Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 
Lesson for Second Sunday of Easter (May 1, 2011)

Scripture Reference:  John 20: 19-31

Praise Song for May: "You Who Give Us Life"
 
First Thoughts:  Here we see the story of Thomas, who is absent when the resurrected Christ appears, and so has difficulty believing the story.  We want to help the kids examine what it means to take someone at his/her word. How do we know when testimony is trustworthy and when it’s false?  

Props You Will Need:  None needed.

Teaching as a Team
Leader 1: Hey, (name) - Do you trust me?
Leader 2: Sure I do.
Leader 1: So if I told you I saw something, would you believe me?
Leader 2:  Probably.
Leader 1:  Yesterday I saw three cardinals outside my bedroom window.  Believe that?
Leader 2:  Sure - that sounds likely enough. 
Leader 1:   What if I told you that I also saw a pig flying through the air.  Would you believe that?
Leader 2: A flying pig?  Hmmm.  No, I don’t think so.
Leader 1: Why not?
Leader 2: Well, I’ve seen cardinals before, and I know they’re around this time of year.  But I’ve never, ever seen a pig fly.  I mean, they don’t even have wings!
Leader 1: So you’re saying because what I say sounds wacky, you don’t believe it?
Leader 2: Yeah, I guess so.
Leader 1: But you said you trusted me.  So which is it - do you believe me because you think I’m trustworthy, or do  you not believe me because my story’s too crazy?
Leader 2:  That’s a hard one.  I don’t know.
Leader 1: Then you have the same problem Thomas had.  Thomas was one of Jesus’ friends.  After Jesus came back from the tomb, Jesus came back to show his friends.  But guess who wasn’t there…
Leader 2: Thomas!
Leader 1: Right.  So when Thomas got back, his friends tried to tell him what had happened.  Thomas didn’t believe it.  He just couldn’t imagine that Jesus, who he saw die on the cross, was really alive.
Leader 2:  Well, that would be hard to believe - even harder than flying pigs.
Leader 1:  It is hard to believe.  But Thomas had to decide - did he trust his friends or not?  Did he trust God or not?  
Leader 2: So what happened?  Did Thomas end up believing?
Leader 1: Actually Jesus came to Thomas himself, to show Thomas the truth for himself.  Sometimes it works that way - we have an experience ourselves which helps our faith grow.  But sometimes we have to listen to other people, and let their experiences grow our faith.  Faith means deciding what we’re going to believe, and sticking with it even when it doesn’t make sense.  
Leader 2: But hey (looking up nervously) - you were kidding about the “flying pigs” thing, right? 
Leader 1:  Yeah.    

Teaching on Your Own:  Hey, do you guys trust me?  So if I told you I saw something, would you believe me?  Yesterday I saw three cardinals outside my bedroom window.  Believe that? OK, what if I told you that I also saw a pig flying through the air.  Would you believe that?  (wait for “no” response)  Why not?  Do you think it sounds too wacky?   But wait a minute - you said you trusted me.  So which is it - do you believe me because you think I’m trustworthy, or do  you not believe me because my story’s too crazy?  You know, that’s the same problem Thomas had.  Thomas was one of Jesus’ friends.  After Jesus came out of the tomb, Jesus came back to show his friends.  But guess who wasn’t there… Thomas!  So when Thomas got back, his friends tried to tell him what had happened.  Thomas didn’t believe it.  He just couldn’t imagine that Jesus, who he saw die on the cross, was really alive.  That would be hard to believe, wouldn’t it?  Maybe even harder than flying pigs. So Thomas had to decide - did he trust his friends or not?  Did he trust God or not?  Jesus knew that Thomas was having difficulty believing, so Jesus finally came to Thomas himself, to help him and show Thomas the truth for himself.   Sometimes it works that way - we have an experience ourselves which helps our faith grow.  But sometimes we have to listen to other people, and let their experiences grow our faith.  Faith means deciding what we’re going to believe, and sticking with it even when it doesn’t make sense.   Hey, but don’t worry - I wasn’t serious about the flying pigs thing!

Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, for helping us grow in our faith.  For those times in our lives when we feel your love, and for the stories of others which teach us and challenge us.  We thank you for the story of Thomas, who needed help in believing; because we know that, as you helped him, you will help us too.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: This would be a nice opportunity to introduce the idea of discernment to the kids.  In all the testimonies they receive in the world, how do they decide what to believe?  You might give them a series of beliefs: “The world is round”, “Dinosaurs lived millions of  years ago”, “The moon is made of cheese”, “Vampires come out at night” , “Pigs can fly“- etc.   Let the kids tell you which ones they believe, and which ones they disbelieve, and explain why.  Who do they think is trustworthy in their lives?  How do they know when someone is testifying in accordance with God’s Spirit?  We can start by seeing if that person’s life bears the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self-control, gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23).  Also, is the person trying to build people up or tear them down (Ephesians 4: 29)?  If their words are helpful, and their life has the fruits of God’s Spirit, we might want to pay attention!