This is part 4 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 (True Vine)
- Family Bible Study: Week 2 (Found Sheep & Found Coin)
- Family Bible Study: Week 3 (Forgiving Father)
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: Matthew 8:5-10
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 celebrate the great feast of the Forgiving Father! In our last study, we considered the great love of the Father for all the children. God rejoices when you return in the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
Today we will think more about this Great Feast, and some special words we say in Mass right before we receive the gift of Holy Communion.
There is a point when the Priest says,
“Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those who are called
to the Supper of the Lamb.”
Reflect on the meaning of these words: “Who is the ‘lamb of God’? Who takes away the sins of the world? Who is called to the Supper of the Lamb? How should we respond to this invitation to the Supper of the Lamb, this great banquet feast?”
The kids don’t need to provide an answer yet (though they can). Count slowly to 10 before moving on. This sets up our next section: “Let’s listen to how someone in Jesus’ time responded to his invitation.”
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.
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. But only say the words and my servant shall be healed.“
After you read, keep the Bible open. Allow some silence (unless your child 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 we respond to the invitation to the Supper of the Lamb. The Centurion gives us an example of prayer that we say in every Mass. 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 “Centurion” mean?
- The Centurion was a Roman soldier, but he addressed Jesus as “Lord.” What does this mean?
- We say a version of his words in Mass. This comes right after the Priest says, “Blessed are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.” Then we respond! Let’s say the words out loud together, and think about what they mean: “Lord, I am not worthy that you shall enter under my roof. But only say the words and my [soul] shall be healed.”
- How does Jesus heal our soul? How does that prepare us to participate in this Feast?
- Right after these words, we are invited to come up and receive the Supper of the Lamb. We end with a celebration again! How do we celebrate? “With a feast” What feast allows us to celebrate God’s never-ending love for us?
- Do we ever have moments where we feel like the son who wanted to leave?
- How does do we feel about being invited to the Supper of the Lamb 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 Jesus invites us to the Supper of the Lamb. How do we respond? There are many right answers here about how we feel and how we can love God in some small way in return for God’s love for us.
- Grab that paper and pen/markers and ask your child to draw what they hear.
- For more visual and tactile kids, you might look at some photos of a Roman Centurion.
- For a tactile activity, you can also get an unpainted tin miniatures to paint, which some of our artists would love! I got mine from Tin Warriors on Etsy (along with several others for a bulk discount).
- Here is another example of a painted plastic miniature historical Centurion, which might be a nice addition to a child’s collection if they enjoy figures (as we do in our house!), especially for a First Communion gift:
- 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.
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 repeating the Centurion’s prayer 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. It would be appropriate to sing the “Lamb of God” which comes right before this prayer in Mass. Here is one version by Matt Maher with lyrics and lovely visuals: