What a wonderful opportunity to again talk about the disciples’ experience with having Jesus right beside them and then having to learn to live with him in a completely different way. The children have not witnessed this event of course, but most know what it feels like to be left or abandoned-even temporarily-by someone they love- or to feel afraid of what that might be like. For modern Christians whom have never had the joy of having Jesus physically with us, it takes some thinking to imagine what that must have been like, and then to have it taken away.
In addition to discussing the story itself, this Sunday is a good time to talk about the idea that feelings are not always the truth of what is really happening. When bad things happen we may feel abandoned by God, but that is not the truth. God never abandons. So what do we do when we have these feelings and fears? What did the disciples do? They did what Jesus told them to do. They waited and prayed and obeyed Jesus’ commands until they would be with Jesus again in heaven. As in the sermon last Sunday, they did the ordinary things of living as they waited on God. They chose a replacement for Judas. They went on with life, holding onto each other and to prayer.
I hope that if you’re in a room where the children have access to Godly Play materials, that after the story is shared, you’ll try letting the children select something to bring to the circle that helps tell the story. Those connections can be so meaningful.
Here are the wondering questions for Sunday.
1. I wonder what is your favorite part of today’s story.
2. I wonder if you’ve ever been left behind. I wonder how that feels.
3. Before Jesus disappeared he told the disciples that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. I wonder what they thought would happen. I wonder what they thought the Holy Spirit was. I wonder what you think the Holy Spirit is.
4. When Jesus vanished, I wonder if he was really gone. I wonder how he was still with the disciples.
5. I wonder where you are in this story. I wonder what part of this story is about you?
Ideas for Our Gift to God Time
1.Today would be a great time for children to put all the Eastertide stories together in one project. They could do this as a class with a mural, with pairs of children working on a single story of this series, or they could put it together in a little booklet like the one below.
For the example I made here I took 12″ x18″ pieces of construction paper from the paper closet, cut each of them into 3 long strips of 4″x 18″ and folded each accordion-style into 6 sections.
I went ahead and labeled each section with the story title: Known at the empty tomb, Known on a walk and at the inn, Known by his scars, Known at Breakfast, Known at the Great Commission, and Known on the hillside. You could also add where each scripture is found in the Bible. Then children can illustrate each block.
You don’t need a kit to make this- just a solo cup and string and paper. It would be much more meaningful for the children to make it their own way, drawing their own Jesus and constructing it as they want, like the children here have done. (Scroll down and see below.)
3. Why not show the children images that artists have created showing the ascension and ask them to do their own watercolors or drawings of how they think it might have happened? It’s a mystery, so it would be interesting to see how they picture it. Find artwork to share with the children on my Pinterest page of ascension artwork here.
See some more art response ideas on my Pinterest page, here.
Enjoy the story!