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Each week is designed to be completed in an hour. The primary lesson and craft is for Kindergarten through 3rd grade. The advanced material is designed for the older ages, 4th and 5th grade and above, to understand the lesson more deeply. The third activity, for Tweens and Teens, is designed to understand how the message of the lesson impacts each of their lives.
Week #1: Confidence in New Life
During the Spring, we see renewal in the plants, animals, trees, all around us. This renewal comes every year, without fail. Just as the world renews and grows, you can have confidence in your growth. You can have confidence in the growth you see in the world around you. This month we are going to focus on the Easter season and how renewal happens in every part of life. During spring we see renewal in the world around us: trees budding with new leaves, grass turning green again, seedlings (baby plants) poking out of the ground, birds laying eggs. The Parable, or story, of the Seed Growing Secretly demonstrates that plants grow in an orderly process until they are full grown and can flower or make fruit. . The same is true for Jesus’s life and your life and my life. It's true for ALL life!
Jesus taught us that to be able to really renew our lives we must be dedicated to God and understand that God is Love. Jesus showed this in many ways. He did things because in his heart he knew they were the right thing to do. We will see examples of this later this month when we talk about the choices he made and the things he did and said during what Christians call Holy Week: the days we call Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. He followed the feelings deep inside that helped him know what help he could give to other people and also what he needed to take good care of himself. He was kind and honest to his friends. He treated everyone like they were important, because they are - we are all made out of the same "God-stuff" and we are all the same inside. Jesus was dedicated to knowing God inside him and to knowing God was inside everyone else, too. Jesus didn’t just tell his friends his connection to God, he demonstrated this connection so his friends would discover their connection.
All month we've been talking about how springtime is a time of renewal - of making old things new again. Many religions celebrate holidays about renewal in the spring. One of the biggest spring celebrations is Easter. Easter celebrates the renewal Jesus experienced. He showed us that we can renew our lives all the time, even when things feel hard or like they're falling apart. We are always growing in God inside.
Butterflies are good examples of renewal, of making things new again. Butterflies start out as caterpillars, and then they spin a special "house" called a cocoon, around themselves. While they're inside of that, it seems like they've died. Their bodies dissolve. but after a while, they grow a new body with beautiful wings, and when they come out of the cocoon, they can do things and see things they never could before. They can fly! They are totally renewed.
What appears to be bad, or negative might really be a great gift. Just like a caterpillar in a cocoon seems to be in trouble, there is something more happening that the caterpillar can't see. Even though it seems that the caterpillar is sick or broken or falling apart, it really isn't. It is actually being built into a whole new self. In the middle of this confusing time it seems bad things are happening. But at the end the caterpillar will come out of the cocoon, completely healed as a beautiful butterfly.
This week is an important week in Christianity and to others who learn from Jesus. Christians call it Holy Week. This week we will follow Jesus from Palm Sunday through what the Christian religion call The Last Supper (the last Jewish Passover celebration dinner that Jesus participated in), Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Jesus knew that this week would change his life forever. He also knew that it was important to the whole world that he do what he knew he had to do and say what he had to say this week. Jesus showed integrity - being truthful, honest, and knowing he was part of the whole Universal Life - by keeping true to his heart and what he knew about God. He was afraid at times, like we all are, but he did not let fear stop him. He thought maybe he could get out of some things, but he chose to go through everything in his week because he knew it was important for his renewal. He also knew his example would be important to the renewal of many, many people around the world. It still is today.
Today is Easter Sunday, a very important day for Christians. It is also an important day for others who learn from Jesus because it is the day where he showed everyone that we are Spirit (God) in form (as humans) and that the God part of us is very powerful. It lives forever. He also showed us that when we believe, really believe, everything can change. Things that seem dead can come back to life. Changing our thoughts changes our lives. Jesus demonstrated a renewal - old things being made new again in a new way - of his whole self. Throughout his life Jesus taught his friends and all the people came to learn from him that God is love, God is in everyone, and that life doesn't ever end. On Easter morning he came out of the cave and visited his friends to show them he had a new body, a spiritual body of light. He showed them he had been renewed and taught that if we will focus our minds on what is true and allow the power of God to work through us and as us, then anything can be made new!
There is no beginning to life, and there is no end. It's like a big circle. There is an unbreakable connection between the form (our bodies and our experiences) and the formless (our spirit). The formless never changes because it is God, and these two parts of us cannot be separated. But the form can always be made new again, or renewed. We'll use the analogy of the chicken and the egg to represent this eternal life.
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Buddha was a man who embarked on the search for truth and experienced enlightenment. Buddhism is a faith with an emphasis on each individual looking at and thinking about our own lives. Buddhism shows us how to understand ourselves and how to cope with our daily problems. Buddha believed that all the sorrow of the world was caused by selfishness. He believed the secret to life is love. This month, we share delightful Zen stories and focus on the basics of the teachings of Buddha.
Week #1: Release and Love- Release desires/wants and concentrate on love of yourself and others. We celebrate Buddha’s life this month on Nirvana Day (February 8 or 15). Nirvana is the idyllic spiritual condition, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist.