The Greatest Commandment
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Make heart-shaped sugar cookies and share half of each cookie. Talk about loving your neighbor as a way of showing love to God. [Note: 1st – 3rd graders visited this workshop.]
For scripture, objectives, and background - see above.
- Read the scripture for this lesson.
- Read and reflect on the overview material provided for this lesson.
- Gather the materials.
- Cookie sheets
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- table knives
- Slice-and-bake type sugar cookie dough, keep refrigerated until ready to use (one “roll” makes 12 large cookies- kids will be able to eat half and share half of one cookie)
- Bibles (for use with 3rd grade); one purple Adventure Bible
- “Props”: items that won’t actually get opened and used, but will be talked about: a box of baking soda, a bag of sugar, an egg carton (can be empty, no eggs are needed), and a bag of flour
- multi-colored decorating sprinkles
- Plastic sandwich bags
Before Start of Class:
- Preheat convection oven to 350. Turn on vent fan (switch to right of refrigerator).
- Wash one metal table.
- Put “props” on the metal table.
- Pre-slice the cookie dough into 24 slices per roll – slices of about 3/8”. (Works best to “square up” the roll before slicing— so end up with squares rather than circles.) Put slices back in refrigerator.
- On the cooking cart in the Social Hall place a stack of plates, the frosting, the sprinkles and the table knives.
- Bookmark the story in a purple Adventure Bible.
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Gather everyone around the tables in the Social Hall. Greet your students warmly, welcoming them to the Cooking Workshop. Introduce yourself and any other adults.
[Note: The Shepherd will quietly take attendance, etc. while you are starting your lesson.]
Say: Today we’ll be making cookies but first let’s begin with prayer.
Ask for any prayer requests. Ask if anyone would like to lead the group in prayer. Be prepared to say a prayer yourself, working in prayer requests. Use the Lord’s Prayer as the ending. A suggestion: “Dear God, Thank you for bringing us all here today. We are thankful for everything that you have created. You made all of us. Help us to understand that we are connected to each other. We know you want us to love and care for all of God’s people. Help us to see how best to do that. (End with everyone joining in on the Lord’s Prayer.) Amen.”
Dig- Main Content and Reflection:
- Ask: How many of you have learned all of the Ten Commandments?
- Did everyone earn their coupon for a free beverage at The World Peace Café by learning the Ten Commandments?
Say: We are continuing this challenge for you to earn a coupon by saying (or singing) the Ten Commandments to your Shepherd.
- Ask: Do you suppose that Jesus followed the Ten Commandments?
Say: Since they were God’s laws we can be pretty sure that Jesus followed the Ten Commandments.
- Ask: Who knows the story in the Bible where Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two commandments?
Say: Let’s look this story up.
- Ask: The Bible is divided into two sections, what are they? (Old & New Testament)
- If we want to read a story about Jesus, where would we find it – in the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible? (new testament)
- What do we call the first four books of the New Testament? (the Gospels)
Say: The word Gospel means “good news.” Jesus teaches us the good news about God’s love for us.
For 3rd graders (who visit in week 2):
Have kids find Matthew, chapter 22, verse 34 in their Bibles. [Remind them of the quick way to find the New Testament. Opening the Bible in middle lands you usually in Psalms. Taking just the back half and finding middle of that, gets you to beginning of NT.]
Ask students to tell you this story. Have them read verses 34-40 if they need to.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Hold a Bible open to Matthew.
Say: This story is from the New Testament of the Bible. It is from the book of Matthew. Jesus was teaching the people. There were certain Jewish religious leaders called Pharisees, who were more concerned with their own laws than God’s laws – the Ten Commandments. The Pharisees wanted to trick Jesus, so they asked him what they thought would be a hard question. One of them asked: What is the most important law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’
For all students:
Say: We are going to practice what is said in church after the scripture is read. Be ready to say “thanks be to God!” For the Word of God in scripture, for the Word of God among us, for the Word of God within us,
The class says: Thanks be to God!
