Theme: We can never be orphaned because God has adopted us as His sons and daughters. He cherishes each and every life.
Scripture: John 14:15-21
Materials: Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major (or any other piece by Bach), a slideshow or printed cards of famous orphans
Opening: Have children sit in a circle. Introduce yourself. Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world. This candle reminds us that God is here with us.” Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.
Lesson: Who can tell me what it means to be an “orphan”. What does it mean to be adopted? Allow and guide answers as necessary. To be orphaned means that a person has lost both of their parents either through death or through other circumstances. The life and future of an orphan can be very uncertain, because people are so shaped by those who love and take care of them. Adoption is an amazing thing for an orphan. When someone is adopted by a new family, that family cares for them in the very same way they care and love their own children.
Begin music. We are going to have a little history lesson and learn about three orphans whose lives would have been very different had it not been for the families who adopted them. The first little boy we are going to talk about was orphaned when he was nine years old. After moving half way across the United States, he was adopted by an uncle who taught him the importance of hard work. Forty-four years later, after many different jobs and experiences, this little boy became the thirty-first president of the United States, Herbert Hoover. He was President in a very difficult time but is known for creating many job opportunities and helping the poorest families during the Great Depression.
The next little boy was born as a slave and was kidnapped with his mother and sister when he was only one week old! The master who owned this little boy’s family searched for his missing slaves but only found the little baby. Fortunately for the little baby, this white family adopted him and raised him as their own son. For the time they were in, this was a very strange and dangerous thing for a white family to do, but they cared for and taught this little boy until he left home to attend school. This little boy became a great scientist known for his work with farmers and peanuts; his name was George Washington Carver.
The last little boy we are going to talk about was orphaned when he was ten years old. After he lost his parents, he was adopted by his oldest brother, who was a great musician. While shadowing his older brother, this little boy learned all about music, how to play many different types of instruments, and met many famous composers. When he grew up, he wrote many beautiful pieces of music, including the one we are listening to now – his name was Johann Sebastian Bach.
None of these men could have achieved what they did without someone realizing that their lives were valuable and that they were worth the time and effort to raise them. In the same way, God, our Heavenly Father, sees value in our lives and has adopted us as His sons and daughters. Jesus told his disciples that he would not leave them as orphans, and because Jesus conquered death, he has not been separated from us. He also sent his Holy Spirit to be with us – so we might feel alone, sad or scared sometimes, but we will never be without the comfort of God, our Father who loves and cares for us as much as he loves and cares for his own son, Jesus.
Closing Prayer: Dear God, thank you so much for bringing us into your family. Thank you for showing us that we are loved and cherished in your eyes. Help us to treat everyone in our lives with that same love and respect, and teach the world that everyone is worthwhile. Amen.
~ Family Study Guide ~
Monday – verse 15
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
- Why do we have rules or commandments? What would life (at home, at school, on the road, etc.) be like if there were no rules? What is the purpose of commandments in the Bible for us today?
- This passage in John comes after Jesus tells his disciples that he will soon die. He asks them to remember all that he has taught them and reminds them that the natural actions of loving him are doing the things he commanded. As a family, pray that you will cherish the words of God in your heart and that you will live out the commandments, rules, in your daily lives.
Tuesday – verses 16-17
“and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
- Why do you think Jesus thought it was necessary to send the Holy Spirit, the Helper, to the disciples after he left the earth? Did he not trust that they could spread the Word by themselves?
- Obviously, we cannot do anything in our own power – we need the help of the Holy Spirit. Discuss how the Holy Spirit can help you with something difficult you are facing now. Pray together for each other and for the Holy Spirit to guide and direct you in whatever path you directed.
Wednesday – verses 18-19
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
- Jesus is saying that even though he will die, he will not be leaving, or orphaning us. How is his death different?
- To us, Jesus’ resurrection is a miracle, something only he could do. He lives! But why do we, ordinary people, get to share in his victory, his life after death? Thank God tonight, as a family, for the amazing love God demonstrated by having his only Son die the death that was meant for us.
Thursday – verse 20
“In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
- Cover your eyes with your fingers. How much can you see? Would you be able to move around very well? Of course not! Jesus said many things to his disciples that confused them, but here he was telling them that soon everything will be made clear, and they will be able to understand.
- Is there something in the Bible, or something Jesus has said that confuses you? Talk about it as a family and then pray that the Holy Spirit will make God’s Word clear to you.
Friday – verse 21
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
- Have you ever heard the phrase, “Your actions speak louder than your words”? What does it mean? How does following Jesus’ commandments show that we love him?
- Look up the word “manifest”. What does it mean? How will Jesus manifest himself to us today? (Remember, it can also be a feeling.) As a family, pray that your love for Christ will be made clear to everyone through your actions and that Jesus will send us his comfort and love.
Saturday – Prepare for Worship
Together, review and reflect on this week’s lesson from John 14. Did anything profoundly affect you? Did any verses stick with you? Did any of the discussions or prayers affect your bond as a family?
Preview the reading for Sunday, Luke 4:14-21. This reading cannot be found in the children’s Bibles, but you may consider using the NIV or The Message if you have younger children. Ask them if they have any questions about the passage. Help clarify where you can, and write down any questions to which you do not know the answers. It would be wonderful for you to take those questions to church and see if they are answered in the sermon. If they are not, have your child ask your minister after the service. I can guarantee that he will be thrilled!