i can see why you're stumped. It's an odd excerpt for teaching kids. IMO, that's the problem with the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday School. Being from John does not help! (He always makes Jesus sounds cryptic.)
First thing I'd do is expand the reading for more context. Add verses 25-26 so you can see what Jesus is CONTRASTING: those who listen versus those who don't. GOOD passage for 5th-8th, don't you think
--> 25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Create demonstration games that illustrate:
Listening v not listening,
Hearing v Not paying attention
"Follow my directions" v not listening games.
This brings to mind the ol' "blindfold walk" where students must listen to the one giving the 'right' instructions to navigate the room, and TUNE OUT those giving the wrong instructions.
Play the Can You Snatch a Pebble from My Hand game as a memory hook for verse 29. Video of pebble snatching game: http://youtu.be/bd7q5sjiwi0
Pam, You've probably already solved your problem with this piece, but I can never resist the chance to tell the Good Shepherd parable. Clearly, it is much more explicit in the verses at the beginning of the chapter referenced here. But I am so enamored of the Godly Play script and way of storytelling for the Good Shepherd that I would make any excuse to use it.
I recognize that the Godly Play way of storytelling requires both a leader and students who have the patience to get into this quiet tempo of storytelling. This is almost surely best acquired by beginning at the beginning and introducing Godly Play carefully the way it was designed to be introduced. But I think it's irresistibly beautiful, and because of the way it invites children into the story, it helps them make their own discoveries about the Good Shepherd. Life application at its very best.
There's a 19 minute video of a master storyteller leading this on youtube here. Even if you can't use it, it might influence the way you talk about the Shepherd and following his voice. The juxtaposition of the Good Shepherd with the 23rd Psalm is stunningly well done, I think. For me, this way of storytelling unlocks "awe" in a powerful, unforgettable way.
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