Matthew 5:3–11, Luke 6:20–22.
In addition to these public Beatitude lessons and ideas below, be sure to visit our 
Writing Team's Beatitudes lesson set whose lesson summaries and Bible background are open to all. Our extra creative and detailed Writing Team lesson sets are written by and for supporting members. 

Editor's Note:

Rotation.org is pleased to present the following resource from two renown curriculum writers and Rotation fans:

 

Teaching the Beatitudes

 

An Eleven Part Series:

 

by:  Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

 

Summary Each article below lists 12 workshops, with two suggestions for each each workshop. 

 

Offering a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus 

 

These articles are are part of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary.

 

Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 

 

 

Quick links to each article found below in this forum:

 

ARTICLE 1  -  An Overview of The Sermon On The Mount (below).

ARTICLE 2  -  An Overview of The Beatitudes.

ARTICLE 3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

ARTICLE 4  -  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

ARTICLE 5  -  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

ARTICLE 6  -  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

ARTICLE 7  -  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

ARTICLE 8  -  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

ARTICLE 9  -  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

ARTICLE 10 - Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

ARTICLE 11  - An Summary of The Sermon On The Mount.

 

 

Two ideas each for each of the following workshops (per article) are

  •  Architecture
  • Art
  • Banners/Textiles
  • Creative Writing
  • Culinary
  • Dance/Gesture/Movement
  • Drama
  • Games
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Puppetry
  • Storytelling

 

[Moderator added above summary and added formatting (bolding, lines, consistency) of each article below for ease of reading.  Also added quick links to each article.]

 




 

The Beatitudes:

 

An Overview of the Sermon on the Mount:

 

Matthew 5 - 7

 

Article one of eleven part series:

 

by:  Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth,

and adult classes.

 



Architecture

Construct a diorama, a scene in a shoebox, to depict the topography of the hillside where Jesus sat down to teach his disciples.

Research the history and information on the Church of the Beatitudes in Galilee, constructed on the believed site of the actual Sermon on the Mount. Interview church members who have traveled to Israel and visited the site, if possible.

 


Art

Look for examples of stained glass windows that depict the Scripture passage known as the Sermon on the Mount. Study the differences found in their designs based on time period, culture, and artist.

Recreate the “crowd” that followed Jesus by using a body tracing activity. Have partners outline each other on long sheets of butcher paper or newsprint. Add faces, clothing, and other details; then invite participants to “put themselves in the crowd” as they recreate the scene of the Sermon on the Mount on the wall of the classroom.


Banners/Textiles

 

Create a heart with ribbon, labeling the materials used with important facts regarding the Sermon on the Mount. Be sure to include the who, what, when, where, and why of the story. Cut a heart shape from cardboard and glue the labeled strips of ribbon to the front. Add a ribbon, string, or yarn hanger at the top. Use the heart as reminder of the importance of responding to Jesus’ words with an attitude of the heart, not as a requirement of the law.


Design a pastoral stole with phrases from the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. One side should have the lettering: “And he taught them, saying …”; the other side should simply display the word “BLESSED!”


Creative Writing

 

Select a poetry pattern such as Haiku and write individual poems on the topic of priorities. Use this activity to highlight the fact that Jesus put the priority on the Beatitudes -- the believers guide for living a Christian life.


Write a story from the point of view of a person in the crowd -- what did the experience at Capernaum look like, sound like, and feel like? Encourage writers to add descriptive detail they can imagine based on the Biblical account of the Sermon on the Mount, as well as research they conduct about the time and place.


Culinary

 

Bake an upside-down cake to remind participants that the ideas found in the Sermon on the Mount created a “topsy-turvy” view of the way Christ’s followers were to live.


Whip up a dessert called “Clouds on the Mount.” Partially fill cups with a “mountain” of chocolate pudding and add the “clouds” of whipped topping. Decorate with “happy faces” designed with candy pieces.


 

Dance/Gesture/Movement

 

Learn sign language for the phrase “Kingdom of God.” Explain that this concept is at the heart of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Discuss the implications involved in being invited to participate in God’s Kingdom.

Research the importance of the posture of the rabbi sitting down to teach. Explore the use of the body to express meaning and importance; discuss how we physically reinforce the words we speak with movement and gesture. Compare and contrast that with the approach Jesus used.


 

Drama

 

Read the Scripture passages leading up to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 4:23-24. Write a short dialogue creating first person stories of those in the crowd who had been healed. Have the characters explain why they are in the crowd and following Jesus.

Write a Call to Worship as a choral reading taken from the Sermon on the Mount. Repeat the phrase “And he spoke to them saying …,” and then choose phrases from throughout the three chapters (Matthew 5-7) as the response.


 

Games

 

Design a board game that traces Jesus’ steps on his way to the Mount at Capernaum. Come up with game cards that allow followers to advance and follow or be distracted and fall behind. The winner is the first to arrive at the site for the Sermon on the Mount.

Develop a word search puzzle of key phrases from the Sermon on the Mount. Select key words and phrases from the headings and main teachings found in Matthew 5-7.


Music

 

Sing the old Sunday school song, “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in My Heart.” Make the connection to the importance of hearing Jesus’ words with our hearts and responding with joy.


Write a “piggy back” song about hearing and doing the teachings of Jesus. Choose a simple tune that everyone knows like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and create new words to illustrate the message of the Sermon on the Mount.


Photography

 

Find a picture of the area around Galilee believed to be the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Contrast the beauty and peacefulness of that countryside with the troubling media pictures that come from the conflict in other places in that region. Discuss what words from Jesus’ sermon speak to this situation.

Gather a photo collage of faces from magazines. Since all types of people in the crowd heard Jesus, try to build a collage that reflects the diversity of those who would have been drawn to follow Christ.


 

Puppetry

 

Create a puppet script to explore attitudes and definitions of the word “sermon.” In the exchange, have one puppet help the others understand that this is Jesus’ longest recorded teaching in the Bible, which may have been given at one time, or may have been a combination of many different lessons he taught. The goal would be for all members of the puppet group to learn that “sermon” doesn’t mean “boring.”

Use paper tubes to make rod puppets representing the disciples. Add felt or paper scraps to form the faces and clothing. Glue a craft stick on one side of the bottom of the tube to serve as the handle to hold the puppet. Develop a script that reflects what the disciples might have said in response to Jesus’ sermon.


 

Storytelling

 

Retell the story of the Sermon on the Mount using a children’s Bible or Bible storybook as the lesson.

Share in creating a storytelling game that asks participants to listen to what others say and add to the narrative as it passes from one person to the next. Begin with the phrase “If I were Jesus, I would tell people…”. After everyone has repeated others’ suggestions and added his or her own, compare their ideas with the actual story in the Gospels.

 

Original Post

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

An Overview of the Beatitudes

 

Matthew 5:3-11

 

Article two of eleven part series:

 

by:  Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



 

Architecture

 

Find pictures or representations of Roman arches. Explain that the arch allowed the Romans to build bridges, aqueducts, and homes that were very strong as well as beautiful. Point out the central stone in the arch that held the structure together, the keystone. Relate the concept of the “Keystone” to the importance of the Beatitudes in the Christian life. If we live according to the principles in Jesus’ sermon, our lives will be strong and beautiful, too.

Mold stepping stones from plaster and decorate them with mosaics or marbles to spell out a key word from each Beatitude in each stone. Discuss the symbolism of the stepping stones as reminders that the Beatitudes represent the way of life for all Christians.


 

Art

 

Create a frame for a photograph from card stock or other simple materials. Decorate the frame with letters cut from craft foam to spell the word “Blessed” and create a three-dimensional effect. Discuss the understanding of the Beatitudes as the “frame” for the Christian life.

Purchase or make a “smiley face” stamp to decorate notepaper or post cards. Connect the symbol of the smiley face with the “blessedness” of the Christian life as Jesus presented in his Sermon on the Mount.


Banners/Textiles


Design a fabric covering for a worship center. Create the center of the cloth by decorating and joining eight quilt squares, one for each Beatitude. Frame the squares with a light-colored piece of cloth. As an act of commitment, ask participants to sign their names in the cloth border.

Make a ribbon banner to display the eight Beatitudes. Cut eight 24"-36” strips of fabric or crepe paper and print one Beatitude on each piece. Attach the top of each strip to a dowel rod and hang the banner in a prominent location.


Creative Writing


Determine to write a paraphrase of each of the eight Beatitudes. As a group or as individuals, instruct the participants to use a dictionary or thesaurus to find their own way of phrasing the ideas in Jesus’ sermon. Share the results of the effort on a bulletin board or in a newsletter.

Make a word map to help explore the meaning of the word “Blessed.” Look up the word in a dictionary or a thesaurus. Put the word “Blessed” at the center of a poster; then cluster synonyms around the word to help others understand the central message of the Beatitudes.


Culinary


Find a recipe for old-fashioned divinity candy and make a batch. Share the lighter-than-air confections and discuss the idea of “divine” or “blessed” experiences. Relate the sweetness and light of the treat to the happiness described for those who live according to Jesus’ teaching.

Organize an intergenerational event called “Dinner for Eight.” Place those who sign up in groups of eight. Decorate the tables with place cards that reflect the teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. Use the theme throughout the evening to create a “Blessed Event.”


Dance


Enact the words to the hymn “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” Read or sing the words as gestures are added to illustrate the phrases. Relate the idea of the “tie that binds” to the Christian commitment to live what Jesus teaches in the Beatitudes.

