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Come & See

A dozen new ideas that'll capture everyone's attention for Jesus--the real center of Easter.

"Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel"-Matthew 15:29-31.

So much of Jesus' earthly ministry was at the Sea of Galilee. It was near this very sea that Jesus healed people, fed the multitudes, preached to the masses, and called and trained the disciples. Jesus chose the natural places where people of that time gathered to interact with and minister to them. And he chose the common, everyday things of their world to reveal who he was to them -- God made flesh!

In this special Easter section, you'll find 12 new ideas that also use everyday things to reveal Christ to the children God has called you to disciple. Many of these ideas will make everyone in your church want to "come and see" who this Jesus is.

Just as the sun rises every day over the Sea of Galilee, may the Son rise in ever-increasing glory and power in the lives of your volunteers, your children, and their families!

HEAVENLY ICE CREAM SOCIAL

For a volunteer appreciation dessert, we decorated our gym to look like heaven. We set a large throne in front of a glitter rainbow painted on a white flat sheet, and we set up tables like streets of gold using rolls of gold tablecloths and gold balloons. We decorated the walls with silver plastic tablecloths. We hung clusters of white balloons from the ceiling and made pearly gates from white balloons. We decorated all the tables with white balloons.

Our children's ministry staff dressed as angels and scooped ice cream. Then our guests made sundaes. This was a great way to say thank you and remind volunteers that their real reward is in heaven.

Beth Scherlacher
Greensboro, North Carolina

MYSTERY CROSS

For this craft, you'll need red plastic film, scissors, a red pencil, a lead pencil, and white paper.

Tell children to:

• Cut the film into the shape of a cross.
• On white paper, write the word "sin" with the red pencil. Then write "forgiveness" in lead pencil. Make sure the words fit within the borders of the cross.
• Cover "forgiveness" with red pencil dots or scribbles so the word can't be easily read.
• Slide the red film over the paper and watch the "sin" disappear and "forgiveness" shine through.

Explain to children how Jesus died to take our sin away and replace it with God's forgiveness.

Tina Vosberg
Bellvue, Colorado

PALM PRAYERS

Transform your Palm Sunday parade with this idea.

Have children cut out two sets of their handprints on green construction paper. Then have them write their grade on the thumb of each hand.

On the first Sunday of March, pass out these "palms" to everyone in your adult worship service. Have people write on each palm a name or cause they'd like prayed for.

Collect the palms and distribute them to the children in the appropriate grades. Then have children pray for these intentions.

Collect the palm prayers the week before Palm Sunday. Tape them to thin dowel rod "branches."

On Palm Sunday, have children carry these palms as part of your procession. They can place the palms in tall vases on either side of the altar before they sit with their families.

Julie Fisher
Rockford, Illinois

EASTER LILY

This project will work best with older kids.
For this craft, you'll need scissors, green and white 1½ inch wire-edged ribbon, and green and white floral wrapping tape. These are available from craft stores.
Before class, cut the ribbon into 8-inch lengths. Cut one end of each strip into a point so it looks like the shape of a ski.

Tell children to:

• Take six white strips (petals) and six green strips (leaves).

• Beginning with three white strips, hold the pointed tips up.

• Hold the bottom halves together as you arrange the three petals to point in different directions-in the 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock, and 8 o'clock positions. Then scrunch the bottom halves together in your fist to form a stem. Wrap the stem with white floral wrapping tape. Shape the petals by curling them outward and down with your fingers.

• Add the next three white strips to the stem of the previous petals, arranging the new petals to alternate with the previous petals-in the 2 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 10 o'clock positions. Scrunch the bottom halves to the stem. Wrap the stem with white floral wrapping tape. Shape the petals by curling them outward and down with your fingers.

• Take three green strips. Add each strip to the stem of the petals, arranging the three leaves to point in different directions. Bend the leaves outward, and wrap the stem with green floral wrapping tape.

• Repeat this process with the three remaining leaves. Wrap the stem tightly with green floral wrapping tape all the way to the end of the ribbons.

RoseAnne Sather
Greeley, Colorado

BELIEVE IN GOD BULLETIN BOARD

We created a springtime bulletin board during our adult worship service to bring children and adults together. Prior to our service, we created the bulletin board background and titled it "Jesus Brings New Life." We also cut out construction paper parts for flowers and butterflies, such as wings, petals, and leaves. We cut out one part for each person and inserted these construction paper parts into our church bulletins.

