Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
Lesson for Fourth Sunday of Easter  (May 15, 2011)

Scripture Reference: Psalm 23

May Theme Song: "You Who Give Us Life"

First Thoughts:  What does it mean to us that God is our shepherd?  It’s a concept many children will find difficult to understand since many of them might not have much experience with sheep.  So we’re going to help them connect with the psalm by using everyday symbols which they do recognize.  

Props You Will Need:  A bag which contains a wallet with money,  fuzzy blanket, and a teddy bear. Leader 2 carries this bag with him.

Teaching as a Team
Leader 1:  Hey (name), why do you have that bag with you?
Leader 2:  These are just a few things I need to keep with me all the time.  Don‘t ever want to be without it.
Leader 1:  Oh yeah?  Well, what do you have in there?
Leader 2: (digging around, brings out wallet)  I have my wallet.  See?  It has some money in it.  So don’t have to worry about getting hungry, because I can always buy some food.
Leader 1: That makes sense.
Leader 2: And I have this (blanket) - a soft fuzzy blanket.  You know, so if I get tired I have something warm to snuggle with.
Leader 1:  Yeah.  That’s a good idea too.
Leader 2: And… well..  (digging around, reluctant to share)
Leader 1: Yeah, what else do you have in there?
Leader 2: I have this (teddy bear).  
Leader 1: A teddy bear?  What does that do for you?
Leader 2:  It’s something my mom gave me when I was little.  I like to keep it around in case I get scared, to remind me that there are people who love me who help me be safe in the world.
Leader 2:  Your bag certainly is full of useful things!  That reminds me of Psalm 23.  A psalm is a kind of song people sing to remind them about who God is.  This psalm tells us that God is like a shepherd.  
Leader 2: A shepherd?  You mean someone who takes care of sheep?
Leader 1: Right.  The psalm tells us that God  is like a shepherd, and we are like the sheep.  So God will provide for all of our needs….
Leader 2: Like a wallet full of money.
Leader 1: God helps us to rest when we need to.
Leader 2:   Which would make God like my blanky!
Leader 1: And that we never have to be scared, even when we go to very dark places, because God is always with us, to guide and protect us.
Leader 2: And that’s my teddy bear!
Leader 1:  Everything we need, we have in God.  
Leader 2: So maybe I don’t need this bag so much anymore.  Since I have God.
Leader 1: Hey - you may be right!

Teaching On Your Own:  Hey guys, see what I have here?  It’s my very special bag.  I try to take it with me wherever I go.  Wanna know what’s in it?  Well (reaching in, pulling out wallet), I have a wallet with money in it.  So in case I get hungry I can always buy myself a snack.  And (bring out blanket) I have this. Any idea what I would use this for?  In case I feel sleepy and want a nap, I need something warm to snuggle up with.  And finally (bring out teddy bear), anyone know what this is?  It’s my teddy bear.  My mom gave it to me when I was very small, and I keep it around for times when I get scared.  Holding my teddy bear reminds me that there are people who love me, and who will help me when I need it.  You know, all these things remind me of a psalm.  Does anyone know what a psalm it?  It’s a song we sing to tell us about God.  This psalm tells us that God is like a shepherd, and we are like the sheep the shepherd is protecting.  God is going to give us everything we need - kinda like the money in this wallet.  And God is going to help us find quiet comfy places to rest, like my blanket here.  And that we never have to feel scared, because God is always with us.  Even in places that are dark, God is right beside us to guide and protect us.   Which reminds me of my teddy bear!  You know, if I believe this psalm, that God is my shepherd, then maybe I don’t need this bag after all.  What do you think?

Closing Prayer:  Thank you, God, for being our shepherd, for giving us what we need to live, for giving us what we need to rest, and for being with us in the sunshine and in the darkness.  We are your sheep, and we will trust in you.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: A great way to follow up on this sermon in a classroom or home setting is to ask the question, if God is our shepherd, then how can we be good sheep together?  This gives us a chance to look at the other lectionary passage today, Acts 2: 42-47.   Read it to the children, and help them understand what the passage is saying: the believers shared everything in common.  To illustrate this you can pass out sealed paper bags to each child.  Some have three cookies in them, some have two, some have one, and some have none.  Ask the children to open the bags.  What are they going to do with these cookies?  What would they do if one of them was a wolf?  (Grab and eat all the cookies at once.)  But if we’re God’s sheep, what do we do?