As we begin a new year, I have begun a new quest to keep better in touch with kids and their families throughout the week. I have resolved myself to write a weekly blog entry in an effort do just that, as well as share some of the lessons, happenings and humor which all work in conjunction beautifully, to form our ministry to children at Fruitland Community Church.
Summary - Starting with the birth of Jesus during our Christmas story lessons, a small group of 20 - 30 children's churchers have embarked on a journey through the Gospels in hopes to better learn and understand the life of Jesus. The past Sunday, January 3rd, our travel took us out into the wilderness to meet the one and only John the Baptist. John came to our class and shared some of his famous locust and honey (although locust were unavailable and so he gave us plastic spider rings instead). We talked about what life would be like living in the desert, what some common animals that live in the desert are, and John's clothing. Specifically, we talked about why did John go to the wilderness anyway? Some answers included that John was trying to keep away from the leaders of the day and that it was more feasible to draw a crowd in the wilderness than in the city marketplace or somewhere similar. We then focused on the spiritual lessons that we can draw from John the Baptist's life.
Lesson 1 - John was set apart for God's work. John was called by God to be the one who was to 'Prepare the way of The Lord, and make straight paths for Him' (Matt 3:1-3). This calling on his life was important, so important that John gave up everything except the very basic things of life. Matthew mentions his clothing of camel's hair, which would be for a very poor person in society, as well as the diet of locust and honey. Very basic indeed. John gave up everything because he didn't want anything to get in the way of his priority.... God's work. This made us reevaluate our priorities in our life, whether it be video games, karate, movies, football or food.... God should be #1.
Lesson 2 - John's message was for people to 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near' (Matt 3:1-3). He didn't have one message for the Jews, one message for the Gentiles, and one message for the Jewish leaders. It was the same message for all. John even directly criticises some of the Pharises who come out to look after him, calling them a brood of vipers! John knew that they thought highly of themselves because of their position and family history. We talked in class about how easy it is to do this ourselves. We think that because we are from this family, or because we go or don't go to this school - then we will be o.k. - John the Baptist says that we all need to 'Repent', no one is above the law.
Humor - I wanted everyone to have a sample taste of the honey that John the Baptist would use with his 'locust and honey'. I accidently dropped the plates that the honey was on into the sand box that was also being used as a teaching tool. I thought I got most of the sand off, but there were a few comments of 'My honey has sand in it' - whoops!
Next Sunday - John the Baptist comes back one more week - this time he is baptizing Jesus as we focus on the triune nature of God displayed at the baptism and why Jesus was baptized anyway.
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