Use movement to represent the Beatitudes as an ensemble. Tell the participants that their task is to physically symbolize the idea of their assigned phrase, while remaining connected to each other. After their presentation, discuss the connection with the Beatitudes themselves: while each is different, they are all inter-related and must be embraced as a whole teaching on the Christian life.


Drama


Develop a clown or mime presentation that represents the transformation found in each Beatitude. Assign someone to be the “transformer” applying a touch of “blessedness” to those who seem to be “poor in spirit” or “persecuted.” Emphasize the change in facial expression that comes with each transformation.

Explain that each of the “Blesseds” in the Beatitudes is really an exclamation, not a simple statement. Rewrite the beginning phrases, or look for a forceful translation of the Beatitudes. Orally interpret each phrase with great emphasis and enthusiasm – like a true exclamation.


Games


Create a variation of the “Password” game with words that are synonyms for “Blessed,” such as “happy or fortunate.” After the game, discuss which words seem to be more in keeping with Jesus’ teaching.

Play a variation on the “Telephone” game to focus on the Beatitudes. Whisper one of the eight phrases from Jesus’ sermon to the first person; then let each person in the circle whisper what he or she heard to the next. Compare the results at the end with the phrase given at the beginning. Make the point that we must listen clearly to what Jesus says in his sermon, not relying on others to tell us what he says.


Music


Search for songs related to the message in the Beatitudes. Or locate a copy of “The Beatitudes” by Avery & Marsh. (Avery, Richard and Donald Marsh. The Second Avery & Marsh Song Book. Carol Stream, IL: Agape, 1983.) Sing or play the song(s) to hear Jesus’ message in a new way.

Write a “Piggy Back” version of the old children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in order to relate the message to the Beatitudes, for example, “If you’re happy and you know it you’ll be meek.”


Photography


Invite a professional photographer to demonstrate how negatives are turned into photographs. Make the connection that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus challenges Christians to turn the negative into a positive. Consider creating a display made from photographic negatives that invite viewers to keep “developing the negative.”

Share photographs or find pictures in books of scenic vistas. Discuss that the view from the mountaintop gives us “the big picture” of the world around us. Likewise, explain that the Sermon on the Mount gives us “the big picture” of Jesus’ teaching.


Puppetry


Make a bottle puppet to represent someone known for the quality described in each Beatitude. Choose well-known people, for example, Mother Theresa who expresses the importance of being “Poor in Spirit.” Also, invite puppeteers to model their creations from the lives of folks in the local community who represent a Beatitude Jesus preached.

Write a puppet script in which each character symbolizes one of the eight Beatitudes. Design the story so that each character joins with the others to become pilgrims on a journey. When they meet Christ they discover that they are truly blessed and continue their journey with joy.


Storytelling


Arrange opportunities for participants to interview people of various ages about their favorite Beatitude. Have the interviewer tell the story that he or she gleaned from the exchange. Tell the stories on paper or on videotape and record them as a living history.

Tell the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount in a way to point out the paradox found in Jesus’ teaching. Instruct listeners to respond to the question “What do you think?” with the phrase “Oh, that’s bad!” Then the storyteller says, “No, that’s good!” and offers the positive interpretation presented by Jesus. For example, the storyteller says, “Guess what! Some people are always willing to be forgiving. Other people may treat them badly, but they just continue being merciful even though it sometimes seems other folks take advantage of them. What do you think?” The audience responds, “Oh, that’s bad!” The storyteller responds, “No, that’s good! For Jesus said that the mercy we show to others is what we receive from God!”

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The First Beatitude

 

Matthew 5:3:  “Blessed are the poor in spirit,For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)

 

Article three of eleven part series:

 

by:  Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary: 

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 

 



Architecture

Compare and contrast the external and the internal structure of buildings using the book Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction as a guide. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973.) Connect the difference of inner and outer structures with the difference between worldly and spiritual lives. Explain the Beatitudes’ emphasis upon the interior life for the Christian.

Search for pictures of castles around the world, especially representing kingdoms of the Middle Ages. Note the similarities between kingdoms of the earth and the kingdom of heaven that Jesus talks about in the Beatitudes. Discuss what kind of protection and possibilities being “within the kingdom” meant to people of the Middle Ages; then discuss what being in God’s Kingdom means to us today.


Art


Design a royal crown and decorate it with costume jewelry. Compare it with pictures of actual crown jewels and point out the value difference between genuine and imitation gems. Discuss the genuine royalty of God’s Spirit compared to human imperfection. Explain that we cannot become royal by acting, nor can we become “blessed” by pretending. We must be genuine with God, which means we acknowledge that we are “poor in spirit.”

Write the word “blessed” on a piece of paper as artistically as possible. Use a mirror to view the drawing and see the word backwards. Make the connection that, to the world, Jesus' explanation of how to achieve blessedness or joy seems backwards to those who do not understand his message. Discuss how being “poor in spirit” can help us discover delight in God’s presence.


Banners/Textiles


Create a banner with a central image of a key ring inscribed with the words “Blessed Are The …” For each Beatitude, add a “key shape” with the “key phrase” from each of Jesus’ statements. The first key should read, “Poor In Spirit.”

Decorate a pair of socks using fabric paint to make “walking signposts” that celebrate humility. Write the phrase “Blessed are the poor in spirit” on one sock, and write “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” on the other. Discuss the concept that humility is the “sole” principle for the Christian life.


Creative Writing


Invite participants to invent their own “secret code” made from symbols or from a formula for interpreting letters, for example deciding that each letter really means the next letter in the alphabet, so A = B, B = C, and so forth. Encourage them to share their codes with a few other people in order to send secret messages in their group. Point out that some of the words in the Beatitudes are like “secret codes” that Christians must learn to interpret. Discuss what meanings we make from words like “blessed” and “poor in spirit.” Explain that such words represent ideas that the world can’t understand until they learn to interpret them through Jesus’ life.

Teach the eponym (a word made from a person’s name) "Uriah Heep" from Charles Dickens’ book David Copperfield. This character’s name has come to represent anyone who pretends to be humble, but isn’t really. Explain that if someone is called a “Uriah Heep” that means that he or she is a hypocrite -- this person says one thing and does another. Make the connection to the Beatitudes by asking them to nominate people they know whose names could become eponyms for genuine humility. Suggest famous examples like Mother Theresa, but also suggest names from the local congregation or community.


Culinary


Experience the difference between dried fruit and fresh fruit. Taste examples of each kind of fruit, such as dried pineapple and fresh pineapple. Discuss the elements of fresh fruit that we miss when eating fruit that has been preserved. Explain that while both are good and good for us, that we usually find more delight in fruits that are juicy and fresh. Draw the parallel to our need to read for ourselves and discover fresh meanings in the Beatitudes. While we may have heard the words “Blessed are the poor in spirit” many times, we might need to “peel open” our Bibles and experience what fresh and new interpretations we can discover in the familiar passages.

Prepare a “kingdom feast” for participants. Plan many taste delights that might be considered “fit for a king.” Explain that those who understand and live by Jesus’ words “Blessed are the poor in spirit” are the ones who will savor all the delights that living in God’s presence can offer.


Dance


Find suitable music for expressive movement. Place participants in small groups and ask them to choreograph movement to represent one idea expressed in the first Beatitude. Give each group a different concept to express, for example: emptying ourselves to be filled by God, becoming poor to find the richness of God’s presence, or humbling ourselves to receive God’s grace. Ask each small group to portray for the others the idea they were assigned.

Invite someone to lead a square dance and teach participants basic moves. Discuss the relationship between the first Beatitude and this type of dance. Consider the importance of following the one who calls out the moves or the necessity of “honoring your partner” in order to fulfill Jesus’ challenge to be “poor in spirit.”


Drama


Challenge players to create a script to teach the meaning of Jesus’ message that the way to find the kingdom of God is to humble ourselves. Suggest a possible script idea based on a group of people who decide to shave their heads in support of a friend who has lost his or her hair due to chemotherapy.

Place participants in pairs, facing each other. Instruct one of each pair to be the leader. The other must be the mirror and imitate the leader’s actions. Allow them to practice until the pair can portray a person standing at a mirror; then have the partners switch roles. Debrief the experience by asking what difference it made to be leader or follower. Ask how their thinking had to change in order to be the mirror. Relate the concept to the first Beatitude’s instruction to be “poor in spirit.” Ask participants to “reflect” upon their willingness to humble themselves in order to concentrate on following Jesus’ lead.


Games


Play a relay game in which the object is to be the first team to empty a container of its contents. Provide each team with two small buckets. Fill one bucket with packing peanuts or other material and set it at one end of the playing area. Place the empty container at opposite side of the room, at the starting line. Give each team a long-handled spoon and a blindfold. The blindfolded player must follow the directions shouted by teammates to direct him or her across the room to the correct bucket. There the player has one chance to remove a scoop from the bucket, return to the team, and deposit the spoonful into the empty bucket. The team who empties the first bucket, or comes closest after teams have completed a rotation or time limit, wins the game. Use the game to impress the message of the first Beatitude that Christians find most joy by emptying themselves and becoming “poor in spirit.”

Reinvent the game "Monopoly" by playing it in reverse. Begin by distributing all of the money and the property to the players. Explain that the object of the game will be to get rid of money and property and be the first one to become poor. Reverse all of the rules so that landing on property one owns means that the player can return the deed and the money it cost to the bank.


Music


Learn the hymn "Just As I Am." Sing it at the close of a study on the first Beatitude.

