March 14 – April 11, 2004


Praising Puppets



Scripture:  John 20:1-18 and 21:1-14


Memory Verse:   Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life!”  John 14:6 (CEV)





This workshop will teach the children about Jesus’ important promises to us and give evidence of the promises being kept. It will also discuss the kind of gifts we receive abundantly from God, especially when we ask in the name of Jesus Christ.



Welcome and Introductions:

1.      Greet the children and introduce yourself.  Wear your nametag. Make sure the children are wearing nametags. If not, ask the shepherd to supply a temporary badge. Remember you are interacting with a different group of students each week that may not know you.

2.      Explain the purpose of this workshop.  For example, “Today we will use puppets to learn about promises and gifts.  First we will read the Bible story for this lesson.”


Bible Story: 

Before starting the story, you can give some background.  Example discussion follows. Does everyone know that Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins?  Then he was put into a tomb with a heavy stone blocking the entrance. All the disciples believed Jesus was dead and gone from their lives, and they were very sad.  This story takes place on the Sunday after Jesus’ death.  Does anyone know what we call that Sunday?  Easter.  Let’s talk about a few of the characters you will hear in the story. Who was Mary Magdalene?  Disciple or follower of Jesus.   Who were Simon Peter (or Peter) and John?  Also disciples, but two of the Twelve Disciples, often called Apostles.  There is also a person called "the Disciple whom Jesus loved."  We don't know for sure who this person was, but some people think it may have been John.


Children who have their Bibles can turn to John 20 and follow along as you read this passage from the CEV. (Please read Who Should Read the Bible in Class to understand why I do not encourage children reading out loud.)


Jesus Is Alive

20 1On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus' favorite disciple and said, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don't know where they have put him."
3Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. 5He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in.
6When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. 7He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus' face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself. 8The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. 9At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. 10So the two of them went back to the other disciples.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down 12and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus' body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. 13The angels asked Mary, "Why are you crying?"
She answered, "They have taken away my Lord's body! I don't know where they have put him."
14As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. 15Jesus asked her, "Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?"
She thought he was the gardener and said, "Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him."
16Then Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to him, "Rabboni." The Aramaic word "Rabboni" means "Teacher."
17Jesus told her, "Don't hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God." 18Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her.

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21 1Jesus later appeared to his disciples along the shore of Lake Tiberias. 2Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the brothers James and John, were there, together with two other disciples. 3Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing!" The others said, "We will go with you." They went out in their boat. But they didn't catch a thing that night.
4Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. 5Jesus shouted, "Friends, have you caught anything?"
"No!" they answered.
6So he told them, "Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish."
They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.
7Jesus' favorite disciple told Peter, "It's the Lord!" When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water. 8The boat was only about a hundred yards from shore. So the other disciples stayed in the boat and dragged in the net full of fish.
9When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it. 10Jesus told his disciples, "Bring some of the fish you just caught." 11Simon Peter got back into the boat and dragged the net to shore. In it were one hundred fifty-three large fish, but still the net did not rip.
12Jesus said, "Come and eat!" But none of the disciples dared ask who he was. They knew he was the Lord. 13Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave some of it to his disciples. He did the same with the fish. 14This was the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from death.

Discussion after the Bible Story:


This passage is about Jesus being raised from the dead.  Does anyone know a bigger word for this—one you hear at church during Easter?  Resurrection.  When Jesus appeared to his disciples, they didn’t seem to recognize him.  I wonder why that happened?  There’s no real answer available, but maybe it was because they did not expect him to be raised from death.  Maybe God used his power to keep them from recognizing him at first.  Maybe he looked different—more divine.  Encourage lots of answers.    Why did Jesus appear to them?  To show them that he rose from the dead.  To show God's power.  What did he tell Mary to do?  He told Mary to tell “my disciples” that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God.   And when Jesus says “my disciples,” who does he mean?  Disciples are followers, so it includes all his followers, and we are part of that group.


 So this message is also for us:  Jesus is going to the one who is his Father and his God, as well as our Father and our God.  This is good news.  Jesus is with God the Father.  And in the rest of this lesson, we will learn that he is there to keep his promises to us and to make God’s many and generous gifts available to us. 


What did Jesus do or say to the disciples who were fishing?  He performed a miracle so that they caught an abundance of fish—more than they could catch without him.  Then he fed his disciples bread and fish.  I wonder what he was trying to tell them?  Maybe that he would care for them, that he would give them more food and other things that they needed than they could get on their own.   Do you think the disciples were happy to see Jesus?  Yes.  Jesus was not gone from their lives.  This is very important, because he is not gone from your lives either. 





