Title: The Parable of the Lost and Found Sheep
Subject: The Good Shepherd
Age: 3 to 10 years
Liturgical Time: non-specific but particularly good for Lent
Prerequisite: Parable of the Good Shepherd
Doctrinal Content: Jesus loves each person so much that if one is lost He will go find him, rejoicing when that person is found. Jesus wants all people to be restored to and in relationship with Him, and He initiates this relationship. God's love is forgiving, and it pleases Him when people are restored to Him. The Good Shepherd seeks the lost because he wants everyone to enjoy "life to the fullest."
Direct Aim: This lesson aims to lift up the Parable of the Lost Sheep in order to expand the understanding of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and His personal love He has for each sheep.
Indirect Aims: Indirectly this lesson aims to deepen the children's understanding of God's forgiving love; to nurture their relationship with Jesus; to personalize the unique and intimate relationship Jesus offers; to spark a desire to follow the Good Shepherd out of love, and to lay groundwork for moral foundation (personal understanding of sin, being apart from God). This lesson is also preparation for the sacrament of confession.
Sources: Luke 15:4-6, Ezekiel 34, Psalm 23
Materials for the Lesson:
Scripture booklet of Luke 15:4-6 with blue cover
Round green sheepfold with fence and gate, ten sheep, one Good Shepherd figure, as used for Good Shepherd presentation
Candle, matches, snuffer
The Lesson Plan:
Gather and settle the children. Review Parable of the Good Shepherd. Ask, "What happened first?" Children may move the figures during this review. Continue reviewing the Good Shepherd parable: The sheep hear his voice, He leads them, He calls them by name, they follow him because they recognize his voice. Ask, "Would they follow a stranger?" Wonder with the children, "How do you think the Shepherd feels about the sheep that He would lay down His life? How do they sheep feel about the Shepherd?"
Continue reviewing: There are other sheep; He will bring them, there is one flock; He knows the Father. As you move the figures to remember the Parable of the Good Shepherd, leave one sheep outside the sheepfold. The children will notice this right away and mention it. Say, "That happens sometimes. A sheep gets lost. I have another parable, a parable Jesus told about what He would do if a sheep got lost."
Light the candle, then read Luke 15:4-6, solemnly.
Read the passage again. Open the gate, move the shepherd out and close gate. Move the shepherd around to lost sheep. Pick up the sheep and hold behind Shepherd's shoulders; move them back to gate and open it, put in sheep and Shepherd; finally, close the gate. Finish reading: "Then he calls his neighbors..."
Ask the children any or all of the following questions:
- What happened?
- What did the shepherd do?
- Whose strength got the sheep home?
- Was the sheep heavy? And yet he carried him all the way home...
- How does the Shepherd feel at the end?
- How did the sheep feel?
- If you were the sheep, what would you say?
- Do you think the sheep was hoping the Shepherd would find him?
- Who do you think was happier, the sheep or the shepherd?
Tell children they can think about how happy the sheep and Shepherd were, by drawing a picture. You can sing a song, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
Snuff the candle and restore the sheepfold. Invite the children into a conversation about how a sheep gets lost: sin. In addition, invite the children to consider how one is restored: Jesus forgives them and brings them back into the sheepfold. Connect and introduce the idea of confession and repentance to this parable and the mystery of Confession. See if the children can connect this with speaking to a priest about their sins and inviting the priest to help them back into the sheepfold, if age-appropriate.
Work with material directly
Older children can copy the verses
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.