Happy 4th Sunday of Easter!
Did you know that Psalm 23 and a gospel text about the Good Shepherd are read on the fourth Sunday of Easter every year of the lectionary cycle? That’s why this Sunday is sometimes called “Good Shepherd Sunday.”
Before digging into the details, it is important to recognize that the Good Shepherd is a metaphor—something that we can tell children about, even though it will take time before they can cognitively understand it. That’s because children are mostly literal thinkers until they develop the brain skill of transference which primarily happens in adolescence (age 11+). That being said, the “Good Shepherd” is a key metaphor in the Bible and for Christian life. Therefore, today’s children’s message is aimed at helping children to become familiar with the concrete parts of this metaphor (what shepherds actually do to care for sheep), while suggesting some of the spiritual realities it embodies—trusting that as children grow, their understanding of the connection will also deepen. One encouraging story that indicates that stories of the Good Shepherd make “sense to [children] in some way,” comes from Maria Montessori (author of the Montessori theory of education) who once noted “that while working in a children’s hospital she found that when she told sick children stories about the Good Shepherd using small wooden figures, they almost all grabbed the figure and held onto it ‘for keeps.’”
Below you will find one of the oldest known paintings of Jesus (mid-3rd century) which was painted on the ceiling of a Roman catacomb where early Christians often hid to worship. In the painting, the artist depicts Jesus as a strong young shepherd. This week, I encourage you to talk with your children about what situations you (and people around the world) may have encountered—especially lately—in which we need a strong (Good and Great) Shepherd.
Here are some resources to help your child in worshipping today:
The Children’s Message for April 25th, 2021 will be livestreamed as part of Hope Valley Baptist’s Worship Service for April 25, 2021 on the HVBC YouTube Channel and the HVBC website. The livestream will begin at 10:50am. You will also be able to view a recording of the livestream after the conclusion of the service on the church’s YouTube Channel or website.
A picture of today’s Bible story (The Good Shepherd—Catacomb of Callixtus)