Archives: The Good Life Curriculum

Media Release

The Good Life curriculum

5 lessons to nurture simplicity and goodness in Christian community

by Christine Battjes



• Foreword / Thanks - 2
• Introduction - 3
The Five Lessons
How to Use This Material Effectively
Some Notes on the Daily Schedule

LIFE Lesson #1: Do Justice - 7
• Introducing the Theme
Song Suggestions
Scripture Presentation: The Key to God's Kingdom
• Warming Up
• Going Deeper: If the World Were a Village
• Living It Out: 5 Options

LIFE Lesson #2: Cherish the Natural Order - 15
• Introducing the Theme
Song Suggestions
Scripture Presentation: Options
1. Choral reading of Gen. 1
2. "It Is Very Good"
• Warming Up
• Going Deeper:
Earth Keeping with "The Lorax"
• Living It Out: 5 Options

LIFE Lesson #3: Learn from the World Community - 25
• Introducing the Theme
Song Suggestions
Scripture Presentation: Around the World and Back Again
• Warming Up
• Going Deeper: Words of Advice from Around the World
• Living It Out: 5 Options

LIFE Lesson #4: Nurture People - 35
• Introducing the Theme
Song Suggestions
Scripture Presentation: The Power of Friendship
• Warming Up
• Going Deeper: How to Build Community
• Living It Out: 5 Options

LIFE Lesson #5: Nonconform Freely - 43
• Introducing the Theme
Song Suggestions
Scripture Presentation: What If Jesus Visited My Church?
• Warming Up
• Going Deeper: Pledge Allegiance to...
• Living It Out: 5 Options

• About the Musicians - 14
• About the Author - 14
• Resources Mentioned in the Material - 6
• Other Resources to Check Out - 6
• Words for the Listening Songs - 24
• Promotion Kit - 51-54
• Evaluation: Tell Us What You Think - 55
• Order Form - 57
• Music Leader's Accompanyment Edition (excerpt)
• Music CD Insert
• CD-ROM Insert


Curriculum COMPONENTS: Curriculum (on paper or CD-ROM), Leader's Music Edition; Participant's Music Edition; Music CD.
Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org > Archives for hundreds of free resources.

"The Good Life" curriculum text file

GRAPHIC names are given at the place where they appear in the curriculum. Retrieve them from the CD-ROM art file.

PAGE 1 (cover)
[GRAPHICS: BuildingTheL, NaturalI, PeaceF, 2PersonE]

The Good Life [GRAPHIC: FishStreamer]

Foreword / Thanks

Alternatives for Simple Living is a pioneer in the modern voluntary simplicity movement. Founded in 1973 as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, Alternatives is a non-profit organization that urges and equips everyone to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly year-round. To this end, Alternatives offers a wide variety of services and resources, including books, videos, CDs, games, bulletin inserts, study/action guides, and music.

Alternatives emphasizes relationships and traditions over things, thereby helping to reduce stress and debt. We promote alternative giving - giving of ourselves instead of mass-produced "stuff" and helping the needy instead of spending so much on ourselves. Our most widely read resource is the annual Christmas booklet "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?"

"The Good Life" is designed for various types of groups/gatherings/events - Vacation Bible School (for children or for intergeneraional groups), camps, midweek school, as a supplement to confirmation, etc.

Feel free to "play" with the presentations. That's especially easy using the CD-ROM version. Shorten them at will, especially for younger children. Send us the results, so we can share your ideas with others and possibly incorporate them into future versions.

Thanks to those who reviewed an early draft and used and commented on the materials, especially Dick Webster, Greg Hanneman, Linda Cron, Elwood Rieke, Mel Luetchens, Kathleen Connolly, Karen Handke, Noah Campbell, Karen Weber and Willa Brown.

Thanks to Wood Lake Books and Herald Press and to the many musicians who cooperated with us, especially those who donated the recordings of their songs for the CD: Linnea Good, JD Martin, John Pitney, Joyce Rouse, Jim Strathdee & Sr. Miriam Therese Winter.

See contact information at the bottom. Peace.


Introduction: Why This Curriculum?

Childhood is the ideal time to establish morals and values. To build a better future, we need to "build" strong, compassionate children.

