The Great Commandment
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Children will prepare very short dramas using puppets in which the puppet characters are failing to love God, neighbor, or self.
- Children will be able to find the Great Commandment in the three synoptic gospels.
- Children will be able to identify the three “loves” of the Great Commandment – God, neighbor, self.
- Children will apply the Great Commandment to a number of modern social situations.
- Puppet “stage” (i.e. table covered with a cloth)
We have seven puppets, two grandparents, two kids, two homemade kids or parents, and a biblically clothed male, who for the purpose of this lesson is Jesus.
- Assemble puppets, prepare “stage” and copy scripts.
- Decide if you will be using scripts as written, scripts to give the kids suggestions, or situations only.
- Write the following scriptures references on five different note cards. Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31; Deuteronomy 6:4; Leviticus 19:18
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
A Quick Game: Lay out Bibles and place the five note cards face down. Tell the children that when you give the signal, they are to turn over their note card and look up the verse in their Bibles as quickly as possible. Tell them if they find the “Great Commandment” or any part of it they are supposed to point to the verse and raise their hand. (All five verses contain the great commandment, or part of it, so all children should be raising their hands.) Have each group read what is written in their verse.
Does it surprise you that the Great Commandment appears so many times in the Bible? Explain that in today’s lesson, you will be thinking about the Great Commandment as it might apply to some real life situations.
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Using the scripts attached below, children will act out the situation on the script.
At the end of each script, the Jesus puppet quotes the Great Commandment and says “what part of this Great Commandment do you think (characters) need to listen to – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” and “What would you tell them to do next?”
Script Subject Love
-------- --------- ------
Leaf Raking Company Love of Money God
My Little Brother Fighting with siblings neighbor
Everybody’s Doing It Peer pressure self
Too Tired Spiritual Disciplines God
All Around the World Helping people in far neighbor
You’re Important, Too Take care of your self
These scripts are very short, just a few lines. After you have worked through them once and answered Jesus’ question, you can move onto the life application. If the skits take longer than expected, just pick three. You only need two or three students per script – students can operate up to two puppets each.
There are several possible ways to do these skits, which require different amounts of time, creativity, and reading ability. Choose the level which will work best for your group.
(1) Give children the scenario, but let them come up with the dialogue.
(2) Give the children the script and have them read through it, or read through it together. For the performance, however, don’t read the script word for word, but let them develop their own dialogue.
(3) Have the children read the scripts word for word as they act out the drama.
(4) You and another adult read the scripts, while the children do the actions with the puppets.
Encourage children to give their puppets expression – how would you show confusion? Surprise? Fear?
Take turns sharing the puppet performances. Encourage the audience to answer Jesus’ questions at the end of each skit.
- Which of these stories sound like something you’ve faced?
- Does knowing the Great Commandment make it easier or harder in those situations?
- Sit in a circle with students and ask them to think of other situations that they could make into a puppet show. Hand out puppets to anyone who would like to try.
Adjustments for age levels and abilities:
Early readers may have a harder time reading scripts. Consider bringing in youth or adults to act out one or more of the puppet plays, then giving the children the situations and letting them ad lib their own story line. Alternative is to read the script yourself, and simply have the children act as puppeteers.
If you have extra time…
Make more of a production out of one of the children’s situations, or one of the scripts.
If time runs short…
There are two scripts on each of the commandments. You only need three. Also, there may be one area (God, neighbor, self) that doesn’t need to be emphasized as much.
There might be other Great Commandment issues that you would like to see the children tackle. Feel free to write your own scripts or situations, or encourage the children to come up with some of their own.
End with a prayer.
Script: Leaf Raking Company
Jack: (raking leaves) I really love the fall.
Jill: (also raking) I do, too.
Jack: Yeah, it’s so pretty this time of year. Beautiful colors on the trees. The air is cool, but not freezing, the smell and crunch of…
Jill: All the money.
Jack: Yeah, the… huh? What do you mean the smell and crunch of money?
Jill: I make a lot of money raking leaves in the fall.
Jack: Really? Wow, I never thought of doing that. I guess that would be a good idea.
Jill: It’s great. And I want to rake in as much as I can (nudging Jack) – rake it in…get it:
Jack: Yeah, I get it.
Jill: I love all the money I make. Money is great. Money is power. If you have money you can do anything. If you have money people respect you. There is nothing more important than money! Hey, I have an idea! Let’s start our own leaf raking company. Think of the possibilities.
Jack: I just like raking leaves.
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, an interesting story. What does it seem like Jill loves more than anything? (wait for answers)
Jesus: What part of this Great Commandment do you think Jill needs to listen to – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children
Jesus: What would you tell them to do next?
Script: My Little Brother
Tonya: (pretending to roll dice for Trivia game) A six.
Alice: (reading Trivia card) What river is mentioned more than any other in the Bible?
Billy: I wanna play, I wanna play.
Tonya: No, Billy, go away. This game is for big kids.
Alice: It’s okay, we could make his questions true or false.
Tonya: No, let him do something else.
Billy: I wanna play. Tonya won’t let me play. Mommy! (he runs away)
Tonya: The river Jordan.
Alice: Right. (puts card away) You know, it would be okay to let your brother play.
Tonya: He’s such a pest, I can’t stand him. (rolls dice) Three. For the yellow wedgie.
Billy: (enters) Mommy says you have to let me play with you.
Tonya: Get out of here you little stinker.
Billy: Mommy said.
Tonya: You’re in the way. GET OUT! (shoves Billy)
Billy: (starts to throw a temper tantrum and knocks over game) I don’t like Tonya. I don’t like your stinky game.
