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Easter Pt-1

I’m late on the Easter re-cap, but I’m about late on my updates all the time.  Sometimes I just get to living life and don’t know how long it’s been since I updated last.  Then, when I realize how long it actually was I realize that I have not made my rounds of people’s blogs, some of whom actually have updated, some every day.  So then, out of guilt, I go read their blogs, and leave comments, often thinking to myself, “I wish I could think of something like that.”  By that time I have run out of time for my own writing.

There are two times a year the general populace feel they must go to church, Christmas and Easter.  The church was full.  My whole family and the grandbabies were present (Pictures coming) along with about 500 other people but I was in Sunday School helping with the Easter presentation.

The children were divided into groups and each child given a giant poster-board jelly bean of different colors.  Each group then said a part of “The Jelly Bean Prayer” which goes:

Red is for the blood He gave.

Green is for the grass He made.

Yellow is for the sun so bright.

Orange is for the edge of night.

Black is for the sins that were made.

White is for the grace He gave.

Purple is for the hour of sorrow.

Pink is for the new tomorrow.

Then they sang, “Alive, alive, Jesus is alive” and another Easter song called, “Jesus is Risen” to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me.”  Sorry I don’t remember all the words off hand but the chorus went:

Jesus is risen

Jesus is risen

Jesus is risen

Tell everyone you meet.

They did very good and I was proud of all of them.  Even my most challenging kids (I teach 6 & 7 year olds) were well-behaved and said their lines perfectly.  Then they passed out little packets of jelly beans to people in the congregation as we left the main sanctuary and went back to the classroom where I told them how wonderful they were and what good examples, etc.

The kids seemed wired from standing in front of the whole church and probably from candy, too, so we reviewed the last couple of weeks’ lessons, the Garden, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.  We actually covered the resurrection twice, because when you teach the death of Jesus you should never leave the students without knowledge of the hope that goes with it.  If you leave Jesus on the cross or in the grave, and that student doesn’t come back the next week to hear the end of the “cliffhanger,” you are wrong.

The week we focused on the crucifixion I brought in some long nails from the hardware store and a crown of thorns which my son had made from a nasty, thorny weed that grows near fountain creek.  You should always, whether it’s Sunday School, Scouting, or any other interaction with children, remember to keep things age appropriate.  Six and seven year olds can be impressed by just seeing these things and a simple explanation whereas teenagers may need to hear more about the asphyxiation and torture elements of the story.  “Little is much when God is in it.”

Living near five military bases most of our kids know what being a soldier is, at least to some extent, so to say that the soldiers were on guard duty and fell down for fear does not need as deep an explanation here as it may in other places, either.  Even nowadays, you can spend a long time in prison and even be executed for falling asleep on guard duty.  These men were bribed with large amounts of money to spread the story that they were asleep and the disciples stole his body.

We reviewed this and then talked about the things that happened in the next 40 days, including Thomas touching the scars on his hands and feeling the spear-hole in his side and Jesus telling them to cast their nets on the other side, causing Peter to jump in the water and swim to shore.  Then I advised the kids that if they could be good and follow every instruction carefully, we could do something special.  We could go to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus often went to pray or to teach.  I grabbed a helium balloon I had secreted in the closet and said, “You guys saw all those people in the church?  That was 500 people, did you know that?”  Appropriate “Oooooo’s” and “Aaaah’s” and “Wows.” “Well, that’s how many people followed Jesus to the mountain.  Let’s go on a hike to the mountain.”

So we walked, ever so quietly and orderly, from our sweltering upstairs room, down the stairs and out the door into the relatively mild air outside.

“Where are we going Brother Thiel?”

“We’re on the path to the Mount of Olives.”

“Nuh-uh.  This is the sidewalk around the church.”

“You have to use your imagination.  You have to pretend.”  The great thing about this age group is that they are not the strict, concrete thinkers the 4 & 5 year olds are and are just starting to get into slightly more abstract thought and ideas, and imagination is fun. They are just starting to get jokes and riddles and puns and they love excitement and adventure.

“Are we going to climb Pikes Peak today, too?”  Some little girl joked.

“Nope, just walk around to the Mount of Olives.  In fact, we’re almost there.”

“What are you gonna do with the balloon, Brother Thiel?”

“Isn’t this the same spot where the Red Sea was?”

“Yes, but it’s the Mount of Olives today and Jesus is talking to 500 or more people that came with Him to this spot.”

“Why does Jesus look like Tigger?”

What are you gonna do with the balloon, Brother Thiel?”

“It’s not supposed to look like Jesus, it’s just a prop, a part of the lesson and you’ll see.”

You may have heard one portion of what is called the “Great Commission” over and over again in your lifetime, which is the part recorded in Matthew, but did you know the Great Commission is recorded in Mark, Luke and the book of Acts, as well.

Matthew:  “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Mark:  “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Luke:  “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And ye are witnesses of these things.  And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you:  but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”

Acts:  “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.  For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. … It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and inSamaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

(Which I’ve printed here for you, but abbreviated to them for attention’s sake.  These things were fulfilled in the second chapter of the book of Acts and beyond…)

Then I held the balloon in front of my face and talked through it, which refocused their attention on the balloon.  “Then he lifted up his hands and blessed them.”  And at the same time I said that I put up my hands and…I…just…let…it…goooooo…

And we watched it float up into the sky.  We all just stood there and stared, “There it is! Look up there!  It’s so small!  It’s like a little dot!”

And then it was gone.  And we stood there looking into the sky.

“Then,” I told them, “there appeared two angels that said, ‘Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.’”

We walked back to the classroom, everyone talking about the balloon.  When we got into the classroom, I talked to them some more.  We discussed how that Jesus was going to come back, and he expected us to be preaching and teaching to everyone.  We have to tell everyone about Jesus.  About how he died and was buried but did not stay dead. How we have to repent, be sorry for our sins, wanting our sins to be nailed to his cross; how we are buried with him in baptism in His name to wash away those sins; how we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, that Comforter he promised that is the Spirit of Jesus, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”  He comes to live inside anyone who wants Him and he promises that, if we obey Him, He will come and take us to be with Him.

Remember, The Good Book Says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it werenot so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

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