Unfortunately, children are subject to bullies and are encouraged to see themselves, their team, their country as #1. They/we are manipulated to buy and use things that were made in sweat shops and that degrade the environment, that do NOT care for Creation. They/we are told in commercials that they will find happiness and meaning in life through STUFF. They/we are pressured to conform - to look alike, to sound alike.

These are all contrary to the five life standards of voluntary simplicity. They are not the Jesus way.

This curriculum is designed to teach positive LIFE Lessons to counter those cultural forces that erode Christian values.

The best way to learn these standards is to experience simple living - even in symbolic ways like education - before being branded by corporations. Loyalties are learned early. It's harder to change habits of consumption as we get older.

And the best place to learn this is in a supportive relationship, such as an intergenerational event. The children may even have influence on parents and grandparents who have not yet caught the joy of simpler living, who are instead caught up in the stress and debt of the "American Dream."

What Is Intergenerational VBS?

Traditional Vacation Bible School usually occurs for a week in June, soon after the school year ends. Sometimes VBS occurs in August, soon before school starts, sometimes for two weeks. Usually VBS is for pre-schoolers through upper elementary, usually divided into classes. Teenagers are recruited to be helpers.

A healthy growing trend is the Intergenerational (or Family) VBS, which is held during the summer each evening for a week, or one night a week for a month.

Family VBS brings together children, parents and grandparents. Most activities are done together. It can be a great bonding time!

Non-church members can be invited to either style of VBS. VBS is a good way to involve the neighborhood. Sometimes churches collaborate, especially small churches even of various denominations.

See the Promotion Kit below.

The Five Lessons
1. Do justice
2. Cherish the natural order
3. Learn from the world community
4. Nurture people
5. Nonconform freely

These five standards were introduced by Doris Janzen Longacre in her landmark book on Christian simplicity, Living More with Less. Since its first printing in 1980, these standards have been enfleshed by countless Christians as they discover the abundance of living simply which was modeled for us by Jesus Christ. By using the stories and activities found in this material with your Vacation Bible School, Midweek Program, Family Camp, After School Program, or Confirmation, a new generation of disciples will discover the wisdom of living simply.

How to Use This Material Effectively

Glance through the pages and you'll notice lots of options. Unlike some materials that offer a detailed script complete with songs, prayers and craft patterns, The Good Life is a collection of ideas centered on a daily theme. By giving options for possible activities, you can create a program that suits the size, nature and interest of your group.

Even as the materials provide flexibility, it is important to have some continuity within the daily schedule so the students can appreciate the activities instead of being apprehensive about what's coming next. Therefore each lesson follows the same daily schedule:
1. Introducing the Theme - gathering and worship time with lots of music and a dramatic Scripture presentation. Sorry, music may not be copied. Order enough music booklets.
2. Warming Up - active games for the whole group with reflection questions at the end
3. Going Deeper - sharing the day's lesson in small groups
4. Living It Out - putting the lesson into action

Some Notes on the Daily Schedule

Introducing the Theme - Several songs are suggestion for the worship time in each lesson. It is recommended that you choose a few songs from each lesson to sing throughout the program to build familiarity. Some songs work especially well for certain parts of a worship service. For example, "God's Rainbow" can be sung as people enter for worship and "Sing of a Blessing" at the end. Feel free to add some fitting favorites of your own, along with prayers and an offering to make this time complete.

Some of the songs are recordings by Joyce Rouse (Earth Mama) and John Pitney that are for your listening pleasure. They are listed under the song selections at the beginning of each lesson but are used in different places within the lesson itself. These songs are included on the CD that accompanies this material and the lyrics are printed in this resource, along with information about the artists and how you can hear more of their fine music.

Warming Up - They may look like games, but they're really opportunities for learners to experience the lesson in body and soul. Participants will enjoy these activities because they're engaging and fun. But after the ball has stopped bouncing, be sure to take time out for dialogue. If your group is large, it will be best to break into groups of 8-12 with an adult facilitator in each group.

Going Deeper - As the title suggests, this is the time when the theme for the day gets more concrete. Sometimes a story is used, sometimes learners are asked to do a short project. Whatever the form, the function is to teach participants one of the five standards of living simply. This time will be most effective in small groups. You can divide into groups by ages, genders, or family units. But the groups will be most effective if they are the same each day.