Tonya: MOM! Billy’s ruining everything!
Billy: (starts to cry and stomps off)
Tonya: (fixes gameboard and sits down next to Alice)
Alice: (reading from card) Okay, for the yellow wedge. What is the Great Commandment?
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, do you know the Great Commandment? (wait for answers)
Jesus: What part of this Great Commandment do you think Tonya needs to listen to – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children
Jesus: What would you tell Tonya and Billy to do next?
Script: Everybody’s Doing It
Chris: Hey, Davy, good to see you dude.
Davy: What are you doing?
Amy: We’re making our own skateboard park.
Chris: What’ya think?
Chris: You start up here, then you go down the hill on these boards, and when you get to the bottom there’s some old sheet metal that curls up, sort of like a half tube.
Amy: And after you flip over that, you land on the bridge railing and go over the river.
Chris: It’s awesome.
Amy: You gotta try it.
Davy: I don’t know. My mom doesn’t like me doing crazy stuff on the skateboard.
Chris: It’s not crazy, it’s fun.
Davy: And I don’t even have my helmet.
Amy: Everyone’s doing it.
Chris: Just give it a try.
Amy: If you don’t like it, you don’t have to try it again.
Chris: What, you think you’re too good for us?
Davy: It’s not that. Well…
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, it looks like Davy’s friends really want him to be part of the group. What part of this Great Commandment do you think Davy needs to think about – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children)
Jesus: If Davy doesn’t love himself, that is, take care of his own safety, will he have the chance to love his neighbor? (wait for answers) Why not?
Jesus: When else might it be important to “love yourself?”
Script: Too Tired
Terry: (stretch yawn, turns on TV and sits down) Let’s see what’s on TV.
Steve: (enters) Hey, turn that off, it’s time for church.
Terry: Church? I don’t think I’m going. I have a lot of homework to do.
Steve: (looks at TV) Homework? Since when do teachers assign WWF?
Terry: (turns off TV) That? Oh, I was just relaxing a bit before I started my homework.
Steve: You missed last week, too.
Terry: I had a soccer tournament.
Steve: Going to church is important. Don’t you love God?
Terry: Yeah, I love God. God knows that. I don’t have to PROVE it to anyone. Besides, there are other ways to show God I love him.
Steve: Like what?
Terry: Like saying my prayers and reading my Bible.
Steve: Did you say your prayers last night?
Terry: Not LAST night, I was too tired when I got home. But usually.
Steve: And exactly WHERE is your Bible?
Terry: Right by my bed.
Steve: (shakes his head slowly)
Steve: It’s on top of the dryer in the laundry room!
Terry: How’d it get there?
Steve: I don’t know but it’s been sitting there for over a month!
Terry: (yawns, stretches, turns on the TV) Okay. I’ll go get it later. What time will you be home?
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, it looks like Terry’s going to watch his/her TV show. What part of this Great Commandment do you think Terry needs to think about – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children)
Jesus: What do you think of Terry’s statement “I don’t have to PROVE <that I love God> to anyone? (wait for answers)
Jesus: What would you tell Terry?
Script: All Around the World
Paul: (busy packing a box)
Rita: What are you packing?
Paul: Crayons, paper, pencils, shampoo, soap, hairbrush, toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Rita: That’s a weird combination.
Paul: It’s for my church’s mission partners in Ecuador. These are the things they said the kids needed, so I’m packing up a box for them.
Rita: Why are you sending things to kids in Ecuador?
Paul: Because they need it?
Rita: Aren’t there kids in our own town who need help?
Paul: Yes. We do things for them, too.
Rita: Why don’t you do more for them and forget about Ecuador?
Paul: Because the kids in Ecuador need help, too.
Rita: Let the people in Ecuador worry about the people in Ecuador. We have enough problems right here.
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, it sounds like Rita needs to look at the Great Commandment. What part of this Great Commandment do you think Rita needs to think about – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children)
Jesus: Do you think “neighbor” only refers to people who live near us? (wait for answers)
Jesus: If you were Paul, what would you say to Rita?
Script: You’re Important, Too
Rusty: (sounds like he has a cold) I’ve got to take the kids to church. Then I’m going to run Mrs. McGregor over to the doctor’s office – she’s not been feeling well lately.
Ruth: (feels his forehead) Looks like you should stop in and see the doctor yourself, Rusty.
Rusty: It’s just a little cold. The Meals on Wheels needs an extra driver, so I’ll make some meal runs while Mrs. McGregor is at the doctor. Then when I take her home, I was going to stop off at the grocery store and buy some food for that family who lost everything in that fire.
Ruth: That’s very nice of you Rusty, but…
Rusty: The choir called and asked if I could come out for the holiday chorus, so I’ll go over there next.
Ruth: Sing? With YOUR sore throat?
Rusty: And I can bring the kids back home with me. Then, I’ll help you take down those Christmas lights, unless I’m still feeling dizzy.
Rusty: Just a little. I’ve been seeing these spots in front of my eyes all day – funny spots, look kinda like orange elephants.
Ruth: Rusty, I think you should forget all these things and go to bed.
Rusty: Go to bed? But people are depending on me!
Ruth: Rusty, I don’t think doing all these things is such a good idea.
Rusty: Of course it’s a good idea. God wants us to help our neighbor.
Jesus: (to audience) Hmmm, it sounds like Ruth and Rusty are looking at different parts of the Great Commandment. What part of this Great Commandment do you think Rusty is acting on – love of God, love of neighbor, or love of self?” (wait for answers from the children) What about Ruth?
Jesus: What would you tell Rusty and Ruth?
A lesson posted by Lisa Martin from: Trinity Church of Christ
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.