Use this Sunday school lesson to help elementary-age kids deal with grief.
1. Seasons— Put a mitten, sunscreen, umbrella, kite, sunglasses, rake, leaf, and a package of hot chocolate in a paper sack.
*Say: I’m going to show you an object and you tell me which season of the year it reminds you of. (Go through all the items, except for the leaf.) Read aloud Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
*Say: Just as there are different seasons of the year, there’s a time for everything. These verses say there is a time to be born and a time to die. Everything that is born lives and eventually dies. What happens to this leaf in the fall? Why has it fallen? When someone we love dies, we’re usually very sad. God can help us while we grieve over someone’s death.
2. A Look at God’s Book *Say: Jesus had a friend named Lazarus who died. This made Jesus very sad. In John 11:35, the Bible says that Jesus cried. This is the only time in the Bible that it says Jesus cried.
Dress up in biblical attire like Jesus. Or have a young person or adult do so. In costume, tell the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-46. Involve children by allowing them to interview Jesus. Have the storyteller “Jesus” talk about how he felt when his friend died and about the hope we have because Jesus came to die for our sins.
*Say: How do you think Lazarus felt? Mary? Martha? How would you have felt if your brother had died? if Jesus had brought your brother back to life? Have you ever had someone close to you die? Explain. How can Jesus help us when we’re sad?
3. Hopeful Give each child one slip of paper, a pencil, and a yellow balloon. Have children each write on their piece of paper something that gives them hope when they’re sad. Explain that hope is the ability to look forward to something better when we’re hurting. Have kids each slip their paper into their balloon, blow up the balloon, and tie it off. Put all the balloons in a pile in the middle of a circle.
*Say: Pick out one balloon. On the count of three, sit on your balloon and pop it. 1-2-3 POP! Go around the circle and have each child read the message of hope on their slip. Read aloud John 3:16.
*Say: Jesus promises to give eternal life to people who choose to follow him. We may be sad when people die, but we can have hope that if they followed Jesus, they’re in heaven with him.
4. Snack-Let the children put together the snack in “Food for Thought.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT You’ll need: Heat-and-serve bread sticks, no-stick cooking spray, sugar, cinnamon, a knife, and cookie sheets.
Directions: *Say: When we’re sad, we can remember that Jesus is always with us! The cross helps us think about him when we’re sad because someone has died. Give each child one and a half bread sticks. Have children pinch the long and the short pieces together to form a cross. Have the children sprinkle the top of the cross with sugar and cinnamon. Spray a cookie sheet with no-stick spray. Place crosses on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Then enjoy.
Elaine Friedrich is a director of elementary ministries in Texas.
Excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine. Subscribe today!