Adventures with Peter: A New Vision
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will act out the story. Photographs will be taken of each scene to add to the Adventure with Peter Photo Storybook begun last month.
This was part of a summer series on Peter. In previous rotations we studied Peter's denial, his restoration by Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and Peter's healing of a lame man at the Temple gate. In this rotation we continued our study of Peter's transformation with the story of Peter's vision and his meeting with the Roman Centurion, Cornelius.
Acts 10 (page 363-364 Little Kids' Adventure Bible)
“The Story of Cornelius” (page 374-376 Little Kids’ Adventure Bible)
"God, A Roman and a Jew," The Picture Bible (pages 708-710)
Bible Background is found in the Bible Background forum.
God's love and salvation is for everyone! God pours out the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles!
Objectives and Life Application:
- Children will locate the story in the Bible.
- Children will define Acts as a New Testament book of history.
- Children will retell the story in their own words.
- Children will discuss Jewish dietary laws and the implication for the early church.
- Children will identify Pentecost as the day God's gift of the Holy Spirit came to the Jewish believers.
- Children will identify Cornelius as a Gentile and a Roman centurion.
- Children will define: Gentile, centurion.
- Children will locate Joppa, Jerusalem and Caesarea on the map.
- Children will understand that God desires everyone to be saved.
- Children will understand that salvation comes through belief and trust in Jesus Christ.
- Children will memorize Acts 10:34.
Advanced Preparations/Room Set Up:
- Review background information and lesson.
- Gather necessary props for each scene (see suggestions in lesson below).
- Copy the script for the older age group.
- Make signs for each scene.
- Props and costumes for the scenes below.
- Digital Camera
- Copy of script (for older age group -- teacher will serve as narrator for younger age group)
- Signs for each scene -- see below
- Large white sheet
- Variety of stuffed animals, including animals considered unclean (pig, camel, snake, crab, insects, rabbit, eagle, frog)
Important Note for Drama Workshop Leaders:
- You may wish to organize costumes or puppets ahead of time to cut down on a flurry of activity and possible hurt feelings. Have props ready ahead of time. This is especially important for the younger children. The older children often are very creative with props and costumes.
- You will want to limit the amount of time the children are allowed to dress-up. (They can easily spend the entire class time selecting costumes!)
- Be sure that all children are involved in some way. Some children are intimidated by the prospect of being on a stage. Offer them alternative roles as well as the children who do not have main parts. They can always be “sound effects” or “crowds” or stagehands to help change scenery, or video camera operators (for the older children). Remember as well that children can draw the backdrop for the drama on the blackboard or videotape the plays (older children).
- To eliminate competition, you may wish to place the names of characters in a hat and have children choose their parts.
- Be sure to explain the activity to the children and ask for questions.
- Even though videotaping the activities may seem unnecessary, videotaping seems to encourage better behavior from the children.
- Have fun and make this fun for the children!
- The purpose of the drama workshop is not to create a polished performance. Through the activity, children will explore the story in depth. Feel free to pause and discuss details as they arise, add more information (using the Background information and resources) and answer questions along the way.
- Have children draw a large flat-roofed house on the chalkboard.
Welcome the children and take time for introductions. Tell the children that today you will be learning about another of Peter's adventures -- when he learned to be friends with people who were different.
“Dear God, Thank you for this day and for the amazing stories in the Bible that teach us about you. AMEN.”
Important Teacher Notes:
Each workshop includes the Bible story. One of our primary goals is to improve the children’s Bible literacy! If children did not bring their Bibles from home, use the classroom Bibles. Shepherds should help the children locate the stories. Use the handout “Helping Children Learn to Use their Bibles” and the Background Information to help you introduce the story.
Remember that as the rotation progresses; the children will become more familiar with the story. When this happens, allow the children to tell you what they know. The children should still locate the story in their Bibles every week. Use the bold headings in their Bibles to guide your discussion. You may want to review some of the Bible notes as well. Be sure to fill in any missing information and add additional details using the Background Information to help you. One of the greatest advantages of this model is that children who come regularly learn the story in great depth.
Each lesson contains more Background Information and discussion questions than can be used in one session. Remember, children are studying this story for four weeks! Be sure to follow the time guidelines and leave ample time for the activity.
Last month we learned that on a special day called Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to Peter and his friends. What do you remember about the story? (Holy Spirit came like flames of fire and the sound of rushing wind; they spoke in other languages, but could be understood; Peter preached a bold sermon and 3000 people believed in Jesus; Peter was filled with power and courage and even healed a man who could not walk.
This month we are going to learn that the Holy Spirit was not just for the Jewish believers. God had a bigger plan! The Holy Spirit was also for the Gentiles -- the people who were not Jews. This was a very different idea that was not at all what Peter expected. Let's learn more about it.
Bible Study - Grades 1-3
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Pass out The Picture Bible to each pair of children. Help them locate page 708. Read "God, A Roman and a Jew," on pages 708-710 as the children follow along. (The Picture Bible is written in comic book form. The pictures should help the children visualize the story.)
