Since God the Father is a central Christian message, Father's Day offers meaningful Sunday school learning opportunities. Take children on a journey into the Bible as you show them the similarities and differences between the Heavenly Father and their dads. Children may be surprised to learn how much they share with Jesus on the subject of fathers. On the day of the year when families honour their fathers, adapt the worship community sermon to fit a child's understanding.
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Abba and Jesus
Sunday schoolchildren of different ages can relate to the closeness between a father and a child. When a child calls out, "Daddy!" the child expresses an intensely loving relationship in a single word. Read from the gospel of Mark, chapter 14. Ask older Sunday schoolchildren to take turns reading verses 1 to 35. Stop after each scene to talk about what is happening. Explain to the children that Jesus is facing his final days and he knows what is going to happen. Ask children to reflect on how he must have felt. Read aloud Mark 14:36 in which Jesus cries out to "Abba" to take away the burden he is about to bear. Tell the children that the word "Abba" is an ancient Aramaic term -- the language in which Jesus often spoke -- that translates as "daddy." Ask the children to discuss why they think Jesus would have used that term instead of any other term for "father."
God the Father
Children know in one way or another that their fathers are a source of life. Help children to consider that God is the Father and Creator of all life. Turn to the Creation narratives in Genesis 1-2:7 for inspiration. Ask children to bring pictures of their fathers and themselves. Place the photographs on a table. Exhibit examples of the elements of creation listed in Genesis 1. Point to the sky, water, birds and animals, telling the children that God created all of these things. Then read Genesis 2: 7 in which God gives the first human life by breathing into his nostrils. Ask the children to think about how close God was in that moment of life-giving breath. Gather the kids around the table filled with images of fathers and children. Suggest that the children think about God giving their fathers and themselves life. Suggest how close God must be to them and to their dads and how they will always share that connection with their fathers.
Loving and Attentive father
The parables in Luke 15 show in vivid imagery and deep emotion God's attentive love for every person. Luke 15:11-32 describes a father who symbolises God, who loves a wayward son so much that the father allows the son to disrespect him. When the son drifts out of the father's life, he waits for him until he returns. Emphasise to the children that the most important aspect of the parable of the Lost Son is the father who never gives up waiting for his son. Divide your Sunday school class into small groups to discuss what it means that God is the father who loves them with such devotion. Ask the kids to think of one time when their fathers showed them extraordinary love.
God, Provider and Law-Giver
God's fatherly love is real, but love is a two-way street. The story of the Ten Commandments gives people tangible ways to express gratitude for God's protection and love. Tell Sunday schoolchildren the Exodus story, emphasising God's extraordinary actions to free the people from slavery in Egypt. Give each child a copy of the Ten Commandments to keep. Ask volunteers to write the commandments on the board. Erase key words from the lines. Instruct students to turn their cards over so they cannot read them and to guess the missing words. Explain that the children's dads deserve their obedience just as God deserves all people's obedience because dads and God protect and love their children.
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