Living It Out - In the book, The Godbearing Life, Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster make the point that programs are an excuse for real ministry. Teachers may focus on getting through a prepared lesson and miss the opportunities for spiritual mentoring. Whether you're working with children, youth or adults, the lessons that follow are occasions for you to provide a listening ear and humble direction to your students. In other words, shift from thinking, "What's next on the schedule?" to, "I wonder what's going on in the heart and soul of my students?"

What to learn more about voluntary simplicity? See Resources on p. 6 and 57. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org > About Us: "What Is Voluntary Simplicity?" and articles in the archives.

[GRAPHICS: BuildingTheL, NaturalI, PeaceF, 2PersonE]



Resources Mentioned in the Material

Carols with Justice. Booklet, Music CD, "What Does JESUS Want for Christmas?" Pageant, Pageant CD. Sergeant Bluff, IA: Alternatives for Simple Living, 1998.

Dean, Kenda Creasy and Foster, Ron. The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books, 1998.

Dr. Seuss. The Lorax. New York, NY: Random House, 1971.

Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickle and Dimed. New York, NY: Holt & Company, 2001.

Smith, David J. and Armstrong, Shelagh. If the World Were a Village. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, Ltd., 2002.

Syracuse Cultural Workers. Tools for Change catalog is 32 color pages of feminist, progressive, multicultural resources to help change the world and sustain activism. The Peace Calendar, Women Artists Datebook, over 100 posters on social, cultural and political themes, holiday cards for Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, plus buttons, stickers, T-shirts, notecards, postcards, and books. Great fundraising products. Box 6367, Syracuse, NY 13217 (315) 474-1132; Free fax (877) 265-5399. 24 hour ordering - Visa/MC. email: scw@syrcuseculturalworkers.com

Other Resources to Check Out

Cornell, Joseph Bharat. Sharing Nature with Children. Nevada City, CA: Dawn Publications, 1979.

Braman, Arlette. Kids Around the World Cook! New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000.

Friesen, Delores Histand. Living More with Less Study/Action Guide. Sergeant Bluff, IA: Alternatives for Simple Living, 1998.

Longacre, Doris Janzen. Living More with Less and More-with-Less: A World Community Cookbook. Akron, PA: Mennonite Central Committee, 1980, 1976.

Pitney, John. Walk Lightly On the Earth: Apprenticing a Conscience for North America
A Home Like This: Seeking a Sacred Ethic of Community and Land.
(See page 14.)
Keeping the Garden CD

Terzian, Alexandra. The Kids Multicultural Art Book: Art & Craft Experiences from Around the World. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 1999.

The Earth Works Group. 30 Simple Energy Conservation Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. John Javna, 1990.

Wiessner, Colleen Aalsburg. Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees: Let All Creation Praise. Reformed Church Press, 1991.

For easy-to-access world information, check out the bimonthly Utne magazine.

NOTE: Obtain these resources from your local library or independent bookstore.


LIFE Lesson #1: Do Justice

[Graphic: Building L]

Learn about the nature of God's justice and consider how to be a doer of justice in our world.


Introducing the Theme

Song Suggestions:
"Jesus Talked to Children" by Farquharson and Klusmeier
"The Sharing Song" by Raffi
"The Church Within Us" by Kent Schneider
"What Does the Lord Require?" by Jim Strathdee
"When I Needed a Neighbor" by Sydney Carter

For Listening: "Where Will My People Lay Their Heads?" by John Pitney
(Play after the Scripture Presentation.)

Scripture Presentation:

"The Key to God's Kingdom" is a modern rendering of Jesus' parable of the rich man who asks him how he might inherit eternal life.

Don't feel restricted by the details of the dialogue. It will be most effective if it is performed without a script, even if it means the players don't get the words exactly right.

