Summer is around the corner, and Knoxville is launching into Phase 2 of reopening. Slowly, but surely, things seem to heading back to normal. I pray that it continues to feel that way, and that the virus continues to wane throughout our nation and our world.
We wanted to share with you some highlights from our curriculum, so that your child will be able to follow along with the lessons they are being taught in Children’s Ministry. This blog post contains information about this week’s lesson from our Gospel Story curriculum, which is being taught to 3 & 4 year olds, up through 3rd grade, as well as this week’s lesson from our New City Catechism that is being taught to 4th-5th graders. May it brighten your week and bless you!
The lesson from the Gospel Story Curriculum for this week is about when Jacob Flees from Laban. The biblical account can be found in Genesis 30:25 - 31:55. I know that’s rather a long passage, but it has a long story to account for it, from Laban tricking Jacob, to Jacob tricking Laban, to God blessing Jacob with goats and flocks, to the call to return to Canaan, to Laban’s pursuit, and the peace treaty made between them. If you would like to read the child-friendly version of this story from the Gospel Story Bible, you may click here. To access the weekly coloring sheet, click here, then scroll down to the last page. The lesson recommends having your child draw spots or streaks on each of the animals in this picture, to show that they belonged to Jacob. 
The first object lesson is a bit of a science experiment. Give each of your children a glass half full of water. Place a few drops of food coloring in their water, stir it up, and have them drink it. Does the food coloring change the color of their eyes? Of their skin? Of their hair? Likewise, Who was it who truly changed the flocks into speckled and spotted? God was choosing to bless Jacob.
For this next activity, you will need 2 adults, one of them with a puppet. Place a small, closed box on a table, containing one raw egg. Have the adult who put the box there tell the puppet they have to leave the room to go get something, but the puppet is not to touch the box while they're gone.  The rest of the skit is the puppet slowly getting closer to breaking the rules, out of curiosity to know that's inside, first by gently poking the box, then picking it up, shaking it gently, shaking it harder until the egg inside has cracked. At this point the first adult returns and asks if the puppet has moved the box. Open the lid and show the kids the mess of the cracked egg. Have the puppet apologize with real remorse. The first adult can now explain that they didn't tell the puppet not to touch because they wanted to hurt the puppet, but rather it was to protect the puppet from getting hurt or being in trouble. This is how God tells us to run away from sin and temptation, to protect us and keep us from getting hurt or being in trouble. We should listen to Him, as Jacob did when God told him to flee from Laban and return to Canaan.
The lesson recommends using this next activity as a springboard to talk with your children about the story of Rachel stealing her father’s household “gods”. Print out a dozen copies of a picture of an idol (this could be any picture of any OT idol, or Buddha, or whatever). Hide the pictures around the room. Read Genesis 31:25-33 to your kids, and tell them that Rachel had asked to come hide her household gods in here, but now that you've thought about it, you don't think it's a good idea and you want help to find them all again. Have the children search for, and bring you, all the pictures of the gods. After they're done, have a discussion about how these "gods" are different than our God because they are fake, made of wood or stone or metals, and are not alive, while our God is living and active, speaking to us in His word, directing our lives and relating to us. Talk about why Rachel would have taken her father's household gods. Most commentators believe that it's because she was still just learning about the one true God, and she felt like she still needed to cling to her fake gods to bring her safety in their travels. Finally, talk with your kids about why God wanted Jacob and his family to leave Laban's house and return to Canaan: to fulfill the promise of giving this land to Abraham and his descendants, and also to separate Jacob and his family from these false gods and bring them to a place where they could freely worship God alone.