- Ask: What was the question that the Pharisee asked Jesus?
Say: Jesus was being questioned about what the most important commandment was. Jesus was simplifying God’s ten laws. He summed it all up into two commandments. The first one was: Love God, loving him with all you’ve got (your heart and soul and mind). The second one was: love your neighbor as you love yourself. We call these two commandments the “Greatest Commandment”, because they are both about love.
Say: Let’s make cookies now and we can talk more while we bake.
Move into the kitchen.
Have everyone put on aprons, wash their hands, and gather around the metal table in the kitchen.
In the Kitchen:
Say: We’ve got all the ingredients here to make cookies (indicate the props).
Ask: What would happen if we didn’t have any baking soda? (the cookies wouldn’t rise)
What would happen if we didn’t have any eggs? (are the “glue” in the recipe)
Could we bake cookies without sugar? (wouldn’t be sweet)
Say: We need all these ingredients to make good cookies don’t we. Sometimes people say they love God but then there are other times when they act like they don’t love God. That’s kind of like missing an ingredient in cookie dough.
Say: We’re going to make cookies today from dough that’s already mixed and has all the ingredients we need. We’re going to put all of our love into our cookies.
Bring out the refrigerated, sliced cookie dough.
Say: Because we are talking about love, you may each make one large heart-shaped cookie.
Take 2 slices of dough. Demonstrate how to cut one slice in half using a table knife. Take the 2 halves and put them on two adjacent edges of the other slice. Mold the dough pieces together, making a heart shape.
Say: You are using two slices of dough to make one large cookie. That’s just like Jesus taking the two commandments (love God, and love your neighbor) and saying that they together were the greatest commandment.
Distribute table knifes and dough slices. Have kids work right on metal table.
Place the cookies on baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Write the students name on the parchment paper next to their cookie.
Bake at 350 degrees about 7 minutes. Place the Shepherd in charge of watching the cookies. Have the Shepherd bring the cookies out to the Social Hall when done.
While cookies are baking, have students wash hands and return to the tables in the Social Hall.
- Ask: What do you suppose Jesus meant by “love your neighbor as you love yourself?
- Did Jesus mean “neighbor” as the person who lives in the house or apartment next to yours?
- Who is our neighbor and how do we show them love? (allow all answers)
Say: So it’s important to love God and to love our neighbor. Jesus told us to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We find that Bible verse in Matthew, chapter 22, verses 37 and 39.
Say: Our neighbor could be anyone. To love our neighbors, means we help people who are in need.
- Ask: What are different ways to love our neighbor? (include various programs that the church is involved in both locally and globally)
Say: Now that our cookies are cooled, lets decorate them with frosting and sprinkles.
Pass out plates, table knives, frosting and supplies.
Have kids use clean table knives, frosting, and sprinkles to decorate their cookie.
If you need more time to wait for the cookies to cool:
Ask children to create a recipe for loving God. (For example: take 1 hour of worship, and mix in 1 hour of Sunday’s Cool. In a separate bowl add 3 tasks of kindness.
When the cookies are decorated:
Say: When you are all done, I want you to cut your cookie in half. You may eat half, but I want you to share the other half with someone else, preferably someone who is not in your family.
Offer sandwich bags for storing shared cookie halves.
Say: God loves you! In return, God asks us to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We show our love for God by showing love to our neighbors. This week, think about who your neighbor is, and how you can love them. Remember to share half your cookie with someone; share with them the story of the Greatest Commandment.
- Henley, Karen. “Family Time with God: Who's on First, Week 3: Wholehearted.” Christian Parenting Today. 2001. https://www.todayschristianwom...1/january/21.47.html(idea for ingredients missing)
- Martin, Lisa. “The Greatest Commandment: Cooking Lesson.” 2004. https://www.rotation.org/topic...2#295011598215946552
A lesson written by Carol Hulbert for First United Methodist Church
Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2008 First United Methodist Church, Ann Arbor, MI.
Permission to copy materials granted for non-commercial use provided credit is given and all cited references remain with this material
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