Sunday School Lesson – Who Am I?

Let’s Learn Together

Sunday School St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church September 16, 2012


Children go on Sunday. Families go on Monday



Monthly Virtue:  Gratitude

Memory Verse:   who do you say that I am?  (Mark 8:29)

Practice:  being grateful for the words God gives us…(James 3:1-12)

 Brother David Steindl-Rast says, “the greatest gift one can give is thanksgiving…in giving thanks we give ourselves.  One who says, “thank you” to another really says, “we belong together…giver and thanksgiver belong together…frees them from alienation”. 


Gratitude Tree = a “tree” designed for kids to post their “God Sightings” each week.  A God Sighting is a documentation for each time they are grateful for God in their life.  Kids can write or draw them during the week and bring them in at the opening, and attach them to the Gratitude Tree.  Or, have paper and markers available to make them at opening session.

The FirstReading:  James 3:1-12

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Background:  “The Letter of James is a “paraenesis” an ethical exhortation, an instruction on a way to live a Christian life; a document for members of the Church.  James teaches how to practice Christian living in five short chapters concerning our speech, our use of money, our business pursuits, our trials and temptations, our care of those in need and our attention to those different from ourselves and our love of neighbor.  James instructs us in every day living.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”.  How familiar are these words and how untrue.  Because, the truth is, words do hurt us.  The author of the book of James, possibly Jesus’ brother, paints images of bridled horses, ships sailing rough waters, forests ablaze, and tongues of fire teaching about the impact that is made upon those who receive our words.   James writes of the dangerous power of words not carefully weighed in the early church.  Tame our tongues, writes James.

Reflect:  Yet, those of us who walk in the Lord are a body of faithful, trusting folks.  That is why we join together.  By virtue of our baptism, we are one body in Christ, a family.  Families share and trust and love.  We care for one another.  How do we use our words to reflect our belonging to the body of Christ?  Finally, we’re reminded that a bridle does not silence a horse. A bridle is used to discipline a horse.  James is not telling us to silence our words.  Silence has can reflect the pain of indifference.   We remember also, that while our words are on the tip of our tongue, all too often, we write our words and push “send” when we shouldn’t.  This week, what words will you use that instill love and hope? 

 Practice:  Children and adults learn that we can’t “unsay” our words.  Once they are out, the blessing or the damage is done.  Often, if we wait, and use listening ears, we find that we may well pick different words.  Use the image below and name each tongue with words that can harm:  name caller, angry yeller, lie teller, teller of secrets, teller of words to describe how you feel when you don’t feel that way.

 Now, create a happy face with many tongues…and name the tongues with signs of hope and love.  How will you want to use your words this week?

 PRAY:  (from Carolyn C. Brown)

A Confession About Using Our Tongues

 Leader: God, angry words explode out of us.  We do not think about what we say or how it will hurt people.  We only think of our own anger and putting it all into words so everyone will know how angry and hurt we feel.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader:  We say things that are not quite true to make ourselves look good to others.  We add to the truth, change the story just a little bit, even lie for our own good.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader:  We also say things that are not quite true about others to make them look bad.  We change the story just a little bit and even lie so we look better and they look worse.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader:  We know lots of names that are meant to hurt and should never be said.  We don’t really intend to say them, but we do.  We spit them out hoping they will embarrass and humiliate.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader:  We promise we will never tell a secret.  Then we do.  It is just too good to keep to ourselves, so we break our promise and we tell.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader: We use our tongues to convince ourselves that all the wrong we have done and all the hurt we have caused are not really so bad.  But we know in our hearts that they are.  We have broken your Law.  We have not loved you or others with our tongues or our lives.

People: Forgive us for the way we hurt others with our tongues.

Leader: Lord hear our prayers.  Forgive us and guide us.  May the words of our mouths then be acceptable in your sight.  Amen.

 The Gospel Reading:  Mark 8:27-38

27 Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”

28 “Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”

29 He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”

Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

30-32 Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

32-33 But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

34-37 Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

38 “If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Ice Breaker:  WHO AM I CIRCLE:  Invite all the children to make name tags and introduce themselves and make an animal sound that identifies who they are.  All the children can form a large circle. One child can be chosen to be in the middle of the circle and blindfolded. The children can raise their hand if they would like to make a sound or sing or an animal noise for the blindfolded child to GUESS WHO they are. Continue to play and give as many children a turn as time allows.


Surrounding the Sea of Galilee, Jesus is busy and about his ministry of healing, performing miracles, and teaching people about God.  Mark’s gospel is famous for Jesus’ friends and followers not sure about who he is.

Jesus asks, “who do people say that I am?”  Jesus is the Messiah, the one who comes to save, the Son of God who lives among them, is ridiculed and rejected, not believed and is then put to death upon a cross, and rises to life in three days.  This Jesus is God for us:  God who adores us and blesses us with life giving love, mercy and protection.  In Christ Jesus, our lives are made new.

First,  Jesus gives his life for us so we will know who he is.   Second, Jesus tells us who we must be.  Third, we must

*be followers of Jesus

*carry our troubles and burdens to the restoring strength of Jesus

*don’t be the boss of things

*let Jesus be in charge

*show our love for Jesus by loving others first. 

This is what Jesus means when he says, “pick up your cross and follow me.”  Jesus doesn’t mean literally pick up a big wooden cross and carry it around.  He means that because God loves us, in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we’re called to love God.  Sometimes, though loving God might not be so easy.  We might rather carry a big heavy cross around rather than loving people we don’t like, saying we’re sorry for things we’ve done wrong, doing hard things because it’s the right thing.  So, following Jesus means, we act a certain way to show we’re faithful followers of Jesus.