Note:  There are 3 skits with differing numbers of characters in each.  You may have to repeat one or more of the skits to give everyone a chance to perform.   


1)      Divide the class into groups of children for each skit. 

2)      Give out copies of the script to each child.   The scripts can be highlighted for individual parts.

3)      The puppets can already be out on a table.  Let the children line up to choose a puppet.  The puppets don’t have to match the parts they play.

4)      You have several options about who can read the parts.  You may pre-record the entire skit on cassette tape before Sunday.  You can choose a narrator (use a shepherd or workshop leader) to read all the puppet parts while children act out with the puppets.  You may also allow each child to read and act out his/her own puppet part.   With this last option, you may encounter 1st and 2nd graders that don’t read well, but an adult can help them with their part by either reading it for them or prompting them with lines when they perform.

5)      Allow the groups 5 minutes to practice their script.  Space out all the adults in the room to help with the script practice.  Grades 1&2: The shepherd and workshop leader should help with the scripts, perhaps even “speaking” the voices while the children act them out.  

6)      After each skit, have the puppet operators return to the audience to discuss what happened in the skit as a group.  Apply the skit to the concepts being taught in this workshop.  See suggested discussion questions below.

7)      If you have to repeat a skit to give everyone a turn, you may hold the discussion until the second time you have done the skit.


Skit 1 Discussion Questions:


Jeremy didn’t take his mother’s promise very seriously but Fred did.  Who would you want to be, Jeremy or Fred? Most children will probably say Fred except someone looking for a reaction.   Have you ever been promised something and you didn’t totally understand what you were being promised?  If no one answers, prompt them with some ideas--maybe some place you’d never been, like a city or museum, and it might not have sounded fun until you got there.  Do you sometimes have to trust the person who promised you?  What did Fred say about his mother?  She always kept her promises, and he KNEW it would be something special.  So Fred trusted his mother to give him good things.  Should Jeremy have trusted his mother too?  Yes.  Unfortunately, this is the way people are with Jesus’ promises.  Some people will believe his promises and receive them, and some people will choose not to believe his promises and will not receive them.  But God gives us that choice.


Skit 2 Discussion Questions:


What is the difference between a gift and a payment? Children will have different words for this but try to get across the idea that a payment is required or expected, and a gift is above and beyond.  Right now, let’s talk about gifts other than at birthdays and at holidays like Christmas.  Have you ever gotten a gift that you weren’t expecting.  Why are those kinds of gifts given?  Usually out of love.  If people you know give you gifts like a bike, what kind of gifts do you think God, who is much more powerful, can give?   I hope you get some interesting answers!  Godly love, life, health, food, weather are some more practical ideas.  God has lots of gifts to give us, especially if we believe in Jesus and try to be like him.  Does God always give us everything we want?  No  Do our parents?  No  That’s because sometimes we don’t know what is best for us.  


Skit 3 Discussion Questions:


In this skit we hear some of the promises that Jesus made while he was alive and then we hear the disciples explain how Jesus kept those promises.  What were some of the things that Jesus promised to the disciples?  peace, joy, happiness, the Holy Spirit, that he would go away and come back again, that we would have new life.  If you had been a disciple, how would you have felt when you remembered what Jesus had said and realized that he had kept his promise?  Try for discussion.  How does it make you feel now—knowing that Jesus keeps his promises?



Review the two concepts covered and ask whether there are any questions. 


Reflection Time:

  1. About 10:35 a.m. or when you have finished the skits and discussion, ask the shepherds to pass out the journal sheets and pencils/markers.  Ask the younger children to draw a picture of the most important thing they learned today.  The workshop leader(s) and shepherd(s) can help parents by writing a caption on the picture.  Ask the older children to write two things that they learned today.  If they have time, they can illustrate. 
  2. At 10:45 a.m., ask the students to close their journals and sit quietly for prayer.



Prayer:  Close with prayer.  Write your own or use this example.  Thank you God for sending Jesus into our lives.  Thank you that Jesus keeps his promise to us.  Thanks for all the gifts you give us.  It is in the name of Jesus Christ that we pray.


Tidy and Dismissal: Ask children to help clean up as they wait for their parents to arrive.  Close/lock the door and turn off the lights.


Who Should Read the Bible in Class:

As the writer of this lesson and also as a Faith Quest teacher, I strongly encourage you, the workshop leader, to read the Bible passage yourself and only after practicing it before your first Sunday. 


