Here are ideas for you to use in reflecting on the upcoming Sunday’s scriptures with your classes.
- Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
- Romans 8:1b-34
- Mark 9:2-10
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b)
St. Paul provides a mantra for encouragement.
Teaching for Primary Grades:
1. Elicit from the children their experiences when they knew someone was on their side (for example, a parent believing
the child’s explanation for a mistake, a friend sticking with them while they went through a difficult time, and so on). Tell them that Jesus promised to be with us always, and he taught that God is like a loving parent. When we face troubles of any kind, God is on our side.
2. Using as a mantra “God is on my side,” lead the children in a celebration of God’s love. First, tell them to complete these statements:
■ God will be with me when …
■ God believes in me because …
■ God hears me if …
3. Give each child materials to make a small sign, printing one of those statements that they would like to march with. Lead a march around the classroom with children holding their signs and chanting the mantra.
Teaching for Intermediate Grades:
1. Read Romans 8:31b-34. Tell the students to focus on St. Paul’s idea that God is on our side always. Write on the board: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Imagine God cheering for us during all of life’s events: our struggles to succeed, our efforts to make friends, our decision-making moments, and so on.
2. Assign students to groups of three or four and tell each group to create a cheer using the quote from the board or a similar phrase. They will perform their cheer for the class, so provide a practice space. What gestures, movements, and words would they like to use to convey the encouragement that quote from Romans is meant to give? When groups are ready, they can share their cheers.
Teaching for Secondary Grades:
1. Ask a student to read Romans 8:31b-34. Take some quiet minutes for students to write down the theme they detect in this reading. Then elicit their responses. Write on the board:
Jesus died for us.
God acquits us.
Jesus intercedes for us.
Tell students to imagine a courtroom where they are on trial and Jesus is their defense attorney. Why are they on trial? What does Jesus say in their defense? God is the judge. Does God acquit them? Why? They can record in their journals the scene they have imagined.
2. Play meditation music while students are writing. When they have finished their journal entries, read Romans 8:31b. Provide art materials, inviting students to express through art the encouragement they feel from St. Paul’s words. Display their finished work.
Sr. Karen Berry is a Joliet Franciscan, a former teacher of high school religion and director of family programs of Religious Education, and currently a teacher of adult religion classes in several parishes in Tucson, Arizona.