Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12
Memory Verse: “Pay attention, my children! Follow my advice, and you will be happy.” Proverbs 8:32 (CEV)
Objectives: This workshop will focus on helping children understand what behavior Jesus recommended during the Beatitudes speech and modeled during his own life: loving, gentle, kind and peaceful. If we truly accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will make every effort to be like this all day long, no matter who we are with or what situation we are in. The children will also learn that in the Beatitudes, Jesus told us that God takes care of us if and when something bad happens. The children will have an introduction to the concept that bad things do happen but that God is with us during these times and often we are stronger as a result. As Paul said, “But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3 CEV (This is a great scripture for tough times—look it up in your version, too!) Also another great one for tough times: “The LORD is good. He protects those who trust him in times of trouble.” Nahum 1:7 CEV
Welcome and Introductions:
1. The Bible story should occupy no more than 10 minutes of the workshop period. The children will be eager to get to the puppets. For the first two weeks of the lesson, you will need to be more thorough; after that a quick review should suffice. You can use a telling/asking approach to talk about the scripture. You could start by setting the scene for this scripture: crowds were following Jesus from town to town because his preaching and healing were so amazing. You can ask the children if they have ever seen something so amazing that they dropped whatever they were doing to follow and see what would happen next. At some point, Jesus sat down, which is how Rabbis and teachers taught back then. Then Jesus spoke many wise things to the crowd. The first things that he talked about are called the Beatitudes. Does anyone know what the word Beatitudes means? (Blessings) And what is a blessing? (Something good—can be a feeling of well-being or joy; praise; a special gift or reward) In Jesus’ speech, the blessings are God’s gifts to us, some are feelings, some are things, and some are given on earth and some in heaven. These gifts are given either because of the way we act or because of things that happen to us on earth. The Beatitude speech was meant to encourage Jesus’ followers who weren’t especially powerful or who had troubles in their lives but who could be faithful to God and Jesus and be blessed.
2. You can have a child read, but I have found that having an adult read makes the passage more understandable—it goes faster, has emphasis in the right places and keeps the interest up in the class. The children can follow along in their Bibles if they brought one. As each blessing is read you might add a short statement and allow a chance for children to ask questions. I’m providing some thoughts about each Beatitude to give you some background for yourself and some input for kid-friendly statements. (The superscripts are the verse numbers.)
3God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven! (God wants us to depend on him. If someone’s version has “people who are poor in spirit”—this is the same thing. These are people who have realized (as God wishes all to realize) that their own spirit is not enough to handle life. They find themselves “poor in spirit;” therefore, they need God’s spirit to help them with all aspects of life.)
4God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort! (This is a blessing about God caring for people who are having a hard time. It can be God or fellow Christians who provide this comfort.)
5God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them! (This refers to people who let others go first, who serve, who are not in charge, etc.—God says this behavior is great, that in the end they will have a share of everything.)
6God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want! (Obedience again! If you try to be obedient, God will make it easier for you to be obedient—it will become your nature. And God likes and further blesses people who are obedient to his will and commands. In some versions, this says people hungering for righteousness will be given righteousness, which is basically the same thing.)
7God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy! (God loves mercy—he gives us mercy by forgiving us, and he wants us to be merciful to and forgive each other.)
8God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him! (A pure heart is when you are totally focused on following God. Who had one? Jesus. I believe God will give us pure hearts after a life of trying so that we can look upon him in heaven. A nice prayer for a pure heart is found in Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” NIV)
9God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children! (God loves peace. He will reward peacemakers.)
10God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven. (God knows that when you are trying to be good, but sometimes bad people get mad at good behavior and tease or make trouble for you. God knows this and will reward you for being good anyway.)
11God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. 12Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago. (Similar to previous blessing. God knows that bad people may make fun of Christians and even say lies about them because they want everyone to be bad like they are. God will reward you in heaven if this happens.)
3. After going through the Beatitudes, start the skits by saying the skits will focus on how God will bless us for acting like Jesus (loving, gentle, kind and peaceful) on earth and for any bad things that happen to us.
