Anna's Hosannas!
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Lesson for Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (August 7, 2011)


Theme Song for the Month of August: "Be the Change"

Scripture Reference: Matthew 14: 22-33

First Thoughts:  What happens when our faith leads us  into situations which are frightening or unknown?  What happens if we lose our nerve right in the middle of a holy assignment?  This week we’re going to use this passage from Matthew as an avenue to explore how important it is to train our eyes on Christ, so that we’re able to maintain our focus on Christ when we’re in difficult situations.

Props You Will Need:  Life preserver, kayak oar (optional)

Teaching as a Team

Leader 1: Hi, (name).  Can I ask you a question?  Why exactly do you have that life preserver on (have that oar)?  Are you expecting a flood?

Leader 2:  No, silly!  I went on a great whitewater rafting trip this weekend, and I just haven’t taken it off yet.

Leader 1:  A whitewater trip?  That sounds fun!

Leader 2:  It was.  A little scary though.

Leader 1:   Oh yeah?

Leader 2:  Yeah.   We had a little trouble when we came to the first falls.

Leader 1: What happened?

Leader 2: Our instructor told us to keep paddling, but once we started falling we all got freaked out, and started screaming.

Leader 1: And stopped paddling?

Leader 2: Yeah, we ended up getting sucked onto the rocks.

Leader 1: What happened then?

Leader 2: The instructor told us we needed to listen to her and do what she said - otherwise we were going to be spending a lot of time on the rocks.  Then she got out and pushed us off, and we were back in the game!

Leader 1: So what happened at the next falls?

Leader 2:  The next falls were scary too, but this time we all listened to the instructor.  We kept paddling the whole time, and we stayed afloat!

Leader 1: So you learned your lesson - even when you were scared, you needed to stay focused on what the instructor was telling you.  That reminds me of our bible story today.  Jesus‘ friends were all on a boat, but Jesus had stayed behind on the shore.  It started getting stormy and the boat started rocking.  The disciples were afraid, but then they saw Jesus coming to the boat, walking on the water!

Leader 2:  That must have been amazing to see!

Leader 1:  It was.  But one of Jesus’ friends, Peter, wasn’t satisfied just watching Jesus walk on the water.  He wanted to walk on the water too. So he asked if Jesus would invite him to step out on the water..

Leader 2: Did it work?  Did Peter walk on the water?

Leader 1: It worked at first.  But then Peter began looking around, at the waves and the stormy sky, and he began to get frightened.  And once he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.

Leader 2: Uh oh!

Leader 1:  Jesus pulled Peter back up again out of the water, so he was safe.  But then Jesus told Peter and the other disciples something important - that they all needed to have greater faith.  

Leader 2: What does that mean?

Leader 1: It means believing and trusting in God.  Jesus told his disciples that, especially when they were frightened, they needed to focus on Christ -  to try to listen to what Christ was telling them, to know that Christ was always with them.  That way they could stay calm and do the right thing in any situation.

Leader 2: That’s like me listening to my whitewater instructor.

Leader 1: Right, because just like the instructor, God knows where we’re going, and God knows how to get us there.  Everything else is just a distraction!  


Teaching on Your Own:  See what I’ve got here?  It’s a life preserver/oar?  Do you know why I have it?  I went on a whitewater rafting trip this weekend.  Have you ever been whitewater rafting?  It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a little scary.  We had an instructor who was telling us what to do, but the first time we went down a falls we all freaked out a little - and we stopped listening to her.  She was telling us to keep paddling, but we stopped.  And you know what happened?  We got sucked up on the rocks.  So the instructor told us we needed to listen to her and do what she said - otherwise we were going to be spending a lot of time on the rocks.  Then she got out and pushed us off, and we were back in the game! At the next falls, what do you think happened?  It was still scary, but this time we all listened to the instructor.  We kept paddling the whole time, and we stayed afloat!  We had learned our lesson - even though we were scared,  we needed to stay focused on what the instructor was telling us.  That reminds me of our bible story today.  Jesus‘ friends were all on a boat, but Jesus had stayed behind on the shore.  It started getting stormy and the boat started rocking.  The disciples were afraid, but then they saw Jesus coming to the boat, walking on the water!  One of Jesus’ friends, Peter, wasn’t satisfied just watching Jesus walk on the water.  He wanted to walk on the water too. So he asked if Jesus would invite him to step out on the water.  Do you think that worked?  It did at first.  But then Peter began looking around, at the waves and the stormy sky, and he began to get frightened.  And once he took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.  Jesus pulled Peter back up again out of the water, so he was safe.  But then Jesus told Peter and the other disciples something important - that they all needed to have greater faith.   Does anyone know what it means to have faith?  It means believing and trusting in God.  Jesus told his disciples that, especially when they were frightened, they needed to focus on Christ -  to try to listen to what Christ was telling them, to know that Christ was always with them.  That way they could stay calm and do the right thing in any situation.  Like me listening to my whitewater instructor.  Because just like my instructor, God knows where we’re going, and God knows how to get us there.  Everything else is just a distraction!  


Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, for bringing us through this great adventure of life.  Sometimes it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it can get frightening, but we know you are with us all the time.  Help us to hear your voice always, and to follow your directions.  And thank you for rescuing us when we make a mistake!  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.


Follow-Up Lesson: A great way to follow up this children‘s sermon, in a classroom or home setting, is to help the kids make their own “faith binoculars.”  You might already have your own binoculars made, and show them to the kids asking, “What is the purpose of binoculars?“  It is to help us focus on something we really want to see.  Give them two rectangle pieces of poster-board or other sturdy paper.  Then invite them to think about how they can focus their attention on Christ. How do we learn to listen?  Prayer, reading the bible, singing together, worshipping in church together, mediating in silence, asking someone to pray for us?  Encourage them to cover their papers with either words or artwork representing these activities.   Once they’ve completed their art, have them roll up each piece of paper, to make a tube shape.  Staple or glue the tube closed.  Then attach the two tubes together to make binoculars.  Attach string as well, so they can hang the binoculars around their neck, safari-style.   Help them to think about times in their lives when they could use their “faith binoculars” to listen to God’s guidance - when they’re scared or angry, annoyed, etc.  What are the things that distract us from God?  What is our response to those distractions?