Listen to music that features numerous crescendos and invite participants to play the cymbals to accompany the music’s high points. Take turns playing the cymbals. Point out that one of the messages of the first Beatitude is that in the world Christians will experience clashing values. Consider what worldly ideas would clash with seeking to be poor in spirit.


Photography


Locate photographs of famous people who are celebrated because they lived Jesus’ idea of finding blessedness by being poor in spirit. Write captions for the picture explaining how this person’s life expressed the idea found in Matthew 5:3. Make a display for all to appreciate.

View a film based on the biography of someone known for demonstrating the power of a life based on humility. Consider historical figures such as Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer, or Mother Theresa.


Puppetry


Develop a puppet script that plays upon the paradox that the first Beatitude suggests that we put ourselves last.

Make a puppet or several puppets from a variety of old shoes. Let each one tell its tale about the paths they’ve taken to follow God’s guidelines.


Storytelling


Select a story to read or tell from William Bennett’s The Children’s Book of Virtues (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).

View the mini-series Peter and Paul, starring Anthony Hopkins, released by Consumervision in 1996. Emphasize the scene in which Paul discovers the essence of a humble life, based on 1 Corinthians 13.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Second Beatitude:

 

Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (NKJV)

 

Article four of eleven part series:

 

by:  Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture


Invite someone from a neighborhood association or historical society involved in a restoration project to visit the group and learn about the plan. If possible, take a tour of a restored area or building. Discuss the connection to God’s promise to comfort and restore the joy of those who mourn.

Learn about the work of Habitat for Humanity and its founder, Millard Fuller. Consider volunteering to help construct or raise funds for a Habitat house. Explain that God’s people mourn for those who need life’s most basic necessities, a place to call “home,” but that mourning leads to action.


Art


Create an artistic expression of joy using black construction paper, tempera paint, and eyedroppers. Fill an eyedropper with bright paint and let the splotches of color fall in random designs onto the black background. Point out that the drops of paint are like tears of mourning, yet the resulting design is a beautiful pattern. Share that God can bring something beautiful to our lives even in the midst of sorrow.

Offer a rock to each participant and instruct everyone to paint the word "Jesus" on it as a reminder of the source of the strong foundation of faith.


Banners/Textiles


Design and create a quilt or invite a quilting group in to demonstrate the technique. Explain that quilts are like memories because families used to save scraps of cloth from clothing to piece together to make the quilt. Each patchwork piece, then, was a reminder of a former time or of a person. Like God comforts us when we mourn, a quilt is a “comforter” stitched from life and memory.

Make mourning cloths from strips of black cloth to drape over windows, crosses, or tables as an expression of sadness on Good Friday or at other appropriate times of the year. Teach about the Victorian tradition of draping doors and windows in black cloth to communicate that the family was grieving.


Creative Writing


Collect quotes that help people make sense of difficult and sad times. Make posters, bookmarks, or decorate journal pages with phrases like the Arabian proverb, “All sunshine makes a desert.”

Make sympathy cards containing comforting scriptures, lines of poetry, or heartfelt words of compassion. Decorate the cards with stickers, pictures cut from magazines, or original artwork. Send a card to someone who needs encouragement and hope.


Culinary


Gather recipes for casseroles that can be frozen. Then get together to prepare the ingredients – in “assembly line” fashion – and to place the casseroles in a freezer to be used in times of emergencies or great need. Be sure to attach the recipe and any baking instructions to the covered dish.

Set a date to hold a fast, either collectively or as a vigil with each participant abstaining from a different meal for a given period of time. Remind the participants to “fill” themselves with things other than food -- like prayer for those in need or the reading of scripture. Encourage everyone to write down their thoughts about the experience and share what it was like to feel a deep longing for something. Connect the idea of “hunger” to the emptiness felt by those who mourn.


Dance


Emphasize the importance of reaching out to one another in times of mourning and loss. Find music with lyrics containing the word “hands,” for example: “Put Your Hand in the Hand” or “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Create hand movements to portray the meaning of the song and of the Beatitude.

Volunteer to get moving for those in need in the community. Join or organize a Community Walk for the needs of others. Explain that those who truly mourn for God’s people will “put legs on their prayers.” Point out that God uses us to comfort those who mourn.


Drama


Design a clown skit to mime the concept of being transformed from a person who is mourning to a person finding comfort. One idea to enact the transformation could be to gather a group of clowns who were obviously in mourning. Another clown would enter who might have the secret ingredient to cure the others’ misery. He or she could try a number of “cures” -- charts, graphs, lectures, scoldings, pills, fairy dust, and so forth. But, finally, in desperation the clown compassionately touches someone in mourning and the “transformation” occurs. Then the “transformed” clown offers a hug or act of caring to another -- and so the transformation passes from one to another.

Read and enact the story of the death of Lazarus in John 11:1-44. Emphasize the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept” found in John 11:35. Discuss the reality that Jesus expressed mourning for the loss of friends when he was on earth.


Games


Play a version of the game Pictionary. First have a group brainstorm words related to commonly used expressions of concern; for example, “God bless you,” “You’re in my prayers,” “Take care of yourself,” “Call me if you need anything,” and so forth. Write the expressions on separate cards or slips of paper. Then divide the group into teams. Each team takes turns using Pictionary rules to try to guess the phrase being drawn.

Print a variety of situations related to the theme of the Beatitude, "Blessed are those who mourn." Suggestions to include might be a person who experiences a death in the family, someone whose house is totaled due to a fire, or a person who loses a job. Have one player at a time select a card and read the situation. In response have everyone else in the group suggest one way to show God's love in this circumstance. Assure the group that there are no right or wrong answers since God's people should respond in a variety of ways.


Music


Learn the story behind the hymn “Abide With Me” and sing the words with new meaning.

Listen to the selection “Comfort Ye My People” from a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Look up Isaiah 40:1-3 and compare the command of God with the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:4.


Photography


Create a collage of pictures, either original photographs or clippings from magazines, that would answer the question, “What would God mourn?” Provide time for discussion or for searching through magazines for pictures that represent failures of human beings to care for or comfort one another.

Watch a film about mourning and restoration like Old Yeller, A Walk to Remember, or Where the Red Fern Grows.


Puppetry


Design a puppet with both a happy and a sad face. Have the puppet explain how being sad can help us find new ways to experience joy.

Write a puppet script based on the theme of “Good Grief!” One puppet can be in pursuit of discovering how grief could possibly be good. Many puppet friends can try to explain away the idea as being impossible or as meaning that grief is good when it belongs to someone else. Finally, a wise teacher can suggest the three meanings of “Good Grief!” by explaining the meaning of the Beatitude: mourning a loss leads us to discover God’s comfort; mourning for others’ losses leads us to discover compassion; and mourning for our own sin leads us to finding God’s redemption.


Storytelling


Read the children’s book, “Something from Nothing” by Phoebe Gilman (New York: Scholastic, 1992.) In this story, Joseph’s baby blanket is transformed into ever smaller items until there is nothing left. Yet Joseph still has an idea. Discuss the message of the book and relate the idea that the Beatitude challenges us to learn not to look at what we have lost, but to look at what we have left.

Tell a story to convey the meaning of the Beatitude. Use a minus sign as a visual aid and explain the negative meaning that it represents. Use the minus sign to represent the things in life that cause us to feel less, to experience loss, to mourn. Then introduce a plus sign by adding the upright line to the negative. Explain that changing a minus to a plus adds instead of subtracts. Connect that symbol to the things in life that make us feel positive, that add meaning and joy to life, that bring us comfort. Point out that the plus sign is also another symbol – the sign of the cross. Portray the coming of Jesus as God’s offer to turn the negatives of life into positives. Make the connection to Jesus’ teaching in the Beatitude that when we mourn for our sin (symbolized by the minus sign), God offers us salvation (symbolized by the plus sign, or cross) and we are comforted.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Third Beatitude:

 

Matthew 5:5 - Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.


Article five of eleven part series:

 

by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 

 



Architecture

Explain that architects use machines and levers to help them build their designs. Suggest simple tools like scissors, tweezers, or nutcrackers as examples of levers that make work easier. Have the students do an experiment to discover the advantage created by the proper location of a fulcrum. Organize the class into groups of four or less students. Give each group a hardcover book, two unsharpened pencils and scotch tape. Instruct each group to tape one pencil on the table to be the fulcrum and use the other pencil as a lever to lift the book. Have all the groups experience placing the fulcrum at three different locations -- toward the front of the pencil-lever, toward the middle, and toward the end -- to better understand the idea of mechanical advantage. Explain that the idea of “meekness” is like finding the proper balance of faith that gives us an advantage over life’s difficulties. If we place our faith in God, we will discover the blessing or “advantage” of a fulcrum for all of our actions in life.
Look around the church property or in the local neighborhood for an area that could benefit from a “green space” design. Explain to participants that architects try to “soften” the lines and textures of buildings and roadways by adding in designs that include plants, grasses, and trees. If possible, design and install materials that would create a landscape effect and bring a natural gentleness to a building or roadway. Connect the idea of “softening” a construction design with the concept of “meekness.” Discuss the ways in which God’s presence serves to make us more gentle in our dealings with other people.


Art


Distribute modeling clay to the participants and ask them to work the clay in their hands until it is warm and pliable. As they are working the clay discuss the Beatitude and the meaning of the word “meek.” Once the clay has become soft, then connect the idea of meekness to the readiness of the clay to be sculpted. Explain that to be meek for a Christian means that he or she is pliable in God’s hands.

Stencil the phrase “Meek NOT Weak!” on a plain doormat and place the message at a frequently used entrance. Discuss the difference between choosing to be a servant like Christ and being a “doormat.”


Banners/Textiles


Create a cloth chain to connect the Beatitudes studied so far. Cut eighteen-inch strips of plain, solid-colored cloth, one for each of the Beatitudes. Have the students print the message of each of the first three Beatitudes on three strips of cloth. Explain that Jesus’ teachings are not to be seen as individual messages, but are to be linked together as the overall guide for the Christian life. Connect the links of cloth to begin a “Beatitude Chain,” and add strips as each verse is studied.

Purchase or design simple “sewing cards” of Biblical stories or of nature scenes. Provide yarn for the participants to complete the pattern by “sewing” through the design. Once complete, the cards should have a stitched design on one side. Have the participants turn the cards over to observe the back of the design. Explain that living out the third Beatitude may appear “inside out” to others. Living a life that is gentle and humble before God may not be a pattern others understand, but it is the way we create a life that is beautiful to God.


Creative Writing


Discuss the word “meekness” with the students and explain that the Christian understanding behind this Beatitude is that the word challenges us to be open minded, to recognize that we have much to learn from God and from each other. Tell the participants that they will receive “open-ended” statements to start their thinking. They should complete the statements with their own ideas and then share their writing with one another. Remind them to keep an open mind and to recognize that we can learn from each others’ understandings. Use open-ended statements such as: "Meekness is …", "Humility means …", and "Jesus says we’ll be blessed when …".

Invite the participants to use their creative writing ability to help others learn more about the misunderstood idea of “meekness.” Explain that they are going to do some research in the Bible to discover other passages that will help Christians understand what it means to be blessed by being meek. Have groups or individuals look up verses such as Numbers 12:3, Psalm 22:26, Psalm 76:9, Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 29:19, and Zephaniah 2:3. Then ask them to write an explanation of how this scripture connects to the third Beatitude. Encourage the use of Bible helps or have writers interview congregational members to arrive at their explanations. Publish the written connections in the newsletter or post them on a bulletin board.


Culinary


Gather unusual taste treats -- or take a field trip to a restaurant or a farmer’s market -- and provide the opportunity for the participants to try something new. Connect their experience with new tastes to the Beatitude’s challenge to remain open to new experiences, not closed off and self-satisfied. Remind the tasters that we may not relish everything we try, but we will at least have been open to the possibility and willing to explore new experiences. Explain that the meek are God’s open-minded followers who don’t have to know it all and who are open to God’s leading in their lives.

Hold a “secret center” tasting party. Provide -- or invite the participants to bring -- treats with a surprise hidden inside such as Combos, Tootsie Pops, or Twinkies. Once the treats have been gathered, display the possibilities and share in the snacks. Offer the connection that the third Beatitude Jesus gave us challenges us to make a difference on the inside. Talk about what the filling called “meekness” is all about.


Dance


Choose a favorite music piece and invite the participants to choreograph movement to represent Christ’s call to meekness. Read Matthew 11:28-30 as preparation for the dance. Explain that those who are meek are willing to be yoked with God so that God can guide and direct their lives. Ask the dancers to use scarves or long pieces of cloth as a part of their choreography to symbolize being yoked to God.

Portray the flexible nature of river reeds that bend and move in the wind instead of breaking. Explain that being meek means being gentle and flexible so that life doesn’t bend us out of shape.


Drama


Dramatize the idea of the “Happy Medium” by first representing extreme ideas of happiness. One actor or group should pantomime or improvise those who think happiness is found by being a spendthrift. The other extreme should represent the miser. The third person or group should enact the “Happy Medium” of the enjoyment of generosity. Consider writing an epilogue that connects those that are meek with those who find life’s “happy medium.”

Re-enact the New Testament story of the life and martyrdom of Stephen, Acts 6:1–7:60, whose life of humility and meekness serve as a model of the third Beatitude. In response to his story, discuss the importance of forgiveness in the life of those who live Christ’s command.


Games


Play a game of Red Rover, but begin by discussing rules for the game that everyone can follow so as not to hurt one another. Determine what should and what should not be allowed in breaking through the line. Explain that in playing Red Rover the participants are challenged to be strong, but fair. Connect the idea to the concept of being meek; we can be forceful in pursuing the tasks God gives us, but we must be mindful not to use our power to hurt other people.

Visit a playground to experience the ups and downs of a see saw. Challenge the participants to try to balance their weight on the see saw. Discuss the words of Christ in the third Beatitude in relation to the ups and downs of life. Explain that God can help us find the balance, or meekness. Point out that we must be mindful of others if we are to be meek, just like we must be careful when we exit the see saw so that the other person does not get hurt.


Music


Provide the participants with the opportunity to create harmony by cooperating together to use bells or glasses filled with water to make music. Explain that to follow the third Beatitude is to strive for harmony in our own lives and in our relationships with others.

Sing the hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be” as a prayer. Before singing, read and discuss the words in relation to the third Beatitude. Make the point that Jesus challenges every Christian to live a life that is meek, a life that is surrendered to God for use in God’s service.


Photography


Go on a photo scavenger hunt. Provide digital or instant cameras and ask the participants to take pictures of anything they can find that symbolizes “control.” Brainstorm a few possible objects to photograph like a car’s steering wheel, the oven knobs, or a dog leash. Set a time limit and/or a picture limit for gathering the images of control. After printing the pictures, make a display and discuss the connection to the third Beatitude. Ask the group to consider how Jesus would expect the lives of the meek to be controlled.

Show the film Gandhi and discuss the qualities of meekness in Gandhi’s life. As well, discuss the impact of the film’s photography and how the images helped communicate the essence of Gandhi’s life.


Puppetry


Make a Moses puppet to tell the story of Moses being called by God. Depict the change in Moses from a quiet shepherd minding his own sheep to a forceful leader able to stand up even to Pharaoh. Title the story, “Moses the Meek.” After telling the puppet story, discuss how Moses’ meekness allowed God to be able to use him.

Write a puppet script featuring a “meek” puppet that learns that Jesus said, “The meek will inherit the earth.” Develop the script around the change that occurs in this puppet as he or she begins to demand the inheritance now, even trying to organize the meek into a lobbying group. Have other puppets try to explain that Jesus wasn’t talking about actually being given the land, but instead really experiencing life here on earth with greater joy and peace.


Storytelling


Find a biography of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Using pictures, re-tell the story of her life and her mission for God. Connect her life story to the meaning of the third Beatitude.

Read an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Discuss the understanding of meekness that Dr. King represented. Point out the importance of resisting things that are wrong, of being angry for the right reasons, and of acting with strength to change injustice.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Fourth Beatitude: 

Matthew 5:6 - Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

 

Article six of eleven part series

 

Phyllis Wezeman & Ann Liechty

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture

Look in books or on Internet sites for pictures of famous palaces like Versailles in France or the Taj Mahal in India. Discuss the grandeur of the design, decoration, and space each palace represents. Ask what the humans who built these opulent palaces might have been “hungering and thirsting” for in their lives. Consider what Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:6 suggest about whether such palaces would satisfy human hunger and thirst for happiness. Then discuss what our lives suggest we are hungering and thirsting for.

Visit a home building materials center to look for ideas and resources that might go into a “dream home.” Encourage the participants to envision the type of home that they think would make them happy, perhaps even have them draw, design, or cut pictures from magazines to depict their plans. Discuss whether they would want to choose poor quality materials in the building of their dream home. Connect the importance of choosing quality materials to Jesus’ words about how to find true happiness in life by longing for God’s righteousness as the building material for our daily lives.


Art


Create sand art by pouring varied layers of colored sand into clear baby food jars. Point out the beauty of the different colors and patterns the sand produces. Make the point that sand reminds us of dry, thirsty climates. However, even in places where we might thirst for water, people can still satisfy their longing for God’s righteousness by finding beauty in creation and praising its Creator.

Design a collage using images taken from retail catalogs that represent the “things” that people “hunger and thirst” to have. Paste the pictures of material longings on one side of the poster. On the reverse side, create a collage using images from a religious retailer's catalog. Look for ideas related to Matthew 5:6 showing the kind of “right-thinking” that leads us to hunger and thirst for God’s ways.


Banners/Textiles


Decorate bib aprons for use in the church kitchen. Use fabric paint to write Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:6 as a challenge to remember the importance of spiritual hunger and thirst even as we prepare food and drink for our bodies.

Use the words from Psalm 42:1b as the focal point for a banner to place near a drinking fountain or to use in worship. Remind those designing the banner of Jesus’ words in the fourth Beatitude, and discuss what it means to long to know God just as the thirsty long for water.


Creative Writing


Compose prayers for finding spiritual nourishment inspired by the fourth Beatitude. Copy the words of the prayers on to table tents to use as daily reminders of our need for God’s righteousness. Remind the writers that we must satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst with God’s presence every day, just like we must satisfy our need for physical food every day.

Write want ads for two newspapers. Call one the Worldly Words and one the Christian Courier. First, write the ads for what is “wanted” based on what the world says is satisfying and important to our happiness. Then read the Beatitudes, especially Matthew 5:6, and write ads for what those want who long for spiritual satisfaction.


Culinary


Make a list of favorite “junk foods.” Look up the calorie count and nutritional information on each food item on the list. Discuss the importance of making good choices about putting fuel in our physical bodies. Then make a list of favorite sources of spiritual food. Discuss how to create a more balanced and nutritious spiritual meal as a part of living in spiritual health.

Plan a “hunger meal” in which the participants remember those who truly understand what it means to suffer from physical hunger and thirst. They may wish to donate money to an organization involved in world hunger relief. As part of their experience, the participants should emphasize taking in spiritual food by holding a special prayer service, reading and studying scripture, singing hymns, or sharing their personal longings for God’s blessings.


Dance


Choreograph a scene that portrays people receiving spiritual nourishment. Begin with some who are twisted and contorted, representing hunger and thirst. As others bring symbols of spiritual food – an open Bible, a communion chalice, a loaf of bread, a bowl of water for baptism – those in need begin to be restored and find new energy for living.

Create different gestures to represent longing, as in hunger and thirst. Discuss whether the chosen gestures turn inward or reach outward. Point out that the longing Jesus said would bring us blessedness is directed toward God. Conclude with gestures that would represent that kind of longing.


Drama

 

Interview church members to discover how friends have helped individuals to discover or remember their need for God. Use the gathered stories to write “Spiritual Service Announcements” that remind people of their importance in helping others awaken to their need for spiritual food.


Read the story of the Israelites receiving manna in the wilderness, Exodus 16:13-36, and enact their daily search for food. Suggest dialogue that explores the idea that life is a spiritual journey toward God, more important than even daily food. We will find satisfaction only when our hunger and thirst is for God’s presence even more than for food and water.


Games


Print the word righteousness on paper or spell it on the chalkboard. See how many other words the participants can form by rearranging the letters or spelling smaller words contained within these thirteen letters. Set a time limit and offer a small reward to the one who can discover the most words hidden within the longer word. Discuss the meaning of righteousness as “right thinking” in line with God’s ways. Explain that Jesus promised the greatest reward of blessedness to those who wanted this word more than even food and water.

Use a software program to create a crossword puzzle based on words related to who God is. Include names for God, qualities of God, blessings of God, and any other spiritual terms that explain how human beings experience the in-filling of God’s presence.


Music


Look through a hymnal to find songs that connect water or food with God’s satisfying presence like “Fill My Cup, Lord” or “There Shall Be Showers of Blessings.” Sing the first verses of each or sing a few favorite hymns. Tie the images of food and water to the spiritual blessing that Jesus promises in Matthew 5:6.

Sing a version of Psalm 42, such as the praise song “As the Deer.” Connect the thirst for water and the thirst for God’s righteousness with Jesus’ message in the fourth Beatitude.


Photography


Develop an “ad campaign” for God. Point out that television commercials try to create “hunger and thirst” after things that don’t satisfy. Challenge the participants to make commercials to reach audiences with a message about “hungering and thirsting after righteousness.”

Locate a video or a brochure from a world relief organization with pictures of water or well projects that have improved the quality of life for an impoverished area or developing country. Discuss the importance of clean and available water to human beings. In light of this physical need, speculate about the implications of Jesus’ statement challenging us to recognize our spiritual thirst for God.


Puppetry


Develop a puppet script around a group of characters that discover a treasure map that promises to guide them to “true happiness.” The map guides them to “clues.” The first clue would be “your hunger and thirst.” Next they find the words “can fill.” They suggest many ideas of what they might find that “can fill your hunger and thirst.” The missing piece to their treasure map puzzle are the words “Only God.” Finally they understand the complete message found in Matthew 5:6.

Make or use puppets to re-tell the story of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11-32. Use Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:6 about hungering and thirsting for God’s goodness as the moral of the story. Discuss which of the characters in the story best portrays the quality Jesus means by “righteousness.”


Storytelling


Tell the story of Saint Francis who gave up all his wealth and position to become God’s beggar. Explain that Saint Francis understood what Jesus meant in the fourth Beatitude, that true happiness comes from desiring God’s presence more than anything else in life.

Use a sand table as a storytelling tool. Create a representation of a well as a part of the scene. Use this setting as a backdrop for discussing the importance of water in the desert and to relate the stories in which Jesus used water as a symbol for God’s grace, for example John 4:1-26, when he spoke to the woman at the well.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Fifth Beatitude:

Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful,  For they shall obtain mercy. (NKJV)

 

Article seven of eleven part series:

 

by Phyllis Wezeman & Ann Liechty

 

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture

Look for pictures of inscriptions above doorways or tour public buildings whose edifices display important quotations or Latin phrases above their entryways. Discuss the significance of inscribing important words above a building’s entrance. Offer the words from Micah 6:8 as a possible declaration fitting for a church building, or Matthew 5:7 as appropriate for a clinic or a hospital.

Use the idea of the cooperation needed in building a bridge to discuss the importance of Christians working together toward a mission of mercy. Explain that individual acts of mercy make a difference, but point out that acting together Christians can accomplish much more – “span greater distances” – and reach more people with God’s message of love and forgiveness.


Art


Purchase scratch-art paper and instruct the participants to scratch away the surface in order to create a design that represents their understanding of “mercy.” Make the connection that, no matter how merciful we are toward others, we are only “scratching the surface” in comparison to the depth of God’s mercy for us.

Use mirrors to aid the participants in drawing self-portraits. Explain that, as they try to draw their own images, they should remember that Christians are called to reflect God’s mercy to the world.


Banners/Textiles


Find directions for making batik cloth and use the process of layering wax on fabric to discuss the change that God’s forgiveness brings to receptive human hearts. Make a banner from the batik cloth to celebrate the blessedness that comes to those who both receive and share God’s mercy.

Weave a group web of mercy by tossing a ball of yarn from one person to another. As each one receives the yarn, he or she should share the name of one person who has shown mercy; then, holding the strand of yarn, he or she should toss the ball on to the next person to share another name. By the time all have acknowledged the merciful in their lives, the group should have created a woven design. Point out that the connectedness of the strands in the web remind us that we are all connected through our need for mercy, both from God and from one another.


Creative Writing


Brainstorm examples of opposites in regard to Christian mercy; for example, “hungry” versus “fed,” “lonely” versus “visited,” “persecuted” versus “welcomed.” Ask the participants to write examples from Scripture or from life experiences that illustrate the challenge Christians accept to offer “opposite” responses of mercy in life’s miseries. Collect the ideas in a “Book of Opposites” to read and display.

Instruct the participants to look up the definition of “empathy.” Ask them to write a story about a time when they identified strongly with another’s difficulty or pain. Share the stories and relate their moments of empathy to the Beatitudes and Jesus’ words about being merciful.


Culinary


Collect ingredients to make a batch of soup. Prepare the soup and divide it into disposable containers. Distribute soup portions to those who need special mercy like those who are ill, shut in, or alone.

Make pretzels by twisting dough and sprinkling with it with kosher salt. Explain that pretzels were first made by monks to symbolize arms folded across the body in prayer. Teach the words to the Kyrie: “Christ, have mercy … ". Say the prayer before eating the warm pretzels.


Dance


Find a recording of the hymn “The Ninety and Nine” and choreograph movement to accompany the lyrics. Let the movements illustrate God’s mercy in seeking and celebrating the return of the lost.

Invite a sign-language interpreter to teach the participants how to sign the Lord’s Prayer. Discuss especially the sign for forgiveness, and relate the importance of receiving and extending forgiveness as a necessary component of mercy.


Drama


Recite and/or memorize Portia’s speech from The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1, about the “quality of mercy.” Discuss how Shakespeare’s poetry captures the message found in Matthew 5:7.

View a portrayal of Jesus’ words from the cross in a film like Jesus of Nazareth. Discuss the mercy Christ exhibits as he extends acceptance to the thief on the cross and offers forgiveness to those who crucify him. Point out that we must also extend mercy not only to those who ask for it, but also to those who do not even seem to deserve it.


Games


Play a “Shoe Scramble” game to learn about empathy. Ask everyone to take off their shoes and to place them in a central location. Prior to beginning, jumble the shoes so that pairs are not together in the heap of footwear. Place the participants in groups and explain that each person must run to the pile, put on another pair of shoes -- lacing or buckling them as completely as possible -- and return to his or her team, releasing the next participant in the race. The first team to complete the process and “walk in another’s shoes” wins the game. Note that if the shoes are too small to wear on the feet, participants may place the shoes on their hands and return on all fours to their group.

Survey the congregation or Sunday school classes asking them to list five important acts of mercy that should be a part of the Christian life such as helping a stranger in need, providing healthcare for the poor, or giving to orphanages. Use the survey findings to play a game of “Family Feud,” forming two teams whose members take turns trying to guess what mercies best represent the Christian life.


Music


Experiment with sounds that represent mercy. Compare the soothing sounds of the harp, the chimes, the flute, and even the rain stick with our understanding of mercy. Connect the qualities heard in the sounds with the gentle, soothing, harmonious qualities we find in God’s mercy.

Read Psalm 89:1 and sing “I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord Forever.” Ask the participants to share why thinking of God’s mercy would make us want to sing.


Photography


Choose one of the healing stories that exhibit Jesus’ mercy. Identify important moments in the story – at least one each from the beginning, middle, and end of the narrative. Assign individuals or groups to create an acetate transparency that represents one of the significant moments. Present the story in sequence by projecting the transparencies that the participants have created on an overhead projector.

Look in a concordance to find Bible verses that speak about the importance of mercy. Match photographs with the biblical words about God’s mercy to create a bulletin board or wall display and to teach others about this important Christian quality.


