To begin to teach children about the Baptism of our Lord and how at their own baptism the Holy Spirit came to live in them.
Preparring for the Session
Read Matthew 3:13-17 and Galatians 5:22. Familiarize yourself with the events surrounding the baptism of Jesus and the feast of Theophany/Epiphany. It would also be a good idea to become familiar with the Sacrament of Holy Baptism so that you can lead the discussion with the children. This art project (dove mobile) will take some prep time and is recommended for the end of this session. A couple days before the session make the baker’s dough, cut and bake the doves for the children. This could also be done by the children if you make stretch this session into two separate lessons.
- Bibles - There should be enough for each child. These should all be the same version.
- Word Bank Cards
- Bible Folders
- Copy of Bible Verse Page and Family Notes Sheet– 1 per child
- Holy Bible Illustration
- Icon of the Baptism of Jesus
- Pens, Pencils & Scissors
- Bakers Dough (flour, water, salt and cream of tarter)
- Dove Cookie Cutters
- Ribbon Different Lengths
- Straws cut in to short pieces
- Paint Pens
- Round Plastic Disk with Holes (at craft store)
- Aluminum Foil
Prepare a card for each highlighted word to post as it is introduced:
baptized, Theophany, Epiphany, reveals, Holy Spirit, Holy Water, Jordan River, repent, forgiveness
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Glory to You, our God glory to You!
Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, treasury of blessings and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurities and save our souls, gracious Lord.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3)
Lord, forgive our sins. Master pardon our transgression. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for the glory of Your name. Lord, have mercy. (3)
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Your is the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On January 6, Orthodox Christians celebrate the day Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. This Holy Day is called Theophany or Epiphany. Theophany means God reveals Himself, which is what He did on this day. An epiphany is a revelation of something. So this is a feast of God revealing Himself through Jesus Christ. On this day, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy in our church. After the liturgy, a special service takes place called the "Blessing of the Waters." This reminds us of the water that was blessed as Jesus was baptized. The priest prays for the Holy Spirit to come and bless the water that has been placed in a bowl in front of the Holy Altar. Then the priest blesses all the people in the church and the church building by sprinkling them with the blessed water. The Holy Water is also put into small bottles for people to take home with them. They can drink some of the Holy Water and they also can sprinkle Holy Water throughout their home and on all their belongings. This is a very special blessing we receive from God.
Say: In the Bible, we are told that the Holy Spirit came down from heaven when Jesus was baptized. Let’s read about this in the Bible.
Distribute Bibles to the children. Refer to the Bible poster introduced in Session 1. Ask them to locate the book of Matthew in the New Testament. Write Matthew 3:13-17 on the board or post a card with this information. Ask the children to first find the title page of the book of Matthew. Encourage them to help one another as needed. When each child has located the Book of Matthew, ask them to notice the large numbers that identify the chapters and turn the pages until they come to the number 3. Next, ask that the children to notice the small verse numbers and find the number 13. When all have located verse 13, ask several children to each read a few verses while the others follow along.
At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. But John tried to make him change his mind. “I ought to be baptized by you,” John said, “and yet you have come to me!” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.” So John agreed. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and lighting on him. Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.” Matthew 3:13-17
Say: Close your eyes and imagine that you were there at the edge of the Jordan River the day that Jesus was baptized. (Pause and allow the children time to think. Accept all answers and reflect back. It is important that the children are allowed to use their own words to express the exchange between John the Baptist and Jesus rather that repeat back quotes from the passage.)
- What sounds do you hear? (people talking, water splashing, birds calling, etc.)
- What did John the Baptist say to Jesus? (I ought to be baptized by you and yet you have come to me)
- What did Jesus say to John? (Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires)
- Describe what you saw when Jesus was baptized. Tell us what you heard.
Say: Let’s act out the Baptism of Jesus. (Select children both boys and girls to act the parts of Jesus, John, God’s voice and the people who had gathered to be baptized. Guide the children as needed to make up the dialogue.)
Jesus and many of the people John baptized were adults. In the Orthodox Church, we are usually baptized when we are small babies but sometimes adults and older children are baptized when they join the Orthodox Church. We learned from the Bible that when Jesus was baptized the Spirit of God came down upon Him like a dove. When we were baptized, the Spirit of God also came upon each of us. God’s Holy Spirit stays inside of us for our whole life. It is like a lighted candle in our hearts that makes us feel warm, safe and happy. When we attend church, receive communion and do good things, this candle burns bright and strong inside of us. This Spirit fills our hearts with beautiful “gifts.” Two of these gifts are love and patience. Can you think of other gifts we receive from God’s Holy Spirit?
(Accept all answers and write on a chalkboard so all the children can see.)
Say: In the Bible, it is written in Galatians Chapter 5 verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Look at the list the children made. Circle the ones that they got and add the ones they did not. Ask the children to define each gift and encourage the children to give examples of these gifts in actual life situations.
Say: Sometimes in our life we may forget about God’s will and do things that are not good. If that happens, the light inside us becomes smaller and smaller until it is just a flicker and we feel sad and worried all the time. Then we need to repent and ask for God's forgiveness. God will always forgive us and will always love us, even if we do something that makes Him sad. Asking for forgiveness will make God’s Spirit inside us burn bright and strong again. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we have God himself inside of us. What a wonderful way to live our whole life!
(Accept all answers and reflect back)
What are some things we can do to invite the Holy Spirit to live in our heart? (Communion, Holy Water, fasting, prayer, do good things…) What actions might cause the Holy Spirit to be sad and not bright and beautiful in our hearts? (sins, not participating in the sacraments, not praying…)
(Teach children the hymn) All who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia - Processional Hymn in the Baptism Service
Art Project: Dove Mobile
- Baker’s dough (1 Cup Salt, 1 ½ cup Boiling Water, 4 cups flour) – may need more or less depending on amount of children
- Dove Shaped Cookie Cutters
- Straws cut to 1”
- Paint Pens (white, gold, silver, black and other colors)
- Ribbon Different Lengths
- Round Plastic Disk with Holes (at most craft stores)
- Aluminum Foil
- List of “gifts” of the Holy Spirit from the session discussion
- Make the Baker’s dough (or buy it already made) o Pour hot water over salt and let cool o Add flour and kneed until soft and workable
- Roll out dough and cut 9 doves per child (cut a few extra’s). Doves should be about ¼” to ½” thickness
- Place cut straws in the top of the dove to make a hole where the ribbon will go (leave in while cooking)
- Cook in oven at 350 for 1 ½ hours
- Allow time to cool before starting project with kids
- Give children 9 doves each
- Have them decorate them using the painter pens and writing the names of gifts of the Holy Spirit on them
- Have the children wrap aluminum around the plastic disk and poke holes where the ribbon will go
- Give them different lengths ribbons and have them tie the doves to the disks
- Attach a ribbon at the top to hang the mobile by