At the beginning of our service, we had people anonymously complete the sentence "I believe in God because..." on the construction paper parts. We played soft music as they placed their pieces in the offering plate. Once we collected the parts, we arranged them on the bulletin board. While the answers all ranged in complexity, the congregational faith statements pleased all who stopped to read them.

Cheryl Conklin
New Providence, New Jersey

EASTER ALL YEAR

Holy Week is packed full of special events that are vital for children's spiritual growth. Sometimes, however, these events run together with so much information to squeeze into too little Sunday school time. So while setting your annual calendar of events, why not plan to celebrate Easter once every two months?

Use down time when everyone could use a lift to throw a full-blown Easter Celebration-complete with an Easter egg hunt, jelly bean poems, and special skits. Send postcards so everyone can join the celebration. Be creative with your special ideas.

Children need to understand the Easter story and share it with others, so have children invite their friends to an Easter celebration in June. When Easter rolls around the following year, the children will better understand the complete and beautiful story from Palm Sunday to Easter resurrection.

Virginia Jared
Salem, New Jersey

REVERSE IT

We had a Reverse It night in KIDS church one evening to help illustrate that Jesus' resurrection turns everything around for people who believe.

We did everything in reverse, beginning with our closing prayer and altar time and ending with our upbeat songs that are usually at the beginning. The children wore their clothes backwards.

It was amazing how this simple idea gave a new energy to our service. Also, by having our prayer time at the beginning, we were able to spend more time praying without feeling rushed. What a beautiful way to begin a service. And we ended with a bang! This was an easy way to add variety to a service without a lot of extra time and money.

Try it. You'll see how simply going backward will move your service forward toward understanding Easter better.

Gretta Meeker
Siloam Springs, Arkansas

TREASURE MAP

At Easter, I create an authentic-looking treasure map. Then I send children outside with the map to find all the treasures I've hidden for them. I use items from the Easter story, such as spikes like those that were nailed in Jesus' hands and feet, real donkey fur, and a cup from Passover. I try to make it as real as possible. Then after all the treasures are found, we read Benjamin's Treasure Box: A Resurrection Story by Melody Carlson (Zondervan) about the Easter story. This is a great way to remind children of how real Easter is and what Jesus did for them. The best thing is, though, that kids love it.

Tina Hillyard
Battle Ground, Washington

Tips on making a treasure map:

You'll need ½ cup of cold coffee or tea, a sheet of white paper, a bowl, a hand-held hair dryer, colored pencils, and a little imagination.

First rip off all the outside edges of a white sheet of paper. Then crumple the paper into a tight ball. Place the ball of paper in a bowl, and pour coffee or tea over the paper. Let sit for about two minutes to give it color. Squeeze the excess liquid from the ball of paper; then carefully flatten out the paper on a table or countertop. Blow-dry with a hand-held dryer. When the paper is dry, draw your treasure map with colored pencils.

BIBLE FISH

You'll need an even number of large pre-cut paper fish shapes (at least one per child), a stapler, tissue paper, markers, construction paper, glue, sticker name tags, yarn, and various craft supplies.

You'll also need these portions of the Easter story printed on paper: Jesus' Arrest (Luke 22:47-54); Jesus before Pilate (Luke 23:1-7); Jesus before Herod (Luke 23:8-25); Simon bears the cross (Luke 23:26-32); the Crucifixion (Luke 23:33-49); Jesus' burial (Luke 23:50-56); the Resurrection (Luke 24:1-12); the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35); and the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53).

Have kids work with a partner. This can be another child or even a parent.

Tell children to:

• Staple both sides of your fish together and leave an opening to stuff the fish with tissue paper.
• Read your Bible passage and decide how you can decorate your fish to illustrate this part of Easter.
• Use different kinds of craft materials to decorate your fish.
• Sign the name tag and stick it on your fish so we'll know who did your great artwork.

Afterward, hang the fish with yarn from your classroom ceiling for everyone to enjoy.

Joy Gerhart
Reading, Pennsylvania

ROSE OF SHARON PARTY

• Theme: Sacrifice

• Preparation: You'll need the book The Little Rose of Sharon by Nancy Gurley (Chariot Victor Publications), one fresh rose, clear Con-Tact paper, and card stock cut into bookmark shapes.