Next help the find "The Story of Cornelius" on page 374-376 of the Little Kids' Adventure Bible. Paraphrase
the story, noting the blue sub-titles.
Bible Study - Grades 4-6
Ask: Where in the Bible would we find a story about Peter and the early church? (Acts, New Testament)
Today’s story is found in the book of Acts. Acts is the only book of history in the New Testament.
Have the children locate Acts 10 in their Bibles. Assign volunteers to read the following as the other children follow along in their Bibles:
- Cornelius Calls for Peter Acts 10:1-8
- Peter's Vision Acts 10:9-16
- Acts 10:17-23
- Peter at Cornelius's House Acts 10:24-29
- Acts 10:30-33
- Acts 10:34-43
- Acts 10:44-48
Review the following Bible note with the children:
Did you Know? “Why did God send Peter a vision?" (page 1211)
- Why was Peter surprised that God told him to kill and eat the animals in his vision? (because Jewish food laws forbid eating certain foods)
- Why did God give Peter this strange vision? (to show him that he loved everyone and that the gospel message was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews -- explain meaning of Gentile)
- What is a centurion? (a Roman soldier in charge of at least 100 men)
- What happened when Peter went to visit Cornelius? (he told him about Jesus and the Holy Spirit filled Cornelius and his family)
- What did Peter do to Cornelius and his family? (baptized them)
- What happened later when Peter returned to his Jewish friends? (they were upset to hear that Peter had stayed with a Gentile)
- How did Peter and Cornelius both do a brave thing? (it is hard to be with people who are different, Peter might have been afraid of a Roman soldier, Romans might have made fun of Cornelius for believing in God)
- What do you think it was like for Peter to adjust his thinking in this way?
- What did Peter learn about God from this experience?
Review the verse with the children at this time.
"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism." Acts 10:34
- What does it mean to show favoritism?
- What does it mean that God does not show favoritism?
- What was the lesson Peter learned from his vision? (God's plan is for everyone -- not just the Jewish people)
*Note if the topic of circumcision comes up -- explain that this is something Jewish people did to set themselves apart from other people.
Drama - A New Vision!
Narrator, Peter, Cornelius, messengers, Cornelius' family members, angel, voice of God, four people to lower the sheet to the stage, sign holders for photos.
- Quickly assign parts and get into costume.
- Children who may not wish to have speaking parts can move props and hold signs.
- Read through the script pausing to allow children to act it out. The script follows the text of Acts 10 very closely. Plan to pause for discussion or to answer questions. The goal is deeper understanding of the story, not a polished performance.
- At the end of each scene, pause and take a still photograph that includes the Scene Sign for the Adventures with Peter storybook.
Option for Younger Children:
Narrate the entire script allowing the children to act out in between the narration. Encourage them to repeat some of the shorter lines in the script.
The last 10 minutes should be reserved for Journal and Reflection time. This is an opportunity for processing and reflection about what the children have learned.
Grades 1-3: Draw a picture of Peter with Cornelius.
Grades 4-6: What did you learn about God from this story?
Encourage the children to come back next week for another workshop, and to invite their friends. Remind the children of one word or concept from today’s session. Holy Spirit, Christian, Gentile, centurion are some possibilities. Ask for prayer requests and pray together.
Help Shepherd collect Journals and nametags and put away. Gather all the props and costumes and put them away.
Script: A New Vision!
Scene 1: An Angel Visits Cornelius
Narrator: Now in the city of Caesarea, there lived a Roman centurion called Cornelius. Even though he was a Gentile, he believed in the one, true God instead of many false gods. He was a kind man and gave generously to the poor. He was well-liked and respected by the Jews in that city.
One day as Cornelius was praying, he had an amazing vision! An angel appeared before him!
Cornelius: (kneels and prays)
Cornelius: (acts frightened) “What is it, Lord?”
Angel: I have seen your prayers and gifts for the poor. You are a good and faithful man. Now send men to the city of Joppa. Tell them to bring back a man named Simon Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, in a house by the sea.
Cornelius: (beckons two servants to come to him)
You two, go with my soldier to Joppa and find a man named Simon, called Peter, who is staying at the house of Simon the tanner, near the sea. God has sent an angel to tell me to send for this man who will give me a message from the true and living God.
Scene 2: Peter has a Vision
Narrator: Meanwhile, in Joppa Peter is waiting for lunch to be finished.
Peter: Oh, I’m hungry; I can hardly wait for lunch. I think I’ll pray up here on the roof for a little while.
(He kneels down to pray on the rooftop.)
Narrator: Now rooftops in Bible times were flat with outside stairways, so it was a good, quiet and private place to pray. As Peter is praying, his eyes open, and he sees a sheet lowered by its four corners from heaven. The sheet contains all kind of animals that Jewish people are forbidden to eat, such as: clams and lobsters, pigs, rabbits, badgers, eagles or other birds of prey, snakes, spiders, lizards, and frogs. The voice of God speaks to Peter telling him to, "Get up, kill and eat."