Puppetry


Create puppets to improvise the story of the “unforgiving servant” found in Matthew 18:21-35. Relate the story to Jesus’ statement in the Beatitudes about the blessedness of those who are merciful.

Use different kinds of gloves as puppets to represent the ways the merciful must act to bring God’s mercy to others. For example, a hand dressed in a surgical glove would “speak” for the mercy extended to those suffering and in need of healthcare. A work-glove puppet would speak for acts of mercy like repairing an elderly person’s roof or cleaning out their gutters. A boxing glove might speak of fighting for justice; a dressy glove might speak of taking a shut-in out to tea. The puppets emphasize the important idea that mercy is not only something we receive, but something we must do.


Storytelling


Adapt the story of the Good Samaritan to reflect modern prejudices and language. For example, the story could be termed “the Good Geek.” Let participants brainstorm and add details that would represent modern society’s parallel to the story. Then re-tell the parable to other groups and audiences.

Read the children’s book You Are Special by Max Lucado. Discuss the message of God’s mercy reflected in the Creator’s loving acceptance of Punchinello.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Sixth Beatitude:

Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (NKJV)

 

Article eight of eleven part series:

 

by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture

 

Invite an architect to discuss the planning and design for building a staircase. Relate the idea of building steps to the process of becoming pure in heart. Suggest steps for growth toward purity of heart such as meditation, prayer, action, reflection, and openness.

Research the refining process used to produce metals suitable for construction. If possible visit refineries or other locations where metals are prepared for use in the building trades. Connect the refining and preparation processes with the Christian life that is based on God’s refining process for hearts.


Art


Find different stamps of heart shapes. Use the stamps to decorate stationery and add the words from Matthew 5:8 as the inscription.

Use bars of ivory soap to carve a heart shape and inscribe the words from the sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Point out that Ivory Soap is 99 and 44/100% pure.


Banners/Textiles


Make a heart-shaped “no-sew” fleece pillow as a reminder of the sixth Beatitude. Cut two identical heart shapes from fleece. On one fleece heart, use a ruler and chalk or disappearing ink pen to draw a heart four inches from the edge of the fabric. Measure from the cut edge to the drawing, and draw lines for fringe approximately one inch wide and four inches long. Stack the hearts with the chalk-lined one on top. Cut the fringe through both layers. Begin at the bottom point of the heart and double-knot the top piece of fringe to the one beneath. When four knots remain undone, stuff the heart with fiberfill, then finish the remaining fringes.

Paint the Beatitude’s words on a transparent shower curtain and add heart symbols with fabric paint to remind family members to seek God’s cleansing in order to be “pure in heart.” Discuss the fact that others cannot see our motives, but they can see our deeds and our lives as we act out the purity of our hearts. Explain that, just as we must cleanse our bodies daily, we must daily seek God’s grace to cleanse and purify our hearts.


Creative Writing


Explain the concept of centering prayer and ask the participants to write their own prayer to use as a centering technique. Share that centering prayer is designed to help people let go of the need for words and simply be in God’s presence. Offer a sample prayer like, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Explain that to use the prayer to center the heart, one prays the words as he or she exhales. Then slowly -- as the heart quiets -- the pray-er drops one phrase: first leaving off “a sinner,” then “on me,” then “have mercy,” and the “Lord” until the only prayer word being exhaled is “Jesus.” Done in a meditative state, centering prayer focuses the breathing and the thoughts solely on God. Individuals should create their own phrases and include their favorite phrase for addressing God to begin the prayer and to be their final word for contemplation.

Find or make a personal journal to be used as a place to “cleanse the heart.” Explain that journaling is a way to let out thoughts and worries that can keep our hearts and minds focused on things other than God. Journals should be a private place to discover what we are thinking and feeling and to seek God’s presence and purpose for our lives. Encourage the participants to write in their journals regularly, even daily, and to use words as a way to explore a relationship with God who knows our hearts better than we do ourselves.


Culinary


Create a week of menus designed to be heart-healthy meals for the family. Look through cookbooks and recipe collections to find ideas for making favorite foods in ways that keep hearts healthy and strong.

Discuss the importance of pure drinking water. Investigate purification methods that filter water to take out impurities. Taste the water from the tap and then filter and taste it again. Relate the world’s need for pure drinking water to the Christian’s need for purity of heart made possible by God’s filtering system of forgiveness.


Dance


Choreograph a circle dance in which the participants join hands and face each other. Then change the steps of the dance to direct the movement outward toward an audience. Explain that Christians must draw together for inward cleansing and then take God’s purity of heart to the world. Relate the inner and outer life of the Christian to the choreography of the dance.

Invite a fitness instructor to lead the group in different dance routines designed to create healthy hearts. Connect the importance of increasing our physical heart rates to the importance of exercising our spiritual hearts by doing God’s work in the world.


Drama


Perform a choral reading of passages such as Psalm 23: 3,4; Psalm 51:10; and 1 John 3:1-3. Vary the lines with male and female voices, individual and group reading, and/or with variations in pitch and volume.

Read a simplified version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and reenact the main points of the classic poem. Help the participants connect this allegory of the Christian life to the Beatitude’s promise that the pure in heart will see God.


Games


Cut a large heart out of construction paper and on it write the words of Matthew 5:8. Then create a jigsaw puzzle from the heart shape. Have the participants reconstruct the heart to read the message. Discuss how God helps us to put the pieces back together so that our hearts can be whole and pure.

Involve the participants in creating a “pure hearts” card game. Brainstorm the names of people whose deeds have reflected a “pure heart” approach to living. Create pairs of names such as Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, or use names of people from the players’ own community who exhibit such traits. Play the game like “Go Fish” in an attempt to match pairs. The player with the most “pure hearts” wins.


Music


Ask the participants to bring in, play, or sing their favorite music that quiets their hearts. Perform, record, or simply experience the music together. Invite each person to share why he or she finds this music soothing and how it fits with their desire to be pure in heart.

Find the hymn, “Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart.” Sing the words together. Consider re-writing the hymn in contemporary language.


Photography


Bring in a photographer to demonstrate and discuss the parts of a camera. Emphasize the importance of the lens. Relate the importance of the focus on a photographic subject to the heart focused on God.

Use an instant camera to take pictures of the participants. Once the pictures are dry, shuffle them and turn them face down. Invite group members to select a photograph. If someone accidentally picks his or her own, simply return and re-select. The person pictured, then, becomes the “prayer partner” of the one who did the choosing. He or she should place the photograph where it will be seen regularly. Every time the participants see their prayer partners’ pictures, they should remember to bless the person in the photograph. Remind the group to be “pure in heart” in their desire for God’s presence in one another person’s life.


Puppetry


Find or make a marionette and present a brief play about “who is pulling the strings of your heart?” Challenge the audience to consider if God is controlling their hearts.

Make heart-shaped puppets from paper plates. Invite participants to imagine what their hearts would say if they could talk. Consider writing a puppet script about talking hearts that reveal what each person’s real treasure is. Would our hearts reveal something that would reward or embarrass us?


Storytelling


Reread the story of Moses’ desire to see God in Exodus 33:12-23. Then re-tell the story as an example of what it means to desire to know God more perfectly: we must ask God for what we want; we must be willing to accept the challenge of climbing the mountain toward God; we must want to know God more than we want anything else; and we must wait for God’s timing in order to experience God’s power. Explain that once Moses went back to the camp, he took with him the glory of God so that everyone could see he had been in God’s presence.

Use a railroad crossing sign to tell a story about how to seek God. Explain the message of the sign -- stop, look, and listen -- and discuss why it is important to know when we are in the presence of an on-coming train. Question what kind of sign we need to help us know when we are in God’s presence. Suggest that “stop, look, and listen” is also a good message for Christians who want to turn their hearts toward God. However, while trains can only be found on tracks, God can be found everywhere we remember to take the time to follow the sign’s instructions.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Seventh Beatitude: 

Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.(NKJV)

 

Article nine of eleven part series:

 

by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture

 

Create a “cardboard community” using appliance boxes and/or cartons to create the structures. Emphasize the importance of thinking about all the different needs that must be met in a community of people such as security, health, learning, friendship, and entertainment and be sure that these are represented in the total town.

Design a “peace monument” either on paper or as a model. Discuss where a “peace monument” could be placed in a city, nation, or world.


Art

 

Cut paper to create coupon-book sized sheets, fold, and staple them together to make a peacemakers offering. Brainstorm ways that helping others can make a difference to bring harmony and peace to family, neighborhood, or school relationships. Invite the participants to create a coupon book with a particular family or person in mind. Encourage them to make “coupons” for ways they could offer to be peacemakers: a shoulder rub for a tired parent, an offer to help pick up toys with a sibling, a willingness to be quiet for one hour while the neighbors baby sleeps.

Make a “fingerprint tree” as a symbol of a peacemaking community. Prune an appropriately sized branch from a tree and secure it in plaster of paris in a coffee can or other container. Cut out construction paper leaves and punch a small hole in the stem to pass through a length of string or green ribbon. Have each person make a thumbprint on one leaf and then attach each leaf to the “tree.” Emphasize the importance of being individual peacemakers who join with others to help create the shelter of God’s peace on earth.


Banners/Textiles


Gather flower petals, herbs, small pinecones, or other suitable natural elements and allow them to dry. Mix the elements together and add scented oils or natural fragrances to create potpourri. Place portions of the potpourri in small cloth squares, tie, and give to others as peacemaking gifts. Explain that the mixture of sweet-smelling potpourri represents the coming together of many people to create something good.