The Key to God's Kingdom

(A man saunters in wearing a suit, whistling and twirling a ring of keys on his finger.)
Rich Man: (Noticing the audience.) Oh, hello there. How are you? Are you having a fun time at (name the group that has gathered)? (Continue to make small talk with members of the audience for a moment.)
I guess you may be wondering about these keys. These are special keys and I try to take very good care of them. You see, these keys belong to all the things I own.
(Choose a key and hold it up.) Take this one here. This one belongs to my house. It's a really nice house. (Describe what a nice house looks like in your community. It may be on the beach or in the mountains. It may have a pool, beautiful gardens, or a top-notch security system. Have fun creating your dream house!)
(Choose another key.) And this one here, this one belongs to my car. Now this is not just any car. It's a shiny, new convertible. (Turn to an audience member.) What's your favorite color? Well, how 'bout that, my car happens to be that very color!
(Choose another key.) This key here, this is to a fire proof safe I keep at home. It has my spare change in it - you know, a couple thousand dollars or so just to get me through the weekend.
(Choose another key.) And this is to the shed I have in my back yard where I keep all the toys I can't fit in my house.
Anyway, you may be wondering what I'm doing here today. Well, even though I have keys to all the different things I own, there's one thing I don't have a key to - God's Kingdom. That's right. And I thought maybe someone here might be able to tell me where I can get one.
(Turn to a minister, program leader, or respected member of the church who is sitting near the front.) Hey, can you tell me where I can get a key to God's Kingdom? (Rich Man continues talking as the leader comes forward.) You see, I have all these other keys but I don't have a key to God's Kingdom and I thought maybe I could find one here.

Leader: Tell me, if you have all these keys, why exactly do you want a key to God's Kingdom?

Rich Man: Well, because then I would have abundant and eternal life.

Leader: I see.

Rich Man: It's the one thing I don't have.

Leader: Ah, I see. Well, it's interesting you should come here - to church - looking for a key to God's Kingdom because a rich man once came to Jesus and asked him for the same thing.

Rich Man: Is that right?

Leader: Yep. (Pause, offering no information.)

Rich Man: Well, what did Jesus say?

Leader: Do you know what it says in the commandments?

Rich Man: Well, I have to admit it's been a while since I learned them in Sunday School, but I could probably name some of the big ones...

Leader: No. That's what Jesus told the rich man who asked him for the keys to God's Kingdom. Jesus asked him what the commandments say we should do.

Rich Man: Oh. (Begin to walk away and then turn around.) What do God's commandments say we should do.

Leader: You know, "Don't murder. Don't steal. Don't bear false witness."

Rich Man: Oh! Well, I haven't done any of those things... at least not recently.

Leader: That's right.

Rich Man: What's right?

Leader: That's exactly what the rich man said to Jesus. He told Jesus he kept all the commandments.

Rich Man: Well then, if that's the end of the story, can I have my key now?

Leader: Not exactly. Jesus told him there's one thing he still needed to do.

Rich Man: What's that?

Leader: (Take the keys from the man) Sell all of your things and give the money to people who need it.

Rich Man: Jesus said that?

Leader: Yep.

Rich Man: But he didn't really mean it - did he?

Leader: (Nods head.)

Rich Man: Yeah. But that's not practical. I mean, where would I live? How would I get around? What would I wear?

(There is a dramatic pause while the rich man considers Jesus' words. The minister jingles the keys in front of the rich man as he thinks. Finally, the rich man grabs the keys and exits.)


Warming Up

Materials Needed:
Four clearly marked goals (buckets or baskets on the floor work fine)
Green Monopoly(tm) houses
Fish crackers
Small paper cups
Pitcher of water
Rubber balls (1 for every 15 players)
Table for collecting life goals

Designate four goals in the four corners of the room. One goal represents basic shelter (Monopoly(tm) houses), one goal represents basic food (fish cracker), one goal represents clean water (cup of water), and one goal represents luxury items (M&M's(tm)). Make sure each goal is marked with the item it represents so players can easily read them. Provide one ball for every 15 players. A small Earth ball would be great but a regular rubber ball is fine.

Before the game begins, point out the four goals and tell players they can earn the various life goals by tossing the ball in the designated goal. For example, if they toss the ball in the goal marked "basic shelter," they will earn one house. Announce that there are no rules for this game; whatever it takes to make a goal is fine. Also, there is no limit to the amount of goals one person can make in any one category. Blow a whistle and let the games begin! As they play, volunteers stand by the goals to distribute the appropriate prizes when each goal is made. Players will accumulate their prizes at a table until the game is complete.

Once economic disparity has been established (some are frustrated and others have accumulated wealth) have the players sit down and talk about how they think the game is going so far. How did those who were less aggressive or competitive feel about the game?

