Jesus Invites Me! Affirmation. I am welcome in the flock! Word: INVITATION

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1 Jesus Invites Me! Word: INVITATION Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Affirmation I am welcome in the flock! (Matthew 25:34b) Leader Devotions Scripture Matthew 25:31-40 Meditation Close your eyes and envision yourself turning your head away from a man holding out his hand, asking for a dollar for food. Later you find out it was Jesus. Now, imagine that you have refused an INVITATION to visit the sick. You find out that Jesus was in the hospital. Sounds like you missed an opportunity, doesn t it? And you did! Everyday we have opportunities to include others in the circle of God s love. The African proverb, It takes a village to raise a child, not only refers to the extended family tradition of African Americans. It reminds us to always INVITE the most vulnerable among God s children, knowing that Jesus loves them and INVITES them into the kingdom of God. Prayer Thank you, Jesus, for an INVITATION to love. Help me to welcome my students, inviting them into your village. In your name, Amen. Bible Background for Teachers For John Wesley, the journey of salvation involved a response to grace, requiring us to participate in ministry. Through involvement with ministry, we grow in grace as we share grace God s unconditional love with others. God invites us; we must invite others. GRACE IS THE GIFT FROM GOD THAT KEEPS ON GIVING. Because this gift is available to all, everyone will be held accountable for responding to it, growing in it, and most importantly sharing it with others. How a person is identified is determined by his/her response to grace. Thus salvation and sanctification are linked together. The way to salvation is belief in Jesus Christ. But in this story Jesus is not describing the way to be saved; he is describing how saved people act. A saved person acts like a sheep. Sheep have a flocking behavior, staying close to their own, that provides the best defense against predators. Sheep have a village mentality. They view the flock as a unified body, realizing that sheep need sheep, even those who are forgotten or outcasts. Sheep-like behavior is that which pulls the village together: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, Bible Story Activity Leader Younger Elementary 23

2 welcoming the stranger, and visiting the sick and the prisoner. They do not realize that they are doing these things. It is not something that they think about. These actions are instinctive in the sheep, done out of love as a natural response to grace. The African American community and indeed the whole world needs more of a village mentality so that the most vulnerable can be protected from social, emotional, spiritual, and physical predators. An African tradition which has remained a part of African American culture is understanding the importance of the extended family and communal relationships. It is reflected in the proverb, It takes a village to raise a child. In the same way, it takes a village (believers) to raise up those who are in need (the child) for the building of God s Kingdom. The image we see in our verses and the theology presented in Wesley is the African notion of community and the importance of taking care of the needs of the entire community. Everyone is accountable for everyone on this walk of salvation. Through a revelation of grace, our role in the village is revealed and made plain. What happens in the end has little to do with denominational affiliation, race, gender, class, or other demographics. As revealed in Jesus Christ and the availability of grace to all, God welcomes the sheep into the flock! God invites us, setting forth the same requirements for all, and we all have access to grace! Matthew 25:31-40 NRSV When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the king will answer them, Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. NIV When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. 24 Word Up!

3 Welcome Time (5 minutes) Welcome to the village. (Every time that you say the word village, put your hands together, intertwining your fingers. Wiggle them. Have the children imitate what you are doing.) Jesus invites you and so do I! The village is a place where people come together to build each other up. An African proverb says, It takes a village to raise a child. It takes grandparents, teachers, coaches, family friends, and others to influence you in positive ways. The village is like two hands that come together where the fingers are the people. Every time that you hear the word village, I want you to do the signal. Bible Story Time (13 minutes) How many of you have ever been invited to a party? (Allow for response.) Years ago, children used to get paper INVITATIONS for parties. You are going to make one like that in arts and crafts. Now, people send e-vitations (invitations by ) or even just call on the phone when they are having a party or celebration. Well, our story today is about Jesus INVITATION to the kingdom. We are calling it the Jesus Village. (Do hand signal.) (Read Matthew 25:31-40; then read or tell the Bible story.) In the Bible story, Jesus uses sheep and goats to explain who is going to be invited into the Jesus Village. (Do hand signal.) Jesus said when he comes back he will separate the people just like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats: the sheep will be on the right and the goats on the left. Jesus will determine who is a sheep and who is a goat by how they treat others. People who truly follow Jesus are his sheep, but those that don t follow Jesus are like goats. People with sheep-like behavior stay close to each other like people in a village. (Do hand signal.) They protect each other and feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit the sick and those in prison. They live together in peace. People with goat-like behavior do not love others enough to give food to the hungry or clothes to the poor, and they do not visit the sick or those in prisons. They don t mind bumping other people with their heads to get them out of the way. Why did Jesus call the people sheep? Sheep are a lot like humans in a way. They live in flocks just like we live in towns and cities. They like to be close so that they can look out for and protect their young. They will see after their sick, too. The flock is like their village. (Do hand signal.) NKJV When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. Bible Story Activity Leader Younger Elementary 25

