This is part 3 in our 5 part series for families to do Bible study at home to prepare for 1st Communion. Before reading this:
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
Our passage for this week: Luke 15:11-24
Pre-reading: Make connections
A very short introduction helps kids make connections as they read, and focus as they listen.
We are even closer to the special day when you will be welcomed to the table of the Good Shepherd. In our last study, we remembered how the Shepherd finds the sheep, and the Woman finds her coin. God rejoices when you return in the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
We will remember that today, and also think more deeply about how much God loves us.
Today we will listen to a Father who has a son that hurt him. We will hear about how the Father continues to love and forgive him. We can think about how forgiveness helps love continue to grow.
You can also make a personal connection: “Have you ever had a time when someone hurt you? Did they apologize? 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.
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.
“Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.“
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 the Father responds to those who are lost. Like the Good Shepherd or the Searching Woman, God the Father 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 “estate” mean?
- What is similar between this and the Found Sheep or Found Coin. What is different?
- How does the son make the choice to come back? The Bible says, “coming to his senses…”. What helps us choose God over other things?
- This passage ends with a celebration again! How do they celebrate? “With a feast” What feast allows us to celebrate God’s never-ending love for us?
- 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 son who wanted to leave?
- Let’s recall your First Reconciliation. How did it feel to say “I have sinned“? And what did God say to you in return, through the Priest?
- How does Reconciliation prepare us to be at the table of God in First Communion? How does the found sheep reconnect with the flock? Or the returning son with the rest of the family?
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 ready to love us and forgive us! 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.
- 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!
- I made 2D figures of this parable that you can paint:
- 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 pigs! What is it like to raise pigs? They are so dirty! Our parish has lots of families with pigs, especially those in 4H. You can talk about how pigs eat, and love to roll in mud. Think about what it would smell like to care for them, or how it would feel to be so hungry you wanted to eat pig slop.
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. Or simply, “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 sing “He Ran to Me”