Catherine Devins, who helped Rev. Joan McCarthy bring the workshop rotation to the Kirk, suggests that “the workshop leader be sure to prepare a reading with emphasis and energy and excitement as appropriate.”  Drawing from personal experience, she says, “When I teach, I do the reading and ask the kids to follow along. Often I set up the story in an animated way, then read with as much drama as I can get away with.”


Teacher preparation in advance:

1.       Prayer is always a great way to start.  Pray for wisdom that you will be able to teach what God wants you to teach during this workshop.  Pray for a loving and patient attitude toward the children.  Pray for time management during the workshop. 

  1. Read the scripture passage and attend the Faith Quest Leaders Workshop.

3.      Please practice reading the scripture passage out loud several times.  See Who Should Read section of this lesson for encouragement.  

4.      Make at least 6 or 7 copies of each script.  You can highlight one character in each skit. 

5.       If you decide to pre-record the scripts, there is a tape recorder/boom box in the Praising Puppets cabinet.

6.       Prepare a closing prayer.

7.       Journal pages will be provided at the Bible Study or the first Sunday of the rotation.



Copies of the script.



Notes supplied by Lori Houck for curriculum writers' Bible study in December 2003.



SKIT 1 (4 characters)


Only Jeremy and Melanie are on the stage at the beginning.


Jeremy:  “My mom said I should do my homework and then she promised me something special would happen.”


Melanie:  “What do you think is going to happen?  Does she give you rewards for doing your homework?  Why didn’t she tell you more?  Maybe she is just trying to get you to do your homework.”


 Jeremy:   “I don’t know.  My brother, Fred, sat down and did his homework right away, but I just want to play for a while.” 


Melanie leaves the stage, and Fred and Mother are on the stage with Jeremy.


Narrator (can be child that played Melanie):   “Later at Jeremy’s house…”


Mother:  “Jeremy, Fred, have you finished your homework yet?”


Jeremy:  “No.  I just came inside from playing.  I’m going to do it now.” 


Fred:  “I’m done.  When does the special thing happen?  What is it?”


Mother: “Fred, you and I are going to a movie preview right now.”


Jeremy:  “What about me?”


Mother:  “You’ll have to stay here with your father.  We don’t have time to wait for you.”


Jeremy:  “Why didn’t you tell me what was going to happen?”


Mother:  “I wasn’t sure either of you could finish in time, and I didn’t want you to rush through your homework.  But since Fred did finish and did a nice job, he and I will go.  I’m sorry you didn’t believe me.”


Fred:  “You always keep your promises.  I knew it’d be something special, even if I didn’t completely understand what you were talking about.”




SKIT 2 (4 characters)


Andy:  “Look at my new bike.”


Marion:  “That looks really expensive.”


Teresa: “How did you get that?”


Andy’s father:  “We gave it to Andy because he was so good all summer.  He made his bed and kept his room clean every day.  He also helped us by playing with his younger sister.”


Marion:  “So it’s like you’re paying him for doing that?”


Andy’s father:  “No, it’s just a gift.  We love him very much, and we love the way he’s been behaving.”


Teresa:  “I am paid for cleaning my room.  I do it, and then I get a weekly allowance.”


Andy: “My parents don’t believe in getting paid for chores.  They say that you do chores because it’s your share of the family’s work.  I wasn’t really expecting anything for what I did, other than to be part of the family.  But I love this new bike!”



SKIT 3 (8 characters)


Narrator:  “Today, we are going to hear Jesus and his followers talk about some of the promises that Jesus made and kept while he was on earth.  These are all from the Gospel of John.”


Jesus:  “I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give.” (John 14:27)


Thomas:  “When Jesus appeared to me after his resurrection, I felt more peaceful than I have ever felt.”


Jesus:  “You are now very sad.  But later I will see you, and you will be so happy that no one will be able to change the way you feel.” (John 16:22)


Mary: “I cried when I found Jesus’ tomb empty, but when I saw him alive again my sadness turned to joy!”


Jesus:  “Then I will ask the Father to send you the Holy Spirit who will help you and always be with you.” (John 14:16)


James:  “When we saw Jesus alive again in the upper room he breathed the Holy Spirit on us.  The Spirit has stayed with me ever since and always helps me follow Jesus.”


Jesus:  “In a little while the people of this world won’t be able to see me, but you will see me.  And because I live, you will live.” (John 14:19)


Peter:  “Jesus conquered death.  He was resurrected to life and went to be with God the Father.”


John:  “After being raised from the dead, Jesus appeared to us again – alive!”


Nathanael:  “Because Jesus died and rose again, we can have new life too if we believe in him.”