Denial: The Ultimate Indifference

Peter denies his Lord

Scripture reference: Mark 14:53-54, 66-72

Peter's denial of his Lord

“The Denial of St Peter” c. 1610 Oil on canvas, by Caravaggio

First I’d like you to help sing a song, and then I’m going to tell you about Peter and his light.

Who knows a song that starts with the words “This little light…”? Can you help me sing it?

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, (2x)
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

It was very dark and it was very late at night in the city of Jerusalem. But no-one was asleep at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest. They were waiting … waiting … There he came, our Jesus, tied up between two soldiers. That’s who they were waiting for – Jesus! “AT LAST,” said the rulers of the Pharisees. “Now we’ve got him! Now we can get rid of him!” And they rubbed their hands together, and they took Jesus upstairs. Then they spit on Jesus and blindfolded Jesus and hit him.

Where were Jesus’ disciples? Didn’t Peter say he would always, always stay with Jesus, no matter what? Maybe they all ran away when the soldiers tied up Jesus in the garden….

But, wait, there was Peter, hiding in the yard. Peter ran away , all right, but he came back because he loved Jesus. Peter followed the solders, all the way to the house of the high priest. Peter could see Jesus upstairs. But Peter was so afraid. He didn’t want anyone to know he was one of Jesus’ helpers! What if they caught him, too, and tied him up just like Jesus, and spit on him, and hit him? Peter was so scared that he hid his love for Jesus, and he kept his love for Jesus a secret. Peter hid his light three times in a row.

There was a fire burning in the yard, and the night was cold, so Peter went to warm his hands by the fire. A servant girl looked at Peter’s face and said,

“Weren’t you with that man Jesus?”

Peter’s heart pounded. He was terrified. “No, no, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the first time.

A little later, another servant girl said, “I’m sure this man is one of Jesus’ disciples.” Again Peter lied. “NO I don’t know him.” And Peter’s light flickered for the second time.

Once more, one of the men looked at Peter’s face and said, “You must be one of Jesus’ disciples. You talk just like one of them. And… didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” That’s when Peter’s face became pale and Peter began to curse and swear again:”I DON”T KNOW what you’re talking about.” And Peter’s light flickered for the third time that night.

Then Peter looked up. He saw Jesus looking at him very sadly, and Peter ran away into the darkness, crying, because he had lied about the Jesus he loved so much.

Listen to Denise Hewitt’s version of “This Little Light of Mine.”

If you’re partial to Odetta’s rendition…

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Sold for the Price of a Slave

Judas Betrays Jesus

Scripture reference: Zechariah 11:4-12 Luke 22:1-6

bananas

I need a helper today. [Choose a child and ask …. What’s your name?]

Now I need one more helper who doesn’t mind wearing this on their eyes. (Choose a second child and ask … What’s your name?]) Come and sit down here beside me. [Tie blindfold on the second child].

Today we’re going to talk about choosing. And I’ve brought some things along for ______ and _____ to use. Let me show them to you first.

With the first child:

[Hold up items: a banana: big, yellow  and another banana: black, mushy, and rotten]

Now: It’s your turn. Look carefully. Can you choose one that you’d like to share with your family?  [the child will generally choose the appropriate response]  That was a good choice!

[Hold up items again: an orange: big, heavy and another orange, somewhat wrinkled, small]

With the second child:

Now, It’s your turn. [Check to make sure the blindfold is still on, and don’t have the child touch the fruit]

Are you ready to choose one you’d like to share with your family? —– hmmm  —- wait —- this looks hard! How can you choose like this? Oh, oh,  what shall we do? [some child will respond – She/he can’t see!]. O.K. let’s take off the blindfold. Now you can make a good choice, can’t you!

Thank you for helping,  ___ and ___

Jesus had helpers, too. One of them was called Judas. At first Judas loved Jesus and wanted to be near him. That was a good choice.

But then Satan came along—just like a big blindfold—and covered up Judas’ eyes and his heart. And Judas let Satan stay there and didn’t push Satan away.

Soon, Judas stopped loving Jesus. He chose a very evil thing. He went to visit some bad men who wanted to kill Jesus and said “I choose to help you catch Jesus. What will you give me if I help you?” The bad men said, “We will give you some money” and so Judas chose the worst thing of all: he took the money and put it in his pocket – to help them kill Jesus.

