Moultonboro UMC

Children’s Programs

Palm Sunday
Lesson #37: Standing Tall
 
Background for parents/guardians:
 
“In the last lesson about living courageously, the emphasis was on discovering the courage that exists within our divine nature. The Easter story of Jesus shows how courage in the face of ignorance and fear is ultimately an expression of true selfless love. His appearance in Jerusalem despite the threats against him was not a grand gesture to show how brave he was but a selfless act of friendship and love. His life was an expression of love for all people, and he lived each day as a messenger of that light. Considering his personal safety would have een an ego affirmation, which he strongly rejected when Peter expressed fear for his teacher’s life.
 
The idea of walking into certain death is something young children are not ready to comprehend. But everything Jesus did is an example for us to aspire to. We practice by taking little steps to expand our awareness and our capacity to love. We can teach our children that any act of selflessness is an act of courage. As we practice in small ways, we become more aware of our true nature and we strengthen our capacity to take on bigger and bigger challenges with the selfless love and courage that is a reflection of our true self.”  page 190
 
Lesson
 
1. Read the story Anna and the Donkey
 
Anna lived in a small village outside the big city of Jerusalem. Anna’s father made strong and beautiful pots to sell, and her mother wove colorful blankets and shawls. Sometimes they went into Jerusalem to sell their work, but usually they set up shop by the road that led into the city. There were always people traveling on the road, and business was good.
 
Anna loved to sit out by the road and imagine where all the travelers came from. She had only been in the city once and never further from her village than the river. Seeing people from exotic places stirred up Anna’s imagination and made life exciting. 
 
Lately, she had been too busy caring  for the new baby donkey to get ot to the road. Her parents and big brothers didn’t have time to brush it every day or talk softly into its big ears when it got a bit nervous. Anna was the only one who knew about the spot on its nose that needed a delicate scratch sometimes. It was bigger now, and Anna was proud to say it was healthy and gentle due to her loving care. 
 
She had been looking forward to seeing the travelers who came to the city for Passover, but then her brother injured his leg falling from their wagon. Now she had to do his chores too, and there was no time for daydreams about faraway places. Anna angrily swept the stable and thought about how unfair things were.
 
The colt and its mother were tied outside the stable while Anna finished cleaning the stall. She was back in the shadows when she saw strangers approach and talk with her father. To her dismay, they untied the donkey and walked away – the colt stayed next to its mother and followed them out to the road.
 
Anna quickly ran and asked her father, “Father! Why are those men taking our donkeys?”
 
“The teacher has need of them, Anna, it will be all right,” her father explained gently. That was all he would say.
 
Anna didn’t understand, and she ran after the men with tears of outrage stinging her eyes. Her brother’s chores and now this! She could just barely keep the colt in sight as they joined the many people and carts on the busy road.
 
The men eventually joined others and offered the donkey to the one who was their teacher. Anna stayed out of sight but watched what happened next. After the donkey was draped with robes, the teacher rode the donkey toward the city gates while the others walked beside. The colt stayed close to its mother all the way.
 
 
The teacher seemed gentle and kind to Anna, so she was even more confused about why he had taken her donkey. She overheard someone say, “Some people say he has been blessed by God.”
 
Then someone else said, “This man says anyone can know God, even gentiles and those who have made mistakes and done bad things. He also says that we do not have to go to the temple to know God. Can you believe that? I’ve heard that the priests are very angry with him.”
 
Anna was thinking about why the teacher would go into the city where the priests were angry with him when she noticed the crowds were getting larger and many people seemed to be shouting and singing. They were laying palm branches on the road and saying “Hosanna!” They seemed to be celebrating, but she wasn’t sure what or why. She felt her heart beat faster and she almost shouted too, but she didn’t want the men to know she was following the colt. 
 
She moved along with the crowds through the city gates and fought to stay near the colt. The teacher then stopped and got off the donkey. The people were still calling and waving ranches in the air. Anna was surprised to see the teacher look into the donkey’s eyes and say something only the beast could have heard. She was even more surprised to see him stroke the little donkey and tenderly scratch the special spot that only Anna knew about. He looked through the crowds in her direction before walking into the city with his friends.
 
Anna quickly ran to the donkey and grabbed the rope. The colt nuzzled her side, grateful to see and smell someone familiar. She was almost hoping the teacher would come back, but she turned the donkeys around and started the long walk home before he could return for the animals. 
 
She got home late in the evening, exhausted and hungry. Anna put the donkeys in their stalls and was going to her comfortable bed when the teacher’s face came into her mind. Somehow she knew he wouldn’t head for bed when there was work to do. So Anna made sure her brother’s chores were all done, and she drew water from the well for her mother. Her heart was happy when she went inside.
 
Questions:
● Why do you think Jesus went into the city, even though the priests were angry?
● Why do you think Anna was angry about doing her brother’s chores? What changed?
● Have you ever taken care of a young animal?
● What do you think happened after the story ended?
 
2. Hosanna poster
“Explain to child that the word Hosanna probably came from different words in the Hebrew and Greek language. The Hebrew phrase is found in one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25 where it means “Save, please!” It is a cry to God for help. “Hoshiya na” stopped being a cry for help in the ordinary language of the Jews. Instead, it became a shout of hope and exultation. Later, it was used by people when Jesus came into Jerusalem. It meant they were happy and praising God and excited because they believed that Jesus would free them from their troubles. It was very difficult for the Jewish people to live and practice their faith during that time because of the Romans who were in control. Therefore, they were full of hope and joy to see Jesus come, even when the priests did not want him there.”   page 191
 
On a large piece of paper, write the word Hosanna in block letters. Have child decorate the poster. Hang in a prominent place in your house for the week. 
 
3. Closing prayers
Ask child who and what they would like to pray for this week. Add your own as well. If your child knows the Lord’s Prayer, pray this together. 

Sunday School

Sunday School is up and running at the 9:00 service.  We will take children from kindergarten to 6th grade. The name of the curriculum we are using is ‘A Joyful Path’. Here is a brief intro to the curriculum:

“The lesson topics are drawn from qualities that are important to develop in our own lives as well as to nurture in our children. The list is not definitive, but it includes many aspects of personal development that are vital if we want to open our hearts to a deeper relationship with spirit within ourselves and others.” From January through June we will be exploring:

  • Who or What is God?
  • Who was Jesus?
  • The Bible and how we use it
  • Learning from our mistakes
  • Connecting with kindness
  • Practicing humility
MUMC Sunday School is available for students from kindergarten through sixth grade. Two adults that have been trained in Safe Sanctuary for children will facilitate the lessons. Children will take home the lesson synopsis and New Testament bible verses to share with their families. Come join us for teachings from Jesus that can guide our lives.
 

For more information on A Joyful Path Curriculum visit the Progressive Christianity website.

 

Nursery Help Need:

Additional nursery volunteers continue to be needed for winter and spring Sundays. Anyone who has had Safe Sanctuary Training can volunteer.  If you are available or have any questions, please contact Betsy Merkle at merklebetsy@gmail.com.