4 African Proverb It takes a village to raise a child. Jesus said that the sheep were those who fed him when he was hungry, took care of him when he was sick, and clothed him when he had no clothes to wear. The sheep asked what he meant by this because they did not remember doing this for him. He told them that when they had helped someone in this way it was as if they had done so for him. They had treated the smallest and weakest person as part of the village. (Do hand signal.) Just by giving their help they had invited people to the Jesus Village. (Do hand signal.) When we help others in the ways Jesus talked about we are inviting them into our village (Do hand signal.) just like Jesus does. In Africa, the village (Do hand signal) includes all your family members and family friends, near and far, even people you ve never even met before! African children are raised to offer hospitality and to respect their elders. When people come to visit homes, it is the children that welcome and serve them with food and beverages. African children recognize a brother or sister in anyone that has been introduced to the village (Do hand signal.) Children often call other adults Auntie or Uncle, even if there is no blood relationship. A family friend is often called, Cousin. This happens in black communities that are not in Africa, too. You may have people that you call Auntie or Uncle who are really just good friends of your mother or father. They are part of your village. (Do hand signal.) The church is a village. (Do hand signal.) And we should act like sheep. Now I want you to say: I am welcome in the flock. (Have the children repeat: I am welcome in the flock. ) In some churches people who are not related call each other Sister and Brother. There is the understanding that all are family, relying on each other, welcoming and caring for each other. Those in church are trying to behave like sheep (Have he children repeat: I am welcome in the flock. ) because the church is a Jesus Village. (Do hand signal.) Our Bible story helps us to know what it is like to be a part of the flock. (Have the children repeat: I am welcome in the flock. ) It takes the whole village (Do hand signal.) to care for all of God s children. In the Jesus Village (Do hand signal.) people love one another and take responsibility for one another. God invites everyone to be a part of God s kingdom through Jesus Christ. Jesus is inviting you to be part of the flock. (Have the children repeat: I am welcome in the flock. ) Let s repeat today s memory verse: Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34b). (Have the children repeat.) 26 Word Up!

5 Reflection Time (2 minutes) (Play #6 on the Word Up! Music CD, Speaking and Living for Jesus. Allow the children to move, clap, and sing with the music.) Stand up and form a circle. We will now dance in a circle as we accept the invitation to go into our Father s house. Remember, we belong to the Jesus Village. Activity Time (10 minutes) Activity 1 page Have the children read the words to the song they have just heard. 2. Ask: How do we speak for Jesus? 3. Ask: How do we live for Jesus? 4. Read the African proverb. Activity 2 page 12 (Matching. Can be done at home.) 1. Give each child a pencil. 2. Have them complete the ideas by connecting the right phrases. 3. Read the memory verse. Activity 3 page Invite students to interpret the photograph. 2. Read the affirmation. 3. If there is time, discuss how they can do the things sheep should do. Note: If you are using Schedule IV, you can include time for a craft activity (see Arts and Crafts leader book), and for dancing the Left/Right Slide or for doing a heritage activity (see Heritage/drama leader book). Supplies Bible Student handbooks Pencils CD player Word Up! Music CD Preparation Listen to #6 on the Word Up! Music CD, Speaking and Living for Jesus so that you can help the children know when to dance, clap, or sing. Display the word for the day using yellow. Teacher Goals Children will: Learn the Bible story. Learn that Jesus wants us to help each other. Learn that God wants us to invite others to share God s love. (Lead the children in prayer to end class time.) Dear Lord, thank you for inviting me to the Jesus Village. Help me to speak and live for Jesus so that others may become his sheep. In your name we pray. Amen. Bible Story Activity Leader Younger Elementary 27

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