This weekend is not only Halloween, but it is also the 493rd anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Here is a lesson we've put together for this weekend's Bible classes that highlights the themes of the Reformation--that only Jesus saves us from sin, and we learn about Jesus only in the Bible. Lesson Highlights:
- Only Jesus can save us from Satan, sin, and death.
- We have the Bible to tell us that Jesus is our only Savior.
- The Reformers helped the church find its way back to the Bible and Jesus.
5-10 minutes—Welcome Worksheets
Preschool classes will do a coloring page with a picture of the Bible. Elementary classes will do a “Luther” maze worksheet from http://churchhistoryabcs.com
5 minutes—Bible & Doctrine Memory:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16a (NIV)
Q. Where do you learn how to love and obey God? A. In the Bible alone.
For elementary only:
Q. What is justification? A. It is God looking at sinners just as if they had never sinned.
Q. How can we be justified? A. Only by trusting in Christ to take away our sins.
**Doctrine Questions and Answers are from the Catechism for Boys and Girls
10-15 minutes—Assembly: The Story of the Reformation
Martin Luther was just a regular person—like you and me, but he saw the whole world change in his lifetime, and he had a little something to do with it.
When Luther was alive, the churches didn’t teach that people should trust only Jesus to be saved from Satan, sin, and death. Instead, they taught that people needed to do special works, touch special objects (like one of Peter’s teeth or the wood from the cross), or even pay money in order to be saved from sin (or have their family go to heaven).
This is not what the Bible teaches, but that was another problem. When Luther was alive, people did not have Bibles in their homes like we do, because the Bible was only in one language, Latin, and that was a language that most people couldn’t read.
In the 16th century, Martin Luther and other men called “the Reformers” helped the church find its way back to the Bible and back to Jesus and his work on the cross.
On Halloween night, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted a list of 95 things that needed to change on the door of his church in Wittenburg, Germany. People read what he wrote, and they began to see that the church had turned away from Jesus and his Bible. Soon (and with Martin Luther’s help), the Bible was written down in languages that everyone understood—like English, German, and French. And very soon there was a whole movement of churches that believed that salvation from Satan, sin, and death comes only from Jesus.
**Story was adapted from "L is for Luther" in The Church History ABCs: Augustine and 25 Other Heroes of the Faith by Stephen J. Nichols, (Crossway, 2010).
45 minutes—Reformation Day Party Stations
Children will be divided into groups, and they will rotate through each party station—spending 10 minutes at each. The service coordinator will announce times to switch.
1. Bible Smuggling Relay (elementary classrooms only)—During the Reformation, it was illegal to print a Bible in a language that people could read. So, the Reformers often had to hide Bibles from church leaders and sneak them to the people so that they could read them. Activity: Divide kids into two teams. Have one representative from each team put on an oversized pair of pants over their clothes. The team will work to stuff a stack of Bibles into the pants. Then, the two representatives will race around a cone and back. If time, you can choose new teams and do the race again.
2. Diet of Worms (elementary classrooms only)—Teaching that Jesus and the Bible are the only way of salvation got Martin Luther in a lot of trouble. He was put on trial before a group of church leaders (called a “diet”) in the city of Worms, Germany (pronounced “Verms”). Today, for our snack, we’re going to have a different kind of diet of worms. Snack: Gummy worms in a chocolate pudding/Oreo cookie mixture. Take time to review the story and memory work during snack time. Remember, you only have 10 minutes.
3. Wittenberg Door (preschool and elementary)—The Reformation started when Martin Luther hammered a piece of paper to the church door in hometown of Wittenberg, Germany. This was a list of 95 things that needed to change about the church. Activity: Prepare a large red church door on the hallway wall, and label it Wittenberg Door. Prepare half-page coloring sheets with statements like “We are saved by Jesus alone,” “The Bible in our own language,” and “Jesus is all we need.” Then have the kids put the sheets up on the door with sticky-tac.
4. Pin the Beard on the Theologian (preschool and elementary)—One of the great things about the Reformers is that many of them had really great beards. So, today we’re going to play the ìPin the Beard on the Theologianî game. Activity: Taken from http://churchhistoryabcs.com. One at a time, each child is blindfolded and handed a beard with a thumbtack poked through it or a bit of sticky-tac applied to the back). The blindfolded child is then spun around until he or she is disoriented. The child then sets off to try and attach the beard. The player who pins their tail closest to the target, wins. **Note, for younger preschoolers, you may not want to use the blindfold.
5. Luther Rose Craft Project (preschool classrooms only)—Pre-prepare the following shapes out of construction paper using the stencil attached. Then, have preschool children paste them together as the teacher explains the symbolism.
- Black cross—Jesus died for our sins on the cross
- Red heart—We have new hearts and desires by faith
- White rose—We have peace with God
- Blue Sky—We have new life that begins now
- Gold Ring—We have eternal life in heaven.
Remainder of Service—Free play in classrooms.
Have goody bags with Halloween candy and Reformation Day “Take Home” guides prepared with family activities. Send one of these home with every child.