Now you may keep your good choices—off you go to church school.

From the storyteller

candle in a clay bowl

Kids can see through moral tales, and, chameleon-like, will quickly align themselves to respond as they think will please you. I try to tell stories so that they will listen, experience and respond without automatic “Jesus” answers.

Storytellers often begin their story sessions with the lighting of a candle—entry into another place and time. Listen with us, be transported and inspired.

Jesus’ Resurrection

The Wrong Place to Look

Scripture reference: Luke 24:1-12; 24:5,6

tombThe day of Sabbath rest was over in Jerusalem. It was the start of a new week. The rosy sun was just beginning to push the darkness out of the night sky; the birds were fluffing their feathers and chirping their songs.

Mary Magdalene and the other women were up early, too, but they weren’t singing.

There was something they wanted to do for Jesus. On that terrible day at Golgotha they had watched Jesus die on the cross and they had cried and cried. The women had followed when Rabbi Joseph had taken Jesus’ body gently down from the cross and brought it to his own empty cave in the small garden. Rabbi Joseph had wrapped Jesus’ body in a soft white cloth and put him on a bed of sweet-smelling spices. So the women knew where to find the Master they loved so much. Mary Magdalene and her friends wanted to do something for Jesus, so they prepared more spices and sweet-smelling perfumes. They would bring them to the cave and cry together.

Everything was so sad, and so mixed up!

How could Jesus be dead? He’d promised them a kingdom; how could he be king of a kingdom, lying in a cave all wrapped up and covered with spices, with a guard of Roman soldiers standing in front of the big stone?

He’d promised them treasures in heaven; how could he give them anything when those greedy soldiers at the cross had taken away all his clothes?

He’d promised them that he would destroy God’s temple and raise it back up in three days; how could he fix the temple when the curtain had ripped into two pieces and he wasn’t even there to fix it?

He’d promised to set the prisoners free, but how could he? Nobody was even listening to him anymore!

He’d said he was king, but why did the soldiers spit on him and make fun of him, and give him a pretending crown? And why would he let that crook on the cross beside him say those awful things?

And what about that great parade into Jerusalem when the people threw their coats on the ground and made a beautiful carpet for Jesus to ride on, and waved palm branches and shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”?

What happened to all the promises? Jesus was dead. All the promises were lost.

…..

But wait …. The most important promise of all – what was it?  “In three days I shall be raised again…” Had they forgotten?

Mary Magdalene and the women didn’t understand. All they could do was cry and go to the garden with the spices they had ready. “How are we going to roll away that big stone?” they worried. “Maybe we’re not strong enough to push it out of the slot….”

There was the cave: the soldiers were gone, and the big stone had been rolled away!!!

The women had forgotten! Into the cool, quiet rock space they tiptoed, carrying their spices, looking for the body of Jesus. There was the soft white cloth; there were the sweet-smelling spices; but where was Jesus?

Then suddenly, two shining angels! “Have you forgotten?” said one angel. “Have you forgotten Jesus’ promise? You’re looking for him in the wrong place: he is not here; he is not dead – he is alive, just as he said he would be! Come, and look!”

And the women came, and they looked.

And then they remembered Jesus’ promise – bigger than their small hearts and their small imaginations: big enough for YOU and for ME!

Jesus is not dead: HE IS RISEN! Hallelujah.

The Great Commission

Inside the Apple  

Scripture reference: John 17:17-21 

1-appleToday I’m going to ask you a very easy question:

Can you tell me what this is? An apple! Just one apple! Simple, isn’t it! A very shiny, a very red apple. It’s looks good and healthy, too, doesn’t it.

Yes, one beautiful red apple…..

Perhaps this one good apple, could be ten good apples, and then 100, and then 1000, even a whole church full, right up to the ceiling!

Now I want you to watch me carefully. [Cut open the apple… ] Look inside – What do you see? Seeds! Little pockets with seeds inside. And seeds can make more apples.

