer? That he would get to heaven for sure? Jesus could look into his heart, as He can look into each of our hearts, and knew that there was one thing this young man loved too much – something that was keeping him from loving only God. What was it? His money!  So, Jesus said, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Did the rich young man leave all and follow Jesus? The Bible said, no…he was very rich and sadly, sadly walked away from Jesus.  This made Jesus very sad also and He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Do you have anything that is your camel, holding you back from following Jesus? Throw away those camels!


Feb. 20 The Speck and the Log/ Seek Ye First…                        piece of wood or eyeglasses or cookie

            How quick we are to judge each other! Have you judged anyone already today? I’ll bet you have…the choir was flat, the priest took too long in Liturgy, that boy or girl took too long on the swingset, that other person took the biggest piece of cake or the biggest cookie – the list goes on and one. Can you name some judgments we make – rightly or wrongly – about other people every day? What about today? Jesus tells us not to judge – in fact, not to even be looking at each other! He gives us an example: how can I expect to see clearly the speck in your eye if I have a log in my own. Have you ever had a speck in your eye? Can you even imagine having a log in your eye? The eye is watering and burning; can you see very well? Jesus tells us to first look in our own eye, remove the log that is there, and then, and only then, can we see the speck in someone else’s eye. What can this mean? If I’m busy taking the biggest cookie myself, or pushing to the front of the line, or taking the longest turn on the swing myself, do I really have any right to complain when I see the mistakes others make? So, Jesus ends with, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Can we, even for only one day, look only to God and ourselves and not once, even once, look at others with criticism? If we really do keep our eyes on God, we won’t even notice who gets the big cookie!


Feb. 27             The Widow’s Mite                                                        2 pennies

            Jesus was standing at the offering box in the temple. He watched as people came by. He saw many rich people giving lots of gold coins. Then He saw a widow give 2 mites, tiny coins. Who gave the most? Jesus told His disciples that it was the widow, because, although she was poor, she gave everything she owned. The rich had given out of the wealth, but had also kept plenty for themselves. How much do we give the Lord? How much do we hold back? Do you get an allowance? How much do you give to God? Why not all of it? Was it hard for the widow to give everything she had? Would it be hard for you?


March 6                       Fasting                                                                         piece of bread

            We are about to start into Lent. Lent is a time of prayer and fasting in the church. Did Jesus fast? Remember his 40 days in the Wilderness? We are remembering that time each year in Lent. Jesus had nothing at all to eat or drink for the whole 40 days. Where did the number 40 come from? Do you remember how the children of Israel in the days of Moses were disobedient to God and had to spend 40 years in the wilderness? How did God feed them when they were hungry? (with manna) Jesus fasted for 40 days but He was not disobedient when He was tempted by Satan. So, by fasting, we learn to control our appetite and how not to give in to every temptation. What are your own fasting practices? Do you have a plan for Lent in your family? Do you work hard on your fasting, or hardly work at it? What happens when you are tempted, at school or Scouts or the playground?


March 13                     The Blind Man                                                             blindfold or mud

            Jesus healed many, many blind people, but only one is said to have been blind from birth. This man was healed right in the temple in Jerusalem! Jesus was teaching in the temple and saw a man who had been born blind. Jesus told His followers that He is the light of the world! And then, Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud and put the mud on the blind man’s eyes. He told the blind man to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam, outside the temple. When he did, the blind man came back able to see! Who was healed in the Old Testament by going to be washed in the Jordan? (Naaman, by the prophet Elisha) What would have happened if the man didn’t obey and go and wash in the pool, as Jesus commanded? (What happened at first when Naaman refused to wash in the Jordan?) Mud and pools – strange way to heal, isn’t it? What do you think people who were watching thought when Jesus spit on the ground?

            Now the man could see. His neighbors and friends couldn’t believe it was the same man! And, the man didn’t even know Jesus’s name. The Pharisees were upset because Jesus had healed yet again on the Sabbath. They called the man before them and told him Jesus was not from God. But, the man gave an honest answer, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Even when badgered by the Pharisees, he could still tell them what little he knew, and wouldn’t change his story even when threatened. Have you ever perhaps changed your story about something to get out of trouble? The Pharisees even called his parents and tried to get them to speak to their son. Finally, the Pharisees threw him out of the temple! Jesus found the man and told him who He was. The man fell at His feet and worshipped Jesus.


March 20                     Cleansing of the Temple                                               small scale (like for stamps)

            Did you maybe think that Jesus just sat and talked about white, woolly sheep and loving everyone and blessed babies? Well, listen to today’s story! After Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He went up to the temple. The temple had been built by whom? (Solomon) Rebuilt by whom? (Nehemiah and Ezra) Rebuilt yet again in Maccabees, and yet again by whom? (Herod the Great). What was the purpose of the temple? Why do we go to church? To show off our new clothes, see our friends, have a nice breakfast??? No, to worship God! Jesus knew that this was the true purpose of the temple. When he came into the temple, what did He find? Money changers, and sellers of lambs and doves – all cheating the people who had come to worship! Jesus is God! This was His temple! He shouted, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And then Jesus turned over all the tables of the money changers and drove out all the sellers. Do think this made the sellers happy?


March 27                     Render Unto Caesar                                                      quarter

            “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” You’ll hear that saying over and over in your life. It comes from a trap Jesus’s enemies laid for him while He was teaching in the temple. The Jewish people had never liked being ruled by the Romans. Caesar was the name of Julius Caesar, and the title of the emperor’s after him. The Roman emperors put their own face on the coins made during their reign. They also insisted that the Jewish people pay taxes to Rome, something that was very unpopular. Who were some tax collectors we’ve met this year? Matthew and Zaccheus Were they popular men before they met Jesus? Well, Jesus enemies asked him a question to try to get the people to hate Jesus. They asked Him whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar. If He said, yes, the Jewish people would start to hate Jesus. If He said no, He could be arrested by the Romans. So, Jesus outsmarted them all! He asked them for a coin. Then He asked them, whose face was on the coin. They answered, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus had them! He told them to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.