Note: There are 2 skits. Each has 4 characters. You may have to repeat one of the skits to give everyone a chance to perform or you might choose different options about who speaks depending on how many children are present. Let each child have a chance to operate a puppet or they will be disappointed. There are a lot of questions provided, probably more than you could possibly cover. Choose the questions you feel are most relevant for your age group, but do ask enough questions to relate these skits to the concepts we are teaching about God.
Review the two concepts covered and ask whether there are any questions.
Prayer: Close with a simple prayer thanking God for all the blessings he provides for us and especially thanking him for Jesus. Ask God to help us be more like Jesus—loving, gentle, kind and peaceful. Ask God to increase our knowledge of the Bible and our faith.
Teacher preparation in advance:
1. Pray: Ask God to give you the talents, words, assurance and patience you need to teach God’s children this lesson.
2. Read the scripture passages and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Bible Study.
3. Make at least 12 copies of each script page. Cut the scripts into pieces so that each player can have a copy. You can also post two copies of the script at each end of the stage so puppeteers can refer to it.
4. Prepare a closing prayer.
5. Check out the room before your first Sunday workshop so that you know where everything is located.
6. If you choose to pre-record the scripts, you can borrow a boom box from the church and using a scratch tape-record the scripts. Family members and their friends can have a lot of fun playing the different parts.
1. Copies of the script.
Notes supplied by Lori Houck for curriculum writers' Bible study in July 2002.
HOW AND WHY DOES GOD BLESS US?
Scott: “I keep thinking about what happened to Joshua. I was with him at the new skate park, and he fell down pretty hard. I bought him a soda with my own money.”
Angelica: “My mom said it really hurt when he fell and he kept getting worse all night. His mom took him to the doctor the next day. The doctor said he pulled a muscle and can’t do very much for a while.”
Frank: “My mom made me go visit him. She said I should cheer him up. She made a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies for me to take. I was glad I went. He was really bored and a little sad, but he told me it was his fault. He said he was trying to cut in front of someone because he didn’t want to wait. He said once he’s better, he’s going to be more careful at the skate park.”
Elizabeth: “You mean he’s going to skate again?”
Frank: “Sure, as much as it hurt, Joshua said he thinks it’s going to make him a better skater. He said he’s not going to be in such a hurry.”
Angelica: “I heard his father is buying him a better helmet. The skate shop said Joshua was lucky that he didn’t really hurt his head because his helmet didn’t fit right.”
Elizabeth: “I hope all this makes up for what happened to him. I wouldn’t want to get hurt like that. I think I’ll make a card for him.”
Scott: “When bad things happen, maybe good things happen to make up for it. Who knows—this might have kept Joshua from getting really hurt in his old not-so-good helmet. This way he’s going to be ok, and he’s going to be more careful.”
Elizabeth: “That’s kind of what my mom says when bad things happen. She says that later on we can see how God was with us during the bad times. Then she always says, ‘Thank you God!’ ”
Ben/Beth: “Why were you talking to that new kid? He seems a little strange.”
Matthew/Mildred: “He looked a little lonely. I wouldn’t want to be a new kid and have everyone ignore me, so I asked him some things about himself.”
Mom/Dad: “That’s nice, Matthew. That is the kind thing to do. It helps to think about how you would want to be treated—it helps you treat other people more nicely.”
Ben/Beth: “But what if I don’t feel like being nice?”
Mom/Dad: “You should act nice to everyone, no matter who they are or how they treat you, even if you don’t feel like being that way. After a while, it will get easier when you find out that most other people treat you nicely in return.”
Matthew/Mildred: “The new kid’s name is David, and he was really nice to me. He invited me to come to a hockey game. His Dad has tickets.”
Ben/Bath: “I wish I’d been nice to that kid.”
Mom/Dad: “But your reward for doing the right thing is not always so quick. Don’t be expecting every new kid you’re nice to, to take you to something exciting.”
Matthew 5:1-12 CEV
5 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on the side of a mountain and sat down.
Jesus’ disciples gathered around him, 2and he taught them:
3God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!
4God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!
5God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!
6God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want!
7God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!
8God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
9God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children!
10God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.
11God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me.
12Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. People did these same things to the prophets who lived long ago.