Have the volunteers return all the prizes and announce that you will be playing the game again only this time there will be one rule: everyone must make each goal only one time and then everyone will win.

[GRAPHIC: MonopolyFish]

Questions for Reflection: How was the second game different than the first? What were the challenges in playing the first game? the second? Which game did they like better? Who excelled at the first game and why? How is this game like real life? What might it mean to play life like the second game?


Going Deeper

If the World Were a Village
by David Smith and Shelagh Armstrong

Prior to class, write the 7 facts listed below from If the World Were a Village on 7 separate sheets of recycled paper - one fact on each sheet. Read each fact to the group and then have each person select a fact to illustrate. Each fact may need to be written on more than one piece of paper if you have more than 7 people in your group. Invite the participants to illustrate their fact by drawing simple figures and labeling them according to the fact provided.

For example, draw 60 simple figures with the caption, "Always Hungry." Then below it, 16 more simple figures with the caption, "Sometimes Hungry." Tell participants the purpose is to help others visualize the astounding facts, not astound others with their artistic abilities. Read and display the illustrated facts.

If the world were a village of 100 people:
60 people are always hungry
16 people go to bed hungry some of the time
24 people always have enough to eat

75 have access to safe water
25 spend a large part of the day finding water

60 have access to adequate sanitation
40 do not

68 people breathe clean air
32 breathe unhealthy air because of pollution

There are 38 school-aged villagers
31 of them attend school and there is
1 teacher for these students

Of the 88 people old enough to read,
71 can read at least a little
17 cannot read at all

If all the money in the world were divided equally, each person would have about $6200. The average cost of food, shelter, and other necessities is $4000 to $5000 per year. But in the global village, money isn't divided equally.
20 people have more than $9000 a year
20 people have less than $1 a day (or about $300 a year)
60 people have something in between, most have less than the $4000-$5000 a year needed to live decently

Optional Extend-a-Lesson:
Rather than simple figures on separate sheets of paper, illustrate the facts with a shared mural to be displayed in the church. Purchase a large piece of recycled paper at an art supply store and invite participants to draw and color/paint what our world looks like according to If the World Were a Village. This is a good option for older children or youth who enjoy being artistic and would like to make a statement.

[GRAPHIC: PeacePlanet]

PAGES 12-13

Living It Out

Option 1: A Friendly Chat with Jesus

Instead of sitting on Santa's lap and being asked what they hope to get, participants will sit with Jesus and he will ask them what they hope to give. Arrange to have someone attend the class to portray Jesus. Have him wait to put on his Jesus costume until he is in the class, since you are not trying to trick your class, but are inviting them to imagine Jesus among them. As he gets into his costume, he can say things like, "When Jesus was alive, people wore sandals like these on their feet. Men also wore long robes like this," etc.

Sitting on the floor, Jesus will ask the group about the day's lessons. Help them recall the parable presented in worship, the game, and the facts they illustrated from If the World Were a Village. Then, one at a time and using their names, Jesus will ask each student if he or she is ready to help him make the world more just by sharing with others. Jesus will invite them to consider one thing they can give in order to start this process. He should ask each person to name at least one thing. Together they can brainstorm ways of giving this object (or objects) to someone in need. Ideas include making a donation to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, selling the item at a consignment shop and giving the money to charity, giving the item to someone they know personally, or going without something (restaurants, birthday presents, vacation) and asking their parents to give to a charity instead.

After the conversation with Jesus, participants will draw a picture of their intentions to share with their family.

Option 2: Do an Impromptu Food Collection

Grab some bags and go on an impromptu collection for your local food pantry around your neighborhood. Bring along the If the World Were a Village facts you just illustrated and present them at each door. If the food pantry is within walking distance, you can drop off the food when you're done.

Prior to class, you will want to print post card size introductions to present to your neighbors with your group's name and mission printed on them. You may want to add the seven facts on the back so the donors can read them at their leisure. Have some fun and dazzle your neighbors by singing a simple song after you ring their bell (like Christmas caroling!). A song from Carols with Justice (from Alternatives) would be great.

[GRAPHIC: BuildingTheL]

Option 3: Assemble Care Kits

Prior to class, collect items for Church World Service Care Kits. They provide School, Health and Kid-to-Kid Kits for displaced persons around the world. You can find information about these kits by visiting their web site (www.cws.org). Get your whole church involved by collecting donations and/or request donations from area businesses. Assemble the kits with your class. Make it personal by including a special hand-made card from your students in each kit.

Option 4: A Letter for Peace and Justice

Part of doing justice means being a voice for the voiceless. Work together to write a letter for peace and justice and send it to a political leader. The web sites for Bread for the World (www.Bread.org) and Amnesty International (www.amnestyusa.org) provide sample letters for you to check out. Get the names and addresses of appropriate politicians (from your local public library or League of Women Voters), so you can send the letters that day. This option will be most effective with older participants and the closer to home an issue the better.

Option 5: Go on a Prayer Walk

This is especially effective if your church is located in a neighborhood that is economically challenged. Prior to going on the walk, collect petitions from your group by asking, "When you consider our community, what concerns do you have?" Invite each person to write a prayer focusing on one of the concerns.

Prior to class, choose the route for your prayer walk. It may be around the block of your church, or up and down Main Street. After writing the prayers, choose where each prayer will be presented. For example, if one concern focuses on drug and alcohol abuse, a good place for that prayer would be in front of a local bar.

Have an adult carry a lit Christ candle for the group and tell group members you will walk the route silently and prayerfully. When you get to a spot where a prayer will be offered, everyone will gather around the person offering the prayer and the petition will be read. After a few moments, the walk will continue. It may be helpful to choose a silent phrase people can offer while they walk such as "Christ is the light/May you shine today" or "God is love/May you love through me."

[GRAPHIC: CandleStick]


About the Musicians of the "Listening Songs"

John Pitney is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. He lives with his family in Oregon where he works for justice along side the struggling farm families there. His music and writings inspire a simpler way of life that is in touch with the land and community. John Pitney would love to hear from you at 1243 Melvina Way, Eugene, OR 97404 or compost@cmc.net.

Joyce Rouse combines extensive musical and theatrical training with a love for God's Creation in bringing Earth Mama to life. She lives in Nashville and travels the globe with her upbeat encouragements to care for this good Earth. Joyce Rouse travels extensively on music and speaking tours and can be reached at Rouse House, P.O. Box 1284, Brentwood, TN 37024 or mom@earthmama.org.

Thanks also to the many musicians who cooperated with us, especially those who donated the recordings of their songs for the CD: Linnea Good, JD Martin, Jim Strathdee and Sr. Miriam Therese Winter. Their contact information is given on the music CD insert.

[GRAPHIC: PeaceGuitar]

About the Author

Christine Battjes is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. She served as co-pastor with her husband, Don Battjes, at the Herkimer Reformed Church in Herkimer, New York, for 9 years. Christine has had the opportunity to bring the Word of God to life for both children and adults in a variety of settings including Sunday School, mid-week programs, outdoor ministries, retreats, and special summer programs. Christine is currently living more-with-less at the Presbyterian Camps in Saugatuck, Michigan where her husband serves as the program director. He generously illustrated The Good Life in his spare time. They have two children, Lydia and Luke, who stay busy taking care of the camp chickens, going on owl prowls, and swimming at the beach. You can contact Christine at 629 Perryman St., Saugatuck, MI 49453 or Battjes7@hotmail.com.


LIFE Lesson #2: Cherish the Natural Order

[GRAPHIC: Natural I ]

Create a sense of awe and appreciation for God's Creation and become caretakers of the Earth in our daily lives.

PAGES 16-17

Introducing the Theme

Song Suggestions:
"All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir," traditional
"Glory to God" by Jim Strathdee
"O Great Earth" by Linnea Good
"Rain on, Little Rain" by Marji Hazen
"Take off Your Shoes" by Jim Manley

For Listening: "It Is Very Good" by John Pitney from Keeping the Garden
(See Scripture Presentation Option 2.)

Scripture Presentation

Option 1:

You may choose to play a fitting classical music selection while this passage is read to add to the drama. Rather than limiting God's image to a particular gender and style, a chorus of 3-4 voices is used. It will be most effective to have the Divine Chorus stand in a place where they can be heard but are not a visual focus.