Voice of God: Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.
Peter: Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean. It's against your law!
Voice of God: Peter, do not call anything impure that God has made clean.
Narrator: Three times this is repeated! And then as suddenly as it came, the sheet full of animals leaves. Peter is very confused. He wonders what this vision could possibly mean.
Peter: Wow…. That was very strange…. I wonder what this could possibly mean….
Narrator: While Peter pondered his strange vision, he heard the voice of God speak to him again.
Voice of God: Peter, three men are looking for you. Go downstairs and talk with them. Don't be afraid to go with them because I have sent them here to find you.
Peter: (gets up and goes to greet the men at the door)
I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?
Messenger: We have come from Cornelius, a centurion who lives in Caesarea. He is a righteous man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. An angel told him to bring you to his house so he could hear what you have to say.
Narrator: Now it was obvious that these messengers were not Jewish -- they were Gentiles. Peter was not supposed to talk or associate with Gentiles -- it was against Jewish law. But instead, Peter invited the men to come in and stay the night because it was too late to travel that day.
Peter: Please come in. You can rest here for the night, and we can leave in the morning.
Scene 3: Peter visits Cornelius' House
Narrator: The next day Peter and the messengers began the long trip to Caesarea. Peter must have wondered what would happen when he arrived at Cornelius' house. Romans were not known for being friends to Jews. Was it a trap? Would Peter be arrested….or worse? The next day, they finally arrived at Cornelius' house. Cornelius had invited his family and close friends to be there to meet with Peter. Cornelius ran out to greet Peter and knelt down in front of him.
(Cornelius kneels before Peter)
Peter: Please don't bow down to me. I am just a man, like you.
Narrator: Peter entered the house and saw all the people gathered there. He really wasn't sure exactly why he was here. He knew that as a Jew he shouldn't be here - in the house of a Gentile. It just wasn't done. Peter wasn't sure what to say, but finally he began….
Peter: You know that it is against our law for a Jew to be friends with a Gentile or visit in his house. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So, when your messengers came for me, I came with them. Why did you send for me?
Narrator: Cornelius answered Peter, explaining all about his vision and how the angel had told him to send messengers to Joppa and bring Peter back to his house.
Cornelius: And so I sent for you immediately. Then I gathered all my friends and family here so that we can listen to what the Lord has commanded you to tell us.
Narrator: It was all beginning to make sense to Peter… his strange vision of unclean animals that God was now calling clean, Gentile messengers to Joppa and now Peter…. right here inside a Gentile's house -- a Roman Centurion to boot!
Peter: I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism. He accepts people from every nation who love him and want to do what is right.
Narrator: And Peter continued. He told Cornelius and his friends and family all about Jesus who was sent by God. He told them that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness from sin.
Narrator: And while Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The Gentiles were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in different languages and praising God. Peter and his Jewish friends were astonished! This was the same thing that had happened at Pentecost to the Jewish believers! It was clear to them that the Holy Spirit was with the Gentiles, too! How could this be? They had always believed that God DID play favorites -- and that God was for the Jews only…. Not the Gentiles! And certainly not a Roman soldier!
It was a difficult thing for Peter to understand, but the evidence was right there in front of him. AND he had heard the voice of God explaining it. AND he was filled with the Holy Spirit who teaches us about the things of God.
Peter: It is clear that these people have received the Holy Spirit, just as we have! Can anyone keep them from being baptized?
Narrator: And because it was obvious that the Gentiles had also received the Holy Spirit, Peter ordered that Cornelius and his family and friends be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Then Cornelius asked Peter and his friends to stay with him and to tell them more about Jesus. And so they did.
Scene 4 - Peter in Jerusalem
Narrator: Word spread quickly about what Peter had done -- staying with Gentiles, eating with them and even baptizing them! How could this be? Peter was a good Jew who knew the importance of their rules. And so when Peter was in Jerusalem next, they met with him to ask him about the rumors they had heard.
Apostles: What is this we hear about you visiting Gentiles and eating with them?
Peter: It's true. I did that, but it is not as you think.
Narrator: And so Peter explained everything to the other apostles…. About his vision and Cornelius' vision and God's voice telling him to eat the unclean animals and then the most amazing part of all…. How the Holy Spirit came upon all the Gentiles in that room, just as had happened to them at Pentecost.
Peter: So, if God gave the Gentiles the same gift as us, who am I to think that I could oppose God?
Narrator: After hearing Peter's story, the apostles were amazed as well. They had no further objections and they praised God, saying….
Apostles: So… God has given eternal life to the Gentiles, too! It's true! God loves everyone and wants everyone to be saved! Praise God!
The End…. For now!
A lesson written by Jaymie Derden from: State Street UMC – G.R.E.A.T. AdventureBristol, VA
This lesson created and copyrighted by State Street UMC, Bristol, VA, 2009. Permission granted for non-commercial, local church use, provided credit is give to the source.
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