Because in the mystery of the Word made flesh, you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Book of Common Prayer, page 378)
Accept the light we have received and shine it forth! It is not about shining the light in other’s faces, blinding them, but holding the light in open hands.
Second Sunday After Epiphany
A Notation for This Week’s Gospel
The transfer of power: “Behold the Lamb of God!” exclaims John the Baptist. He now knows for sure that this man that he has baptized (his cousin) is the long expected Messiah. John is no longer the lone voice crying in the wilderness. This Jesus is the light to the nations.
Theme: Following the Light
Lesson Plan for Older Children
Before Class: As a means of helping the children grasp the meaning from today’s passage, the suggestion is that they “cover” the story as television reporters. In addition to the reporter, they will need John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Andrew. If you have access to a tape recorder, bring it. It would be helpful to download copies of the passage for each child and highlight each voice. One site is: www.devotions.net/bible/00bible.htm . There are other sites. Two options are offered. If you have time, and choose to do so, there is an activity associated with the second of the Beatitudes as there will not be time to do the Beatitudes justice in just the one session where they are the scripture passage (Fourth Sunday after Epiphany). If you are going to do this option, copy the second Beatitude (Matthew 5:4) in large letters on a large sheet of paper: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Beginning: Tell the class that we are going to do a newscast on today’s story, so as we read the passage, we can be thinking of ways to portray the story. If you have a tape recorder, their production could be taped and listened to. Or, they can decide to do a “live” television program which you will watch.
Opening Prayer: “Thank you, God, for John the Baptist who understood his job and who willingly passed it on to Jesus. Amen.”
The Story: John 1: 29-42 .You will need volunteers to read the parts of the narrator: verses 29a, 32a, 35-36a, 37-38a, 39a, 39c-41a, 41c-42a, 42c; the part of John the Baptist: 29b-31, 32b-34, 36b; the part of Jesus: 38b, 39b, 42b; and Peter or Andrew: 38c, 41b.
Why do you think John the Baptist referred to Jesus as The Lamb of God? (The Hebrew people understood the significance of a lamb as a sacrifice. John knew that Jesus was not going to go roaring around like a lion, that he was approachable, and they he would probably eventually be killed.)
How might John have explained what happened at the Baptism of Jesus (verses 32-34) to a reporter who was trying to understand? (It was clearly an “Ah HA!” moment for John and not one everyone would understand.)
Who are the two disciples of John who show up just as Jesus walked by? (Verse 35-36, Simon and Andrew.)
What do they decide to do when they meet Jesus? (They follow him.)
Why do you think Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas? (Cephas means rock. Jesus saw his strength.)
Activity: Ask the children to decide who will play which part, making sure there is also at least one reporter. The children can decide the format of the show (news, or some form of an interview show). Offer to be a resource person but ask them to produce and perform the show which you will watch.
Option: If you have taped the newscast, play it so the children can hear their work.
Getting Closure: We cannot follow Jesus exactly the way Andrew and Peter did — we cannot walk along beside them. What is involved in “following” Jesus for us here now? What do we think Jesus is calling us to do? (If the children cannot articulate this, you could begin with offering an understanding of your own: staying close to Jesus through prayer, noticing things I can do that Jesus would probably want me to do, etc.)
Option: If the children came up with their own translation of the word “Beatitudes” use that as you show the children the second one: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
What would be some other words for “mourn?” (Sad about something they no longer have: could be a death, a friend who moves away or stops being your friend, something you used to be able to do, but cannot do anymore.)
If “comforted” doesn’t mean that all the sadness goes away, what might Jesus mean by it? (It is sometimes easier to listen for Jesus when we are not full of happiness and full of ourselves.)
How might this group paraphrase this Beatitude? (Write down what they say, and incorporate it into the closing prayer, instead of what is provided in this lesson.)
Closing Prayer: “Thank you, God, that you sent Jesus to work with ordinary people just like us to show us how to follow Jesus. Amen.”