This is part 2 in our 5 part series for families to do Bible study at home to prepare for 1st Communion. Before reading this, please check out the explanation on Week 1.
Prepare your bodies and hearts to listen to God’s Word
- Find a comfortable position where you can open up the Bible, write on your paper, and discuss together without your limbs falling asleep.
- Take a deep breath. Remember that God is always with us. We just forget sometimes! Remembering God’s presence with us is prayer.
- Light the candle. When we do this in class, we usually say: “Jesus is the light of the world.”
- If you don’t have a candle to mark the beginning of this time, then make the sign of the cross and say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!”
Find the book, chapter & verse
We have two passages for this week:
- John 15:4-6
- John 15:8-9
Pre-reading: Make connections
A very short introduction helps kids make connections as they read, and focus as they listen.
We are closer to the special day when you will be welcomed to the table of the Good Shepherd. You have already celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and we will remember that today. Now that you have gone once, you can go again any time you feel lost of disconnected from God, even the littlest bit.
These two passages are both similar and different. Listen for these words: found and rejoice. Who says these words? Why do they say these words?
You can also make a personal connection: “Have you ever had a time where you found something lost? How did you feel?” The kids don’t need to provide an answer yet (though they can). Count slowly to 10 before moving on. Often kids just need to take some time in silence to remember how that moment felt.
Read the Bible out loud
Once we find our starting spot, an adult can read the whole thing out loud once without stopping. Kids who are fluent readers can also volunteer to do this. It may help to have two different people read each passage.
Remember: Don’t worry at this point about pronunciation or word spelling. Don’t stop or comment on the reading at this point. If the reader makes a mistake or loses their place, that’s okay! Just pick up where you left off and keep reading! It’s not school, and you’re not being graded.
“Rejoice with me, for I have found what was lost.”
After you read, keep the Bible open. Allow some silence (unless your kid is very talkative!). If the child already wants to talk through things they heard, just follow their conversation.
You may want to blow out the candle, or you can do this at the end of the discussion if it helps focus the conversation. (Definitely blow it out if it becomes a distraction!)
Count to 10 slowly. If silence remains, or the conversation wanders, ask some questions.
The point of this discussion is to think about how God responds to those who are lost. Like the Good Shepherd or the Searching Woman, God is always seeking those who feel lost and separated. Re-read phrases or verses as you discuss to see if the Bible provides the answer:
- What word or words did you hear a lot in this Bible reading? Are there any words you didn’t know yet? What does the word “diligently” mean?
- What is different between these two verses? One is about sheep, and another about a coin.
- In both verses, it ends with a celebration. “Rejoice with me!” What does this tell us about how God takes care of us? How are we called to respond?
- Who is rejoicing with God for you to be called to the table of Jesus?
- Do we ever have moments where we feel like the lost sheep or the lost coin?
- Let’s recall your First Reconciliation. How did you feel after Confession? How do you think God felt?
- How does Reconciliation prepare us to be at the table of God in First Communion?
Count to 10 s l o w l y after each question or comment! Give your kid time to think!
We have some talkers in our group, who won’t even wait until the end of the reading to have questions and comments. That’s fine! Also many kids are quiet, and absorb from listening to others. Silence is okay!
Don’t fill the silence with your words too quickly. If we adults talk first or too much, that prevents kids from thinking their own thoughts and making their own connections. Remember: the point of this Bible study is for kids to start reading the Bible for themselves!
They also don’t need to perform. They can doodle or wiggle. It’s okay if they just listen, or their response isn’t that deep. If they ask a question, then feel free to share your thoughts! Draw them into a conversation. But sometimes seeds need time to grow roots after they’ve been planted.
If you’ve asked several questions with long pauses, re-read some parts of the text, and the conversation still isn’t taking off, try the next section…
Response & extensions
Depending on where the conversation takes you, here are some useful additional ideas.
These activities are completely optional, but are just some helpful suggestions to engage our less-talkative kids.
Remember: the main idea is that God is merciful, always looking to bring back those who have made bad choices! There are lots of right ways to think about God searches for us, and rejoices over our return.
- Grab that paper and pen/markers and ask your child to draw what they hear.
- If you have a printer handy, you can offer these coloring pages of theFound Sheep and the Found Coin.
- For more tactile kids, you might encourage them to act out the scene with figures. I suggest having plain peg dolls handy for this age… they will gladly use their imaginations to fill in the details!
- Short video about finding a lost lamb:
- Read the footnotes: At the beginning, we said to read the passage once out loud while skipping the footnotes. But there’s lots of interesting background information there that can help our understanding of the Bible.
- Road trip to see some sheep! Our parish has lots of families with sheep, especially those in 4H. Also you can take a drive around the area, and see some sheep out grazing in the fields. You can talk about how sheep graze, and also think about how they might get lost or separated.
End in prayer
Before the conversation devolves into a power struggle or eye-rolling boredom (if you catch it in time), remember to end in prayer. You can end by blowing out the candle, or making the sign of the cross.
Ask your child if they have a prayer they would like to say. If not, you could suggest saying an Our Father or Hail Mary together. Even “Jesus is the light of the world.”
In class, we often end our prayer time with a song. Again, see if there are suggestions. You could read Psalm 23:1-4 and sing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN4tPkX0MG0
P.S. FIND THE LOST COIN: Another fun activity is to count out ten coins, then “lose” one in the house… and have another find it. This is more of a game, so make sure you do this after your closing prayer. Also make sure that when the coin is returned, the finder says, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my coin that was lost!”