April 3             Rehearsal

            Use the next 3 weeks to rehearse your Passion Play. These can be quick walk-throughs of a couple of scenes each week.


April 10           Rehearsal


April 17           Memory Work: Christ is Risen! In 3 languages             

Holler the first line and have the children holler their responses!


            Before your brief rehearsal, work on your memory lines. The children can say them for a prize over the next few weeks.


April  24          NO CHURCH SCHOOL – PASCHA


May 1              Passion Play for parish and nursing home


May 8              Piggy Banks Due/ St. Longinos                                     small sword

               Longinus was the centurion of whom Matthew says, in his gospel, “Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that were done, they feared greatly, saying: ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’” Longinus and two of his soldiers came to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He was the officer in command both at Christ’s crucifixion on Golgotha and also guarding the tomb of the Lord. When Jesus rose from the dead, the Jewish leaders bribed the soldiers to say that His disciples had stolen His body, but they were unable to bribe Longinus. Because of this, they conspired to kill Longinus! When Longinus found out about the plot to kill him, he removed his army belt and was baptized by the apostles, along with his two soldier friends. The three left Jerusalem secretly and traveled to Cappadocia. There Longinus lived a life of prayer and fasting and led many pagan souls to the Lord with his witness.

     Later Longinus traveled to a town where his father owned property, but the Jews discovered him there and, with their lies, convinced Pilate to send soldiers to behead Longinus. Longinus knew beforehand through the Holy Spirit that the soldiers were coming and went to meet them. He offered them hospitality in his home without revealing his identity. While they were asleep, Longinus and his two friends prepared for death. He dressed himself in white grave-clothes and told everyone in the house what was to happen. He instructed them where to bury his body on the hill beside the village. When the soldiers woke up, Longinus told them who he was. The soldiers were ashamed and did not want to kill Longinus, but Longinus insisted that they obey their orders. The soldiers beheaded Longinus and his two friends and his head was taken to Pilate. Pilate gave the head to the Jews, who threw it into the garbage heap outside Jerusalem.


May 13-15       Camping trip for ages 6-12 at Camp Alkor in Monkton


May 22             Mary Magdalene                                                          small bottle of perfume

            Mary Magdalene was at the cross of Jesus, and also was the first person to see Him alive after the Resurrection as one of the myrrh bearing women. Who was she? We first meet Mary Magdalene in the gospel of Luke, where it is said she had had seven demons cast out of her – she had been given over to the devil. She was probably from the town of Magdala in Galilee and therefore was called a Magdalene. Jesus cast out the demons, and Mary became a devoted follower, traveling with Jesus and His disciples, along with several other women. What did these women do? The Bible only says that they provided for Him. Maybe they bought and prepared food, washed clothing, set up camp.

            Mary Magdalene next appears at the Cross of the Lord, weeping with the other women. While most of His disciples were afraid, Mary and the other women were right there! When they buried His body, it was sunset on the Sabbath, and they were not allowed by Jewish law to buy and sell on the Sabbath. So, it was Sunday morning when they were able to buy spices to anoint His body. Mary’s special role we’ll hear about in class.


May 29             Appearance to the Fishermen                                        fish

            Jesus made many appearances to His followers between His Resurrection and Ascension. One was at the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberius. Several of the disciples were together and, as you know, many of them were fishermen. Peter decided to go fishing, and the others went along. All night they fished and caught nothing. Then, they saw a man on the shore, who told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. They did, and caught so many they couldn’t even haul the net in! John then realized it was Jesus, and Peter jumped into the sea and swam to shore. The others dragged the net to shore with the boat and Peter helped them pull it onto the shore. Jesus was sitting at a fire, and they cooked some of the fish they’d caught. Jesus gave them the bread and fish.

            After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loved Him, and Peter answered that he did, indeed, love the Lord. Three times, Jesus asked Peter, and three times, Peter answered that he did. Did something happen three times the night Jesus was arrested? (Peter denied the Lord). Each time, Jesus told Peter to feed and tend His sheep. Remember that Jesus called Himself the good shepherd? Peter must now take that job, and to this day, all priests and bishops are called shepherds, caring for us, God’s sheep.


June 5              St. Matthias                                                                  dice

            How many disciples did Jesus have? (12) Who left them by betraying Jesus? (Judas) Now there were only eleven after the death of Judas. How would you have chosen a twelfth to fill the place of Judas? The apostles chose two men who’d been with Jesus and them from the start, both of the 70 – Justus and Matthias. Then, they cast lots! What is the casting of lots? It’s almost like throwing dice, but with a yes or no answer. Do you remember any other Bible passages where lots were cast? What about the selection of Jonah to be thrown out of the boat when he disobeyed God? The discovery of the day to kill all the Jews by Haman in the days of Queen Esther? In our day, we’d likely have taken a vote! But, while the apostles chose the men, God made the final decision through the use of lots!


June 12            Parable of Wedding Feast/”I Cannot Come”                   wedding ring

            Jesus told many stories with morals, called parables. Let’s read this one together:

“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it.  I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’  And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant,  ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’” If you know the folk song, “I Cannot Come,” sing it now. Ask the children: What’s an excuse? Did the people in the story have good excuses? What does the Lord think of excuses? What excuses do we use to not obey God? To not attend church? To not take communion?



June 17            Memory Work: Lord’s Prayer                                       Sing it together a few times!

                        Closing Exercises, Party and Cookout