We all have a bit of Peter in us:  the true desire to show our knowledge of  the answers, then to spit out answers without really knowing the truth.  Like Peter, we all might think we know the answer, but we don’t.  In an effort to cover up his insecurity, Peter gets a little bossy and Jesus needs to remind him of who is in charge.  Plus, Peter, like the rest of the disciples, isn’t expecting their Messiah to actually die.  He’s supposed to reign victorious. Peter has yet to discover his true self in Jesus Christ.  Children are challenged with the same.  We need to ask of ourselves the very same question:  who do people say that I am?  We are, followers of Jesus Christ.  We trust in the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

Reflect:  This week, what gets in the way of you following Jesus?  What do you need to put behind you to know your very self as Jesus’ own?    

Play:  Who Am I?
How to play:  give each player paper and pencil.  As clues for each character in the Bible are given ask the players to write down the name of the character.  Or, write the names of certain Bible characters on a board:  John the Baptist, Elijah, Peter, Zacchaeus.  As they hear the clues, they’re to write the name of the bible character or make a mark on the board of who the character is.   For each correct character named, the person stays in the game.  If you miss guess, you’re out of the game.

Tools:  paper, pencils, name tags, chalk/markers


John the Baptist:  *wore camels hair clothes

*ate bugs for lunch

*lived in the wilderness

*shouted out, “prepare the way”

Elijah:  *an ancient prophet

*his words help an old widow bake enough bread for all to eat

*he commanded fire to come from the sky

*he builds an altar to God from 12 stones

Peter:  *Jesus calls him, “the rock”

*he denies Jesus three times

*he tells Jesus he loves him three times

*among the first of the disciples to follow Jesus

Zacchaeus:  *a tax collector

*a small man

*climbs up in a tree

*gives back what he takes four times over

Finish the game asking each child to write or draw four “bullets” that describe who they are as a follower of Jesus.  Ask each player to make seven name tags with a description of who they are.  Invite the children to wear the name tag each day and when folks say, “who am I,” they can point to who they are in Jesus.

More…- “Who Am I?

(from Sermons4Kids)

WHO AM I RELAY: Divide the children into 2 teams. The teacher can have a box of hats and clothes and accessories as desired in each box. The first child of each team will run to the box and dress up with something from the box and ask their team.. WHO AM I? When the team says the right thing, then the next player will come up and choose something different and each team will continue to play until all the players have dressed up.

WHO AM I CHALK ART: The children can take turns at the chalkboard with colorful chalk to draw a stick person and other drawings for the class to answer the question… WHO AM I? The child who guesses correctly can run to the chalk board and quickly draw another picture for the class to guess WHO it is? Tell children it can be a cowboy, a mother or father, a teacher, a fireman, policeman, gardener, etc. If the children might have a hard time deciding on one, the teacher could have little slips of paper that the child would pick and then draw what is on the paper.

JESUS PAINTING: Provide cans of colorful paint cans and long butcher paper outside on the grass. Children can take turns spray painting the letters to say J-E-S-U-S, as well as spray painting the edges of the paper for a fancy border. This will dry quickly and then can be hung on the classroom wall. Every letter could be a different color!

JESUS BANNER: Children can be given a long piece of construction paper and colorful markers, as well as glitter and stickers. Encourage children to cut out letters from another piece of construction paper (or the teacher can have letters cut out before classtime for children to glue onto the banner paper) and place onto their large banner. Add stickers and also glitter around each large letter for J-E-S-U-S. Children can then write SON OF GOD at the top or bottom of their paper and sign their name as one who BELIEVES that JESUS ‘IS’ the SON OF GOD!!  (This is a good way to decorate our classrooms for our Interfaith Housing Guests who will be staying with us in the month of November).

JESUS ENVELOPES: The teacher can fix up an envelope for each child, with the letters inside and already cut out for the children to place in the correct order – almost like a puzzle, to say JESUS, SON OF GOD! If children are younger, they could work together in small groups. The first child or the first group that puts it together first can tape theirs to the classroom door. The teacher can write, JESUS, SON OF GOD, on the outside of the envelope so that the children will see and know how the letters are to be when completed.

WHO IS THE SON OF GOD ART: The teacher can hand a paper out to each child, that has been prepared before class. The title will say, WHO IS THE SON OF GOD? Make sure there are many names on the paper, such as Peter, Zaccheus, John, Elijah, prophet, priest, friend, Pastor, etc.. and also Jesus. Let the children know that they are to circle the correct answer 3 times with a different color marker each time. They can then put a red line across/through all of the wrong answers. All of the names can be at various places on the paper, different angles and areas.

JESUS CROSS BOOK MARKER: Provide the children with 3 crosses, each one a little smaller than the first, so when the children glue the crosses on top of each other, there will be another cross underneath as the border and a 3D effect. The teacher could also have the bottom cross shape to be cut from a doily or another type of paper, if desired. Children can decorate the cross and write JESUS in bright colors down the middle of the cross. Place a RED ribbon at the top of the book mark to stand for JESUS’s blood that He shed for us, as SAVIOR of the world!

Closing Prayers:  God of love, give us voices of praise to celebrate each other and the glories of creation believing that we all live within your blessing.  Amen. 

Loving God, pour into our hearts abounding gratitude; that we may ever praise and glorify you for the goodness and mercy that has followed us all the days of our life.  Amen.