By Debbie Carlson
Here’s a great project to share with your Sunday School staff.
Kids team up with senior adults to brighten the lives of sick or shut-in church members, families with new babies, or hurting families
You’ll need a Bible, empty two-liter bottles, dirt, fast-blooming flower bulbs, water, index cards, construction paper, double-sided carpet tape, craft sticks, scissors, crayons or markers, plastic bowls, and photocopies of the “How to Care for Your Bright Bulbs.”.
Get Set to Serve
Before the service project, contact seniors in your church who would like to participate in this project with the kids. They can lend their gardening expertise and their experience in serving others! Let them know the time and place your group will be meeting.
Also find out from the pastor or the church office who in the congregation could use a little cheering up. Make a list of these people and their addresses. You may also need to call them in advance to arrange a time to drop off their Bright Bulb Pots.
On separate cards, write the name of each person and why they need cheering up (if appropriate). These will be given to your kids so they can make cards to accompany the Bright Bulb Pots.
Wash the two-liter bottles, and peel off the labels. Then cut each bottle so that about six inches remains. You’ll need one “bottle bottom” for each child in class.
As children and seniors arrive, ask them to form intergenerational pairs and sit together at your work table. If you don’t have enough senior visitors to form pairs, have kids form small groups, making sure there’s a senior in each group. As you wait for everyone to arrive, encourage pairs to “interview” each other about hobbies and interests.
When everyone has arrived, offer a brief word of welcome and thank the seniors for being a part of this important service project. Have seniors and kids discuss the following questions in their pairs, then ask volunteers to share insights from their discussions with the rest of the group. Ask:
* When are times you need cheering up?
* What are some ways others try to cheer you up?
* Have you ever missed a fun activity because you were sick at home? What was that like?
* What makes you feel better when you’re sick in bed?
* How is cheering others a way of serving God?
Say: Listen to this story that Jesus tells in the Bible. Ask a senior and his or her partner to take turns reading aloud Matthew 25:34-40. Then ask:
* What are some ways this passage says we can help others?
* According to this passage, who are we really serving when we help others?
Say: That’s right. When we serve others, we’re really serving God because that’s what he wants us to do.
Ask another senior and his or her partner to read aloud Romans 12:13. Before they read, explain that this verse was written by the Apostle Paul, who was talking about Christians and how they should behave toward one another. Ask:
* What needs do you think fellow Christians might have?
* What needs do you think people in this church might have?
Say: Jesus tells us that we should visit and help those who are in need. The Bible also says that we should love other Christians and help with their needs. Today we’re going to make Bright Bulb Pots to cheer up some church friends who could use a bright spot in their lives!
Set out scissors, construction paper, craft sticks, carpet tape, and the prepared two-liter bottle “pots.” Show kids and seniors how to cut out construction paper flowers to attach to the pots with carpet tape. Invite them to work together with their partners to cover the whole pot with bright, cheerful flowers.
Set up a separate table (or a station outside if the weather is nice) with dirt and bulbs. Have kids and seniors fill the pots halfway with dirt. Then have partners each place a bulb in the center of the pot and cover it with more dirt. Let partners water the bulbs sparingly.
When the flower pots are complete, pairs will each make a simple card with instructions on how to care for the bulbs. They’ll also write a cheerful message to accompany the gift.
Give each team a card with the name of a church member who needs a little cheering up. Show pairs how to cut out the “How to Care for Your Bright Bulbs” instructions and glue the instructions on a half-sheet of construction paper. On the back of their papers, encourage pairs to write messages of cheer to their church friends in need. Have them attach the cards to the craft sticks.
If at all possible, try to arrange for the seniors and their partners to deliver the Bright Bulb Pots together. If this can’t be done, take pictures of the church members receiving their gifts. The children will be thrilled to see how they can serve others with such a simple, yet meaningful, act of kindness!
Have children and their senior partners hold hands in a circle. Thank them for working so well together for the benefit of people who need their help. Then offer this prayer:
Dear God, you are the hope of the sick, the joy of the sad, the comfort of the weary, and the light for those still in darkness. Help these bulbs brighten many lives and remind our special friends that you care for every living thing–most especially your beloved children in need. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The Extra Service Step
Reach out to the community with God’s love! Bake loaves of quick dill herb bread. Tuck a seed packet of dill into a small clay pot to accompany the bread. After the bread is enjoyed, the pot can be filled with dirt and the seeds can be planted. Attach a nice card with instructions and a message filled with hope! Donate these to a local food bank to be given to families, compliments of your church!
How to Care for Your Bright Bulbs
* Keep your Bright Bulb Pot in a warm, sunny spot.
* Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
* Keep watching your pot for a beautiful creation of God!
“Bright Bulbs”. Written by Debbie Carlson.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”