21

April 2024

Apr

We Abide in Christ

How Shall We Live

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Our final week in the series, “How Shall We Live?” calls us to live out the love and joy we have found in our life in Christ.

In week 3, we celebrate Earth Day and encourage children to put the love they experience into action for the good of all. Concepts like recycling and reusing and composting may be familiar to children, or these concepts may be new. Use your knowledge of your context to decide how much explanation is necessary.

Before Worship:

  • Begin with a piece of cardboard. Cut the piece of cardboard into creative shapes that will fit together, like a puzzle, about the same number of pieces as children who will participate in the lesson. (Or purchase a blank cardboard puzzle like this one: https://www.amazon.com/INOVART-12-Piece-Blank-Puzzle-2-Inch/dp/B00H7PMCQ6?source=ps-sl-shoppingads-lpcontext&ref_=fplfs&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER.)
  • Have the puppet ready.
  • Bring a bag of recyclable and reusable items (e.g., paper plates, cereal boxes, cans, cloth napkins, hand towels).
  • Collect enough markers so each child can use one.
  • Consider having a copy of Mark 12:30-31 to read to the children.
  • Also have a copy of Mark 12:30-31 for each of the children to take with them, printed on heart-shaped paper.

Prompts for the puppet:

Leader/Puppet: Hi children. Do you remember my name this time?

Children: Star!

Leader/Puppet: Where do you live?

Children: In a house, apartment, on my street, in my town.

Leader/Puppet: Look where I live. (Have the puppet “retreat” into its home, pop down, then peek out.) Can you see my home?

Children: I see you! (Depending on the age of the children, play peek-a-boo.)

Leader/Puppet: What do you like about your home? What makes it special?

Children: My room, my family, my stuff/toys/yard/books, my neighbors, my neighborhood, the church or school in my neighborhood, my pets.

Leader/Puppet: Do you think you’ll ever have a home in another place?

Children: Answers will vary…. Some may have had the experience of moving.

Leader/Puppet: I love those things about my home too! I also think about my home as being more than just this little space where I can pop down. I think about my home as being on planet Earth. How do you treat your home?

Children: Answers may vary…. Some may say that they take their shoes off at the door, do chores, put away their toys in the right places, help with the yard, help with home repair, put out holiday decorations, feed/ clean up after/ walk the pets, and so on.

Leader/Puppet: Can we do the same kinds of things, no matter where we think of being home?

Children: Yes

Leader/Puppet: What if our home is the whole planet? Do you….. (name some of the things the kids said for their homes, like take off your shoes when you go in the door of the planet, or put out holiday decorations for the whole planet, etc.)

Children: No!

Leader/Puppet: How do we take care of our home, the planet?

Children: Recycle, keep things out of landfills: don’t use disposable items/do use reusable items (cloth napkins, metal silverware, etc.) Rather than plastic; choose other options like paper or bamboo or thermos. (Show items from the bag that can be recycled or reused.)

Leader/Puppet: Great ideas! I want to teach you a saying about how to live from our church’s history. It goes like this: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”.

There’s also a Bible verse: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12: 30-31). When we think about doing all the good we can and loving our neighbors throughout the whole planet, how can we live like that?

Children: Caring about other people, sharing our stuff, helping those in need, and so on.

Leader/Puppet: Great ideas! Today, I brought a copy of the Bible verse for each of you and a puzzle piece. Everyone, write your name on your puzzle piece. Let’s all put the puzzle together. (Give them time.) See how all our pieces make one big shape together, with all the colors we used. You can each take your puzzle piece with you today to remind you that you are part of this great big home that God created.

Repeat-After-Me Prayer:

God of Love,
God of Justice,
God of Wisdom,
Thank you for loving us so much
that you made us part of this great big planet,
with all our neighbors.
Teach us to do all the good we can,
by all the means we can,
in all the places we can,
at all the times we can,
to all the people we can,
as long as ever we can.
Amen.

Ideas to expand the theme:

  • Tour the churchyard and look for litter. If litter is not common in your churchyard, consider whether there is someone who could meet you in the yard with a sack of “trash” that you could help them sort. Discuss whether each item is reusable, recyclable, compostable, or if it is something that has to end up in a landfill. Consider whether children might be able to suggest alternative for any items that have to end up in a landfill.
  • Put some puzzles together, possibly puzzles depicting objects from the natural world, discussing how each piece is an important component and how the puzzle wouldn’t be whole without the pieces. Explain that our planet is like that. If one of us doesn’t do our part, then we aren’t whole; r if one species is missing from a habitat, the others have a harder time surviving.
  • Use recyclable materials to create a collage. Start with donated magazines and paper that has been printed on one side.

Share a snack together with reusable dishes and cups and cloth napkins rather than disposable items. Wash up together when the children have finished eating.

Carolyn Nichols, Maryland (ancestral lands of the Susquehannock and Piscataway peoples), is a layperson at Epworth Chapel UMC in the Baltimore-Washington Conference. She is active in the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.

Rev. Laura Baumgartner, Seattle, WA (ancestral homelands of the Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples), is an elder in the Pacific Northwest Conference, serving Haller Lake United Methodist Church. She is also involved in United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.