The following is taken from our church school lesson this morning at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Our goal for the lesson is to emphasize the relationship between baptism and covenant and the way in which Jesus’ baptism models both our covenant and the historical covenant of God with the people of Israel. During the reading students were invited at various points to come forward and draw a piece of the scene from this week’s gospel reading in Matthew. Then after this “reenactment,” students were asked to cut out doves from a worksheet and write on them their own promises to God. We specifically asked them to think of ways they could serve one another, gifts and talents they could share with the church, and ways they could love their neighbors as themselves.
One: A long time ago, our people lived in a land called Egypt.
Two: For a while, they lived there because they wanted to. But then Pharaoh, the Egyptian King, decided there were too many of us.
Three: So the Egyptians made us into slaves.
One: But then this guy named Moses showed up out of the desert.
Two: He had a long beard and he did a lot of crazy stuff like make the sky go dark and make every frog in the Nile River show up in Pharaoh’s house.
Three: And even though Pharaoh didn’t want to, he eventually let our people go.
One: When we went out into the desert, the first thing we did was make a promise to love God and love one another.
Two: It took us a long time, but 40 years later we made it to our homeland.
Three: We crossed over the River Jordan, then we made the same promise again: that we would love God and love our neighbors.
One: We didn’t always keep that promise. Like everyone, we were good sometimes and not so good other times. Can you relate to that?
[Pause: Student is selected to come draw water on the bottom of the poster board]
One: Well… a long time went by.
Two: And then this guy John showed up in the desert.
Three: He had a long beard and did some crazy stuff like eat bugs for breakfast.
One: And he called people to come to him and be baptized in the Jordan River.
Two: That was the same river where we made our promise to God all those many years before.
Three: When people came to John to be baptized, he asked them to renew their promise to love God and their neighbors.
One: And then John would dunk them in the river as a symbol of that promise.
[Pause: Student is invited to come draw some clouds on the poster board]
Two: One day, while we were watching John in the river, another person showed up. We didn’t know who he was at the time, but then we heard John refer to him as “Jesus.”
Three: Jesus wanted John to baptize him. John wasn’t sure at first. He was really hesitant, tried to talk Jesus out of it for a while.
One: We were confused, we’d never seen anything like this before.
Two: But finally, John agreed to baptize Jesus.
Three: When he did, something happened that we had never seen before.
One: It was crazy! The sky opened up and these rays of light came down from heaven.
Two: Then something that looked like a dove, only it wasn’t quite a dove, came down out of the sky toward John and Jesus. And then it was gone.
[Pause: Student is invited to come draw rays of light through some of the clouds]
Three: We knew that this had to be God! God was telling us there was something special about this moment.
One: And then we were reminded of what John always said to people: “The kingdom of heaven is near.”
Two: John would say that whenever he invited people to renew their promise to love God and love one another.
Three: And now we understood how important those promises were!
[Students invited to make doves with their own promises on them.]