There are a couple of teaching points that are really good to draw out to your children as you go through this lesson. First of all, point out to your children that God prospered Jacob by giving him flocks of sheep and goats. Although Jacob was sneaky, and helped the goats to give birth to spotted or streaked animals, really it is only God who can cause the babies to be born that way. He is in control of all things, and He had chosen to bless Jacob. Talk with them also about how God called Jacob home. After blessing him with family and flocks, God told Jacob in a dream that it was time to go back to Canaan. This is because that was the land God had promised to Abraham and his descendants, the land promised to Jacob. Also, God was wanting to protect Jacob from Laban's anger, and to protect his family from being raised in an environment where everyone worshipped household "gods", rather than worshipping the one true God. Finally, show them how God made peace between Jacob and Laban. Rather than letting Jacob remain a continual refugee, always fleeing from angry relatives who want to harm him, God in His sovereignty gave him peace with his father-in-law. God is a God of unity.
This is the last week to work on our Sword Bible Memory Verse for the month of May. For preschoolers, they are learning Psalm 145:8. For grades K-2, they are learning Psalm 145:8-10. And in 3rd grade, they are working on learning Psalm 145:8-13. To see the verses printed out, you can click here and go to Sword Verse #5.
The New City Catechism question for this week is question #44 - “What is baptism?” Answer - “Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The biblical passage for this lesson comes from Matthew 28:16-20. The weekly memory verse for this age group is Matthew 28:19.
One easy way to help kids visualize this concept of baptism is by showing them a wedding ring. Ask them what it is and why you wear it. Place the ring on one of your kids’ fingers. Does that mean that now they’re married, but you’re not? Of course not! Wearing the ring doesn’t make you married, but rather it is an outward sign of your marriage covenant and the promises you made to each other on your wedding day, that you belong to one another. In the same way, baptism doesn’t save you, but it is an outward sign of your salvation and that you belong to God.
You can also use the attached resource (click here) to show your kids the pictures “What Do These Signs Mean?”. Wearing an FBI badge doesn’t make you an FBI agent, but if you receive the badge, it’s a sign that you went through years of training to serve your country and that you have the support of your government behind you. These signs are all symbols of what is on the inside. Baptism is full of symbolism! The idea that you go under the water, where you cannot breathe, symbolizes your death to yourself and to sin. Then you come up out of the water, washed and clean, and that symbolizes that you are alive again in Christ, and that your sins have been washed away. (Romans 6:4)
The other part of the attached resource are some pictures that illustrate the following story of Nate Saint. Feel free to show them to your kids as you share this story:
Nate Saint was an American missionary, who along with Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Pete Fleming went to share the good news of Jesus with the Waodani people in Ecuador. The Waodani had never heard about Jesus, and this team of men went to fulfill Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Waodani people had little contact with outsiders. The five missionaries could not speak much of the Waodani language, but they tried to get to know them by friendly gestures. They thought they had been successful, but to everyone’s shock, all five men were speared to death by members of the Waodani people on the banks of the Curaray river.
But the story didn’t end there! Nate Saint’s sister, Rachel, and Elisabeth Elliot, the widow of missionary Jim Elliot, went back to live and work among the Waodani people. In time, many of the Waodani became Christians. It was a beautiful testimony to the power of forgiveness and the power of the gospel.
Several years later, Nate Saint’s two children, Kathy and Steve, were baptized in the same river where their father had been killed. They were baptized by two of the men who had killed him. Kimo and Dyuwi had become Christians; they had repented of their sin and had found forgiveness in Jesus’ name. Steve and Kathy knew that they, too, were sinners, and needed forgiveness. By asking their father’s killers to baptize them, they testified that there is no sin that cannot be cleansed by Jesus’ blood.
If you’re looking for other resources for ideas and activities you can do with your children to help them use their time to invest in God’s kingdom, here are some we recommend: (Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church is having their annual VBS next week, June 1-4. It may not be in person, but even a virtual VBS is going to be fun and gospel filled!) (This is an old VBS song that speaks to me, about trusting God no matter what.) (There are several fun, OT games in this link. The 2 I most like are Isaac the Shepherd, which could also be for this week Jacob the Shepherd, and also Jacob’s Ladder Cup Stacker.)

Cornerstone Church of Knoxville