So, if you wanted more good apples like this one,

  • You would take the seeds,
    • Plant them in good earth, and water them, and feed them, and take good care of them
  • Until—one day—there will be apple trees with apples of their own—hundreds and thousands of them! – maybe even a whole church full!

Jesus’ helpers on earth were just like the seeds in this apple.

When it was time for Jesus to go back to his home in heaven, he sent his helpers into the land to do his work. But first he asked his heavenly Father: “Please look after my helpers and take care of them, plant them in good earth, and make them strong while they’re walking through the land teaching about me.”

  • so that more and more people would grow to love Jesus,
  • and someday the whole world can be full of grownups and children who love Jesus and believe in Him.

Jesus comforts his disciples and promises to return

The Promise Peppermints

Scripture reference: John 14:1-4 

[You will need to have available two peppermints]

peppermintsToday I’m going to tell you about Jeremy. Jeremy was three years old, and he was going to nursery school for the first time! He was so excited! He was even wearing a new sweatshirt just for the special day! He gulped his orange juice and hurried through his bowl of cereal. He zipped up his brand new backpack and jumped into the van behind his mom. Off they went. Jeremy’s mother parked the van in the parking lot and unbuckled Jeremy’s seat belt.

In they went. Jeremy’s mother helped him hang up his jacket, on a special hanger just for him. But … Jeremy’s mom wasn’t taking off her jacket. And, what was she saying? “See you later” ?? Jeremy didn’t understand this one bit. And he didn’t like it! “But, Mommy, I want you here. Stay here! I’m scared if you go away and leave me. You never leave me! I don’t want you to go away!” He plopped on the floor, as sad as sad.

Then Jeremy’s mom sat right down on the floor beside Jeremy. She gave him a big hug to make him feel better. Then she said, “Don’t be sad. It won’t be for long. I have work to do, so I have to go away now, but I’ll come back to take you home with me. I promise! And she reached into her pocket, and out came two peppermints. “Jeremy,” she said, “Look. These are for you. Promise peppermints.” She put one peppermint in Jeremy’s hand and said, “I promise.” She put the second peppermint in Jeremy’s other hand and said again, “I promise.” Then she got up, blew Jeremy a kiss with a smile, and off she went, out the door, away from Jeremy.

Jeremy was still a little sad, but he went to the toy corner anyway, holding his two peppermints. He sat down on the rug and watched the other kids. After a while he looked at the promise peppermints in his hand. He popped one into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he rode around on the toy tractor until he started to feel sad again, and squished down in the toy corner. After a while he looked at the second promise peppermint in his hand. He popped it into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he made a very big fort out of blocks  —–

Before he could get sad again, there was his mother to take him home.

And when Jeremy got bigger and heard about Jesus going away from his disciples to get ready for heaven, he remembered the promise peppermints and understood Jesus’ promise: “Don’t be sad; I will come back to take you home. I promise.”

God is like …

The Mother Eagle

Scripture reference: Isaiah 63:7-9 

baby bald eaglesThis nest of branches high on a rocky cliff is home for two small baby eagles. At first, they’re very small and helpless, just like Baby ______ who was baptized this morning. Mother Eagle is very busy finding food for them, pushing it down inside their tiny beaks and they‘re always hungry! And, at first, the wings of the baby eagles are hardly wings at all, just fuzzy little flaps, so of course they can’t fly anywhere yet, not at all like Mother Eagle who has very large strong wings with grownup feathers and can soar through  the air high and low!

Sometimes the baby eagles, as they’re growing bigger and more adventurous, make the mistake of hopping too close to the edge of the next high on the cliff. Out they tumble—and down they fall!

… And whenever that happens …

The watchful Mother Eagle spreads out her big wings and swoops down  under the falling frightened baby, catches it on her wing feathers, and carries it back to its safe place in the nest. There it stays until the baby is older and stronger and grows wing feathers, too!

God is like the Mother Eagle. He protects his children and keeps them safe, right from the time when Adam and Eve learned to live outside the beautiful garden, when Noah’s family stepped out onto Mount Ararat, when Ruth gathered the wheat, when manna from heaven fed the grumbling people, when Mary and Joseph looked for a place to stay in Bethlehem!

God watches over you and loves you every minute, and today God is here, watching over and protecting this new baby, too.