• The Message: (Read the book to the children. Then have everyone sit in a circle. Pass the rose around and have each person remove one rose petal. Keep passing the rose around until all the petals are gone. What's left will be the stem with the leaves making the shape of a star.)

To sacrifice means to give up something. When we make sacrifices for God, whether they're big or small, such as being nice to a little brother or sister or picking up trash, we shine like stars.

God sacrificed his only son for us. What sacrifices have you made for God? What have you given up? (Kids may say watching television, sleeping in on Sunday mornings, or giving their money.)

(After this devotion, kids can make bookmarks with the rose petals and use clear Con-Tact paper to laminate the bookmarks. Or kids could deliver roses to shut-ins from your church as an act of sacrificing their time.)

Michelle Wolf
Rock Hill, South Carolina

AN EASTER STORY

• The Scene: Three children with a Bible discussing the true meaning of Easter.

• The Characters: Three children, the Easter Bunny, the Teacher, Jesus on a stick pony, two children with palm branches, Jesus carrying a large cross, a Roman soldier with a "whip," and a child in robes.

(Easter Bunny enters stage.)

Easter Bunny: Hey! It's me! Happy Easter!

Child 1: Yeah, whatever. (Continues talking to the others.)

Easter Bunny: (Jumps around excitedly to get their attention again.) Hey! Hey! It's me! Aren't you excited?

Child 2: (sarcastically) Oh...yeah...sure. We're real excited.

Easter Bunny: (Walks over and listens in on the conversation to see what's going on for a few moments before speaking.) What are you guys talking about anyway?

Child 3: We're talking about Easter!

Easter Bunny: Yeah! That's what I've been trying to tell you! I'm all about Easter-and I'm here! (All the children laugh; the Easter bunny looks confused.)

Easter Bunny: Why aren't you guys excited to see me?

Child 1: Oh! It's not that we're not excited to see you. Of course we're excited to see you. It's just that you're not really what Easter is all about.

Easter Bunny: (perplexed) I'm not?

Child 2: No! You're not! And that's what we were just talking about!

Child 3: (Shows the Easter Bunny an open Bible.) It's all right here! And we were just reading about how the disciples got the greatest surprise ever on that first Easter morning.

Easter Bunny: (excitedly) Let me guess! Let me guess! (Stops to ponder.) I know! I know! A super-sized, giant, extravagant Easter basket that's this high (holds hand up) and filled with all kinds of candy!
(Looks at kids and realizes he's way off.) No?

All Children: No!

Child 1: There's so much more!

Child 2: Now don't get us wrong...we like candy. It's just that if that's all Easter is about, it's a pretty empty holiday.

Easter Bunny: If it's not about me and it's not about candy, then I'm lost.

Child 3: Exactly!

Child 2: And that's what Easter is all about!

Child 3: Easter is about Jesus rising from the dead! (Easter Bunny looks surprised but intrigued.)

Child 3: And Jesus came to earth to "seek and save the lost."

Child 2: (Puts his arm around the Easter Bunny.) Let's go talk about this some more while our teacher tells all these kids more about the real meaning of Easter.
(Everyone exits the stage. Afterward, the Teacher tells children about the biblical account of Easter. As each scene is mentioned, characters pantomime the scene.)

Teacher: (Enters the stage. As the Teacher talks, two children enter the stage and wave palm branches. They're followed by a child dressed as Jesus and riding a stick pony.) It was really incredible! On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Everyone went crazy, praising Jesus and waving palm branches to honor him.
Teacher: (As the Teacher talks, two children enter the stage. One is dressed as Jesus and carries the cross on his back. The other is dressed as a Roman soldier and pretends to whip Jesus.) The soldiers beat Jesus and put a crown of thorns on his head. The soldiers made Jesus carry his cross to the place where he would die.

Teacher: (As the Teacher talks, the soldier mocks Jesus and pretends to nail him to the cross. Jesus "dies.") Jesus hung on the cross while the soldiers mocked him. Finally, he died on the cross and was taken down to be buried.

Teacher: (As the Teacher talks, a child dressed in a robe enters and lays Jesus on the floor. When the teacher says that he arose, Jesus jumps up.) But that's not the end of the story! They buried Jesus in a tomb, and three days later he arose! He came back to life! (Everyone cheers!)

Debbie Hardy
Conowingo, Maryland

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