Trace each person’s hand on a square of felt. At the top of each finger, have the participants spell out P-E-A-C-E, one letter for each finger. Stitch or glue the felt squares together to create a banner with a title “Peace Is in Our Hands.”


Creative Writing


Use a five-lined diamond shaped poem as a form to reflect on issues that disrupt peace. Writers should choose two words that represent opposite sides of a conflict; these two words become lines one and five of the poem, respectively. Line two should be two words that describe line one. Line four should be two words that describe line five. In the center, line three should be three words that represent what peacemakers can do to resolve the conflict. For example: Gluttony/Too much/Sharing our surplus/Not enough/Starvation.

Write a “peace proclamation” as a declaration of a special day for observing the importance of choosing peacemaking as a way of life. The observance could be for a family, a class, or a congregation. Brainstorm reasons for needing a special day to remember the importance of the seventh Beatitude. Word the formal proclamation by beginning each reason with “Whereas ...” and ending the announcement of the day to be observed with, “Therefore ...”.


Culinary


Plan a “pitch-in picnic.” Share a moveable feast by having everyone bring something to eat. Celebrate the importance of diversity, with each person contributing his or her part to make the meal. Stress that no one contribution is better than another; instead, together each gift adds to the whole effect, just like God’s people who bring their gifts for peacemaking to the world’s table.

Purchase or bake breads representing countries from all around the world, for example: pita bread from the Mediterranean; pumpernickel from Eastern Europe; tortillas from Mexico; or corn bread from the Southern states.


Dance


Choreograph simple movements to songs such as “I've Got Peace like a River” or "When Peace Like A River." Sing and perform the dance for another class or group.

Listen to Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and formulate gestures to interpret the words from the familiar passages. Present excerpts of the speech accompanied by the interpretive movement of an individual or a group.


Drama


Do a dramatic reading of Saint Francis’ prayer, “Lord Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” Assign parts and read expressively varying pitch, rate, and volume.

Role-play the resolution of a conflict following four simple problem solving steps: (1) State facts. Each side takes a turn saying what he or she did in relation to the problem without blaming or talking about anyone else. (2) State needs and wants. Each side explains what he or she needs or wants. (3) Brainstorm possible solutions. Consider all possible ways to resolve the problem. (4)) Make a plan. Decide on a simple step that can help make the situation better and have each side commit to the plan.


Games


Design an icebreaker to use with a group of people as a way for them to get acquainted with each other. Make a list of questions for people to answer about “personal bests” -- like best birthday, best friend, best meal I ever had -- and then direct them to move to different pairings to share their stories.

Select a game from a resource such as A World of Children’s Games by Mary Duckert (New York: Friendship Press, 1993). Try playing a game which children from other countries would play. Discuss how understanding one another’s culture builds our peacemaking skills.


Music


Look in a hymnal or songbook for the Hebrew song, "Shalom Chaverim." Sing both the English and the Hebrew words. Be sure to discuss the meaning of the word "shalom" -- not only as "hello" or "goodbye," but also as the experience of peace -- pronouncing a wish to share all of God's blessings with one another.

Sing a piggyback version of the song "If You're Happy and You Know It," substituting "if you're a peacemakers and you know it …". Choose three actions like give a hug, shake a hand, and shout "Amen!" to accompany each verse.


Photography


Find a film based on the life of a famous peacemaker and watch an excerpt or the entire movie if time permits. Consider such historic figures as George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, Mother Teresa, and Albert Schweitzer. Discuss what the viewers would want to have said about their own lives as peacemakers someday.

Take an instant photograph of each participant; then glue craft sticks together to create a frame. Write or paint the words "God's Peacemaker" as a title on each frame. Add a magnet to the back of each so they can be displayed.


Puppetry


Create a script for a puppet show that would teach younger children about the importance of saying "I'm sorry." Discuss the role an apology plays in the world of peacemaking.

Make sock puppets to represent the lion and the lamb from the Old Testament Scripture passage found in Isaiah 11:6. Let the puppet characters act out the story. Use the script found in the resource Puppet Projects for Scripture Stories (Wezeman, Phyllis Vos. Prescott, AZ: Educational Ministries, 1995.).


Storytelling


Celebrate a diversity day by reading folk tales from other cultures. Discuss the importance of seeing the world from different perspectives in order to promote peacemaking.

Read The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss (New York: Random House, 1984.). Use the war between "those who want to butter their bread on the top" verses "those who want to butter their bread on the bottom" as a springboard to discussing the importance of peacemaking.

 

The Beatitudes:          link back to summary

 

The Eight Beatitude:

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

 

Article ten of eleven part series:

 

by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of useful and practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 

This article continues an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture


Find pictures of the Catacombs and explain the reasons for the first Christians to need to hide in order to conduct their worship services. Discuss how different worship would be if today’s Christians had to use underground areas in order to avoid persecution.

Research the history and structure of the Roman Coliseum, especially in relation to the persecution of Christians. Connect early Christian history and the persecution they endured to Jesus’ teaching in the eighth Beatitude.


Art


Construct a cross from two-inch masonry nails by wrapping them together with thin florist wire. Discuss the ultimate persecution Jesus endured as a result of his faithfulness to God’s message. Suggest that the cross of nails can remind artists that God is faithful. Jesus was raised from the dead and the cross is empty because of God’s power and love. Our calling as Christians is to remain faithful to God even though we, too, will face persecution.

Make a lantern with a tin can. Draw Christian symbols like a cross or a fish on the outside of a clean, empty can. Fill the can with water and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer, and before the ice melts, use a hammer and nail to punch holes around the symbol’s outline. Once the ice has melted and the tin can is dry, add a votive candle and enjoy the light shining through the symbols. Discuss that in our lives, persecution provides us with the opportunity to “let our light shine.”


Banners/Textiles


Design a prayer cloth to give as a gift to someone who is suffering. Use a four by four inch piece of cloth and add words with fabric markers or paint. Choose words from the eighth Beatitude to inscribe the cloth and encourage the recipient to endure life’s trials that can result from the pursuit of righteousness.

Make a large cardboard loom and add string to create the warp. Weave light colors through the string, adding in dark threads or strips of cloth to create a design. Explain that our lives are made of both light, joyful times as well as dark, difficult times. However, Jesus helps us understand that, like the dark strands, persecution is part of the pattern of the Christian life.


Creative Writing


Challenge writers to “describe the indescribable.” Ask the participants to imagine the great reward in heaven that Jesus promises for those who endure persecution for the sake of righteousness. In groups or as individuals, write a paragraph that attempts to capture the glory promised in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Create an acrostic poem from the word "rejoice." Ask the students to think of a word that begins with each letter r-e-j-o-i-c-e, and that help us to understand the message of Matthew 5:11. List the words that spell out "rejoice," and share the poems created.


Culinary


Blend ingredients to make cookie dough with a pastry blender or mixer. Discuss how each ingredient “disappears” as the dough comes together. Explain that as Christians we need to be in the world, but not of the world. We need to remain faithful and distinct even though the going gets tough. Add ingredients like coated chocolate candies to the cookie dough and stir. Point out that, like Christians, the candies hold their identity even as they are blended into the mix. Bake the cookies and enjoy.

Offer the participants a taste of juice or fruit flavored drink. Ask what they think will happen if they add water to the drink. Keep adding more water to the mixture and tasting it. Discuss that when something is “watered down” it loses its flavor. Make the connection to Jesus’ teaching in the eighth beatitude. Explain that we must remain faithful to God and not “water down” our beliefs when we find it difficult to follow Jesus.


Dance


Invite a line dance instructor to teach a simple dance routine. Discuss the group’s use of a “side step” in line dancing. Connect their dance routine to the common tendency to “side-step the issues.” Explain that Jesus makes it clear that Christians must face tough situations and not side step or back down when controversy comes.

Play an inspiring musical selection and ask the participants to “leap for joy” as they respond to the music. Make the point that Jesus says in Matthew 5:12a that we should “rejoice” and “be glad” when we are persecuted because of our faith. Talk about the scholar’s translation of the Greek verb agalliasthai, which -- according to William Barclay -- comes from two Greek words that mean "to leap exceedingly".


Drama


Design a “newscast” script to be performed in which reporters “in the field” recount the bravery of Christians, either actual or composite in dramatic or everyday situations, who boldly face persecution for their faith.

View the scene from the Henry V, performed by Kenneth Branagh, to hear the stirring Saint Crispin’s Day speech. Discuss the kind of commitment that Henry inspired in his followers to get them to face the challenge of the battle of Agincourt. Connect the unforgettable challenge found in Shakespeare’s play to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:10-12.


Games


Construct, or have the students construct, an obstacle course either indoors with chairs and boxes or outside with old tires and saw horses. Run several contests to see which individual or team can surmount the obstacles with the best time. Relate the experience of the obstacle course to the Christian life. Remind the participants of Jesus’ teaching in the eighth beatitude that his disciples must expect persecution and difficulty as they live their faith.

Play a Christian variation of the “Fear Factor” reality show. Design challenges to role play that would require a great deal of fortitude for Christians to perform. Tasks could include social situations requiring such responses as “tell a friend what your faith means to you,” or mental tasks like “recite a Bible verse by heart.”


Music


Sing the verses to the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” Share the story of the hymn using the message found in the book Hymn Stories for Children: Special Days and Holidays. (Wezeman, Phyllis Vos and Anna L. Liechty. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994.) Invite the participants to consider what it would mean to dedicate “my soul, my life, my all” to Christ.

Teach the participants to sing the round “Rejoice in the Lord Always” based on Philippians 4:4. Ask them to consider what “always” means in light of the eighth beatitude.


Photography


Look for information about Jane Addams, founder of the Hull House in Chicago, Illilnois. View photographs of the building and of Ms. Addams by using the "images" option to search the Internet. Tell the story of her witness on the South Side of Chicago, as she sacrificed to live out her faith with those she felt called to serve.

View before and after pictures of the site of the Berlin Wall. Discuss the courage of those who spoke for freedom and justice in the face of the Cold War hostilities. Ask how we need to speak for freedom and justice in God’s name today, and look for photographs of places that challenge us to speak as God’s people on earth.


Puppetry


Create puppets to tell the courageous story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found in Daniel 3.

Make large circles, each marked with an “M,” to serve to tell the stories of “Missionaries & Martyrs.” Develop a puppet script based on telling about famous examples of each “M & M.” Examples to develop include, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, Joan of Arc, or modern examples such as Jim Elliot or Nate Saint and other martyrs of the Ecuador mission.


Storytelling


Ask denominational resource people about missionaries who might be available to come and tell their story.

Read Old Testament stories of the prophets who stood up for their faith despite persecution, like Jeremiah, Daniel, and Elijah.

 

The Beatitudes:                                              link back to summary

 

A Summary of the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:3-11

 

Article eleven of eleven part series:

 

by Anna L. Liechty & Phyllis Vos Wezeman

 

Summary:

Twelve methods, with two suggestions for each, offer a variety of practical ideas for exploring and developing activities and for tailoring experiences related to the lesson’s focus.

 
This article concludes an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11), including an overview of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), an overview of the eight statements, an in-depth look at each Beatitude, and a concluding summary. Christian Educators, as well as Pastors, will find helpful materials for teaching children, youth, and adult classes.

 



Architecture


Invite a builder or brick mason to demonstrate how to lay a foundation. If appropriate, examine the foundation of the church building and discuss its condition. Relate the importance of a building’s foundation to the importance of the Beatitudes as the foundation for the Christian’s faith.

Visit the sanctuary to view the pulpit. Discuss the design and placement of the pulpit in relation to its purpose in the church. Contrast the outdoor setting for the Sermon on the Mount with the interior setting for today’s preachers, and point out the difference in the ancient tradition of the rabbi’s sitting down to teach in comparison to the formal stance the pulpit requires.


Art


Create a mural that portrays each of the Beatitudes in sequence. Assign small groups with the challenge to design a visual representation of one of the Beatitudes. Have them draw and/or paint their scenes on paper, cardboard, or sheets of foam core. Display the artwork in a hallway or on a large wall in the church building.

Sculpt symbols from Wikki Stix, a type of wax covered yarn, in response to each of the Beatitudes. For example, shape a heart to represent the “pure in heart,” or a figure bowing to suggest the meek. Allow the participants to design and explain their sculptures. Point out that the Beatitudes should shape our lives as Christians.


Banners/Textiles


Cut bookmark-sized strips from burlap or other sturdy cloth. If desired, pull a few threads to fray the edges. With paint pens or indelible ink add words or phrases taken from the Beatitudes, indicate the Biblical passage Matthew 5:1-11, or calligraphy “Sermon on the Mount” on the bookmark. Remind the participants to mark Jesus’ sermon in their Bibles to re-read and review the lessons learned.

Design “Be-attitude T-shirts” with messages and/or symbols to represent the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Use fabric paint to add words and designs inspired by the Beatitudes to the T-shirt. Consider turning the T-shirts inside out before decorating in order to make the statement that listening to Jesus’ message turns our lives around.


Creative Writing


Make a list of questions that stem from the study of the Beatitudes and send them to the pastor. Invite the leader to come to the class for a time of conversation inspired by the questions.

Turn each lesson of the Beatitudes into a prayer, for example the challenge to be pure in heart could become, “Lord, I depend on you.”


Culinary


Boil chicken pieces to create stock for soup. Discuss the meaning of the word "distill." Explain that the Sermon on the Mount distills the teachings of Jesus for his disciples. Brainstorm all the dishes that could be made from the chicken stock. Challenge modern disciples to discover ways to build happy lives using the essence of Jesus’ message in the Beatitudes.

Celebrate the study of the Beatitudes with a “haystacks” recipe for creating an edible mountain. Begin with a layer of rice; next, add a layer of creamed chicken. To build the “mount,” provide ingredients such as chopped tomato, green onions, green olives, pineapple chunks, chow mein noodles, slivered almonds, green pepper pieces, and coconut. Let the participants mound the ingredients of their choice and enjoy the mountain they create. Remember to connect their celebration to the culmination of the study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.


Dance/Gesture/Movement


Determine gestures to portray each message of the Beatitudes. Practice the motions until they can be performed fluidly. Have someone read the Beatitudes while the group supports the reading with the choreographed movements.

Walk in place to remember the dual message of the Beatitudes: to combine prayer with action. Explain to the participants that Jesus taught his disciples that they must depend completely on God as they act to change the world. As the marchers raise their right knees to walk in place, instruct them to say “prayer.” As they raise their left knees, have them say “action.” After some marching in place or marching in follow-the-leader fashion, take time to discuss how to build time for prayer in daily life and brainstorm what kind of actions should be the result of depending on God each day.


Drama


Assign each of the eight Beatitudes to a different group, if possible, or give four groups two Beatitudes each. Instruct the groups that they are to create a “tableau,” a three-dimensional still-life picture or scene, to portray the emotion or message in the Beatitude(s) they were assigned. After time to rehearse, have the groups assemble their tableaus and hold their position in a “freeze frame” while someone reads the Beatitude depicted.

Create a “reader’s theater” of the Beatitudes using different translations and paraphrases of Matthew 5:1-11. Focus on one Beatitude at a time, reading dramatically from several texts. If enough voices are available, assign a different voice to each translation.


Games


Build a human pyramid while reciting the eight Beatitudes. While someone reads, add one person for each part of Jesus’ teaching until there are four on the first row, three on the second row, and one on the top. The person on top could hold up a sign that says, “Be happy!”

Create a memory game by writing each Beatitude twice, once on each of two 3x5 cards or on two squares of construction paper, creating two sets of cards for a matching game. Shuffle the cards and place them face down. Contestants must remember where the cards are as they take turns trying to create “matches.” When a player turns up one card, he or she may turn up one other card trying to find the same Beatitude. If the cards match, the player takes those two cards from the board. If they do not match, the player must return the cards to the face down position. The player with the most matches, is the winner.


Music


Challenge the participants to create a rhythm for reciting the message of the Beatitudes. Choose a phrase to repeat, such as “Blessed are you if you ...” and then complete the line by paraphrasing the words from the Sermon on the Mount. Use rhythm sticks, bongos, clapping hands, or finger snaps to keep the rhythm going.

Teach the terms “prelude” and “postlude” to the participants and ask them to become aware of the use of music at the opening and closing of a service of worship. Discuss the importance of music to set the tone and inspire listeners, even listen to samples and discuss which might fit better as an opening or closing and why. Connect the idea to the Beatitudes by explaining that some see the sermon as the prelude in Matthew to the story of Jesus’ life. Discuss also that the Beatitudes can also be seen as a postlude, a stirring message for disciples as they go back into the world to live out Christ’s teachings.


Photography


Explain that a photographer tries to communicate an attitude when he or she captures a person or event in a picture. Discuss what kinds of attitudes Christians should portray if they live by Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Suggestions might include: an attitude of prayer, an attitude of service, or an attitude of joy. Challenge the photographers to take pictures of the kinds of attitudes they discuss. If possible, use a digital camera to take photographs in and around the church to convey the Beatitudes in action.

Show the participants photographs from an art photography book in which the photographer has worked with shadow and light to capture patterns found in the world around us: a fence, a tile floor, a bridge, or a ripple in the water. Discuss that patterns can be found everywhere, but that we might miss them or ignore them unless someone draws our attention to them or creates a focus for us. Explain that the same is true in our spiritual life as well. In the Beatitudes, Jesus creates a pattern for us to recognize and understand what a happy life contains, so that we can follow that pattern in our own lives.


Puppetry


Cut from poster board shapes to represent Jesus, the disciples, and the crowd. Tape a straw to each shape in order to hold the figure to create a shadow puppet. Create a screen by suspending a sheet; then shine a light from behind so that in the front the audience sees only the shadow puppet as it moves between the screen and the light source. A screen can also be designed by covering an opening in a large box with white paper and shining the light from behind the box as described. As someone reads the story of the Sermon on the Mount, dramatize the words using the shadow puppets.

Make a “bee” puppet from felt to help review the Bee-attitudes. Challenge everyone to "Bee Buzz-y" learning how to "Bee" happy just as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.


Storytelling


Emphasize the stories of modern-day people whose lives demonstrate that heavenly rewards are more important than earthly prizes. Consider contemporary stories like that of Corrie Ten Boom whose family sought to help their Jewish neighbors despite the dangers that they faced by doing what was right.

Find examples of people from both the Old and New Testament whose lives exemplified each of the Beatitudes. For example, the story of Ruth in the Old Testament gives an excellent representation of living out Jesus’ challenge to be happy by being meek. The story of Esther could be used to exemplify hungering and thirsting after righteousness, as she sought to do the right thing for her people.

 

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