Prior to the opening session, find volunteers to bring "creation objects" forward during the reading. (See "materials needed" list.) These objects are placed on a central table as an illustration of the narrative.

Place a large calendar next to the narrator. Each time the narrator says, "And there was evening and morning," s/he will mark off a day to represent the passage of time.

Choral Reading of Genesis 1
based on the New Revised Standard Version

(Make the room as dark as possible before the narrator begins.)

Narrator: In the beginning when God created the heavens and the Earth, the Earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let there be light!

(Lights are turned on.)

Narrator: And there was light. And God saw that the light was good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh.

Narrator: God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness Night. And there was evening and morning, the first day. (Mark off Monday on the calendar.) Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let there be a dome of blue sky above the Earth.

Narrator: And suddenly the sky appeared. And God saw that it was good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh.

Narrator: And there was evening and morning, the second day. (Mark off Tuesday on the calendar.) And God said,

Divine Chorus: Let the waters be gathered together in one place and let the dry land appear. (Globe enters and is placed on the table.)

Narrator: And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters were called Seas. And God saw that they were good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh.

Narrator: Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let the Earth bring forth plants of every kind. (Potted plants and fruits and vegetables appear and are placed on either side of the globe.)

Narrator: And it was so. The Earth brought forth plants bearing vegetables and fruit of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh. (One member of the chorus noisily bites into an apple.) Mmm mmm!

Narrator: And there was evening and morning, the third day. (Mark off Wednesday on the calendar.) And God said,

Divine Chorus: Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. (Different size white candles appear and are placed on the table.)

Narrator: And twinkling stars appeared in the sky. God made the brightest light, the sun, to rule over the day and the lesser lights, the moon and stars, to rule over the night. And God saw that they were good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh.

Narrator: And there was evening and morning, the fourth day. (Mark off Thursday on the calendar.) Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the Earth in the sky. (A fish bowl with a fish and a bird cage with a bird are brought it. If live animals are not available, use stuffed props.)

Narrator: So God created fish and dolphins, seagulls and robins, and every kind of animal that swims in the waters and flies in the air. And God saw that they were good.

Divine Chorus: (With breathy adoration) Ahhhhh.

Narrator: God blessed them and told them to multiply. And there was evening and morning, the fifth day. (Mark off Friday on the calendar.) Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let the Earth bring forth living creatures of every kind. (Bring in a representation of stuffed animals and place them on the table.)

Narrator: And all kinds of critters appeared on the Earth. God made the wild animals of the Earth, and all kinds of cattle, and everything that creeps upon the ground. And God saw that it was good.

Divine Chorus: Awwwww. Aren't they cute?

Narrator: Then God said,

Divine Chorus: Let us make humankind in our image. (Bring in a male and female doll and place them upright on the table.)

Narrator: And God made human beings, male and female, and they bore the image of God within them. God blessed them and made them caretakers of all Creation. God looked around and saw everything that had been made and said,

Divine Chorus: (With breathless adoration) Ahhhhh. It is good . . . very, very good!

Narrator: And there was evening and morning, the sixth day. (Mark off Saturday on the calendar.)

PAGES 18-20

Scripture Presentation

Option 2:

John Pitney's "It Is Very Good" offers a musical rendition of the creation account from Genesis 1 which begs to be illustrated with a simple liturgical dance. (And we do mean simple!) If you are working with a larger group who likes to move, this option is for you.

This Scripture presentation requires a space that can be darkened and allows for your entire group to sit in a large circle without obstacles. Once everyone is seated in a circle, the lights are turned out and the song begins. As the song plays, various objects representing parts of Creation are placed in the center of the circle for display. While each step is not choreographed, the Creator Spirit and the Creator Servants should move in a free and poetic fashion that embodies the music. The refrain, "It is good, very good..." offers a simple response between verses which even the youngest child can prayerfully sing.

In preparation for the song, you will need the following movement leaders and creation objects:

Movement Leaders:

Creator Spirit - Dressed all in white, this person holds the two fans and orchestrates creation
Creator Servants - Four people dressed in a uniform color (dark is better) who bring objects in

Creation Objects:

Two hand-held fans (non-electric)
One large white candle with a plant stand or small table
One large, clear bowl filled with water
Several rocks of various sizes
Potted plants and flowers
One large cardboard sun and one large cardboard moon
Fruit, vegetables, and other objects representing food
Stuffed animals representing different creatures (one for each participant)

It Is Very Good by John Pitney

The song begins with an extended musical introduction which builds anticipation. Some children may giggle or react to the unusual music and thunder sounds. Preparing the children ahead of time and gently reminding them that they are listening to a sacred story will help them obtain a quiet spirit. (You may copy this song for your event.)


Verse 1: When the Earth lay without form
And dark was the face of the deep
Then a Mighty Wind, yea, began to swarm
And stir the primal water from sleep.
Then came the Spark, "Let there be light!"
And then the first dark awoke the night
And the infant dawn broke into day -
And all was right.

Refrain 1: It is good, very good, it is good, very good;
all is right, it is very good.

Verse 2: Then the Sacred Cyclone began to grow
And shrove those primal waters and between
And drove the sky and down below
Ocean, river, faulting bedrock, steam.
And then the River expressed the sound
And the cool mist caressed the ground
And the ebbing tide first kissed the shore -
It was profound.

Refrain 2: It is good, very good, it is good, very good;
it is profound, it is very good.

Verse 3: Gales, floods, and glaciers then carved the crust
Scouring soils for the embryonic world
Abloom with billions of microbes thrust
From this womb of the ages and furled,
Yes furled its greens across the times -
Prairies, forests for every clime
And all the seas with memories filled -
It was sublime.

Refrain 3: It is good, very good, it is good, very good;
it is sublime, it is very good.

Verse 4: Then a Grinning Thunder joined the fun
Hurling stars awonder 'cross infinity
And spinning Earth around the sun
Tilting her in gracious gravity.
Casting high and higher rays
And longer shadow and shorter days,
Summer, autumn, winter, spring
It did amaze.

Refrain 4: It is good, very good, it is good, very good;
it does amaze, it is very good.

Bridge: Then the spirit upwelled
And the waters they leaped with monsters and fish
And the land crawled and creeped
And winged things a'feathered did fill up the sky
Migrating with the weather and singing.
A new day was nye.
And then the plates trembled
And the continents fled.
All life reassembled and species were spread
As granite crust twitches made mountain divides,
The planet in niches bore fruit and multiplied.
Then dinosauric imperfections and Cenizoic resurrections,
Evolutionary re-selections did see
The planet down across the ages
Bear fruit in fits and starts and stages
'Til the Earth we know today came to be.
With a gam of grey whales... Creation is good!
A richness of martens and a party of jays
Are swooping and squawking and talking in Praise,
These wild celebrations coaxed even the sharks
That all of Creation is one Invocation
A Wondrous Sensation, a Standing Ovation
Like an Exultation of Larks
Yes, a Wild Celebration, a Vast Congregation,
A Sacred Vacation like an Exultation of Larks!

Verse 5: Then Great Mysterious said, "Of this world,
Of all relations let us form humanity:
Athabascan, Navaho, Nez Perce, Anasasi and Cree."
Earth their mother, Wind their prayers,
Sun their brother, all are heirs.
Whate're befalls Earth, befalls their kind -
Earth is not theirs.

Refrain 5: It is good, very good, it is good very good;
it is not ours, it is very good.

Verse 6: Now the world was Sabbath, all was rest
Sap migrating, hibernating bees
And even humans stopped their quest:
Greed abating, accumulating ceased.
Now the ducks were molting, the salmon have run
Their children smolting they die in the sun,
Their Body feeding the slumb'ring trees -
Now all was done.

Refrain 6: It is good, very good, it is good very good;
it's never done, it is very good.
It is good, it is good, it is good, it is very good!


Creator Spirit enters carrying a fan in each hand and moves around the perimeter of the circle fanning gently.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in a Creator Servant who is carrying a lit candle. The Servant places the candle on the plant stand located at the center of the circle.

Invite participants to sing each refrain.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in a Creator Servant who is carrying a large, clear bowl of water. The water is placed at the foot of the lit candle. You may choose to elevate the bowl with a small crate which has been covered with a blue cloth.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in the Creator Servants who carry rocks, one at a time, and place them around the water and candle. Then they bring in the plants and place them beside the rocks and water.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in two Creator Servants. One carries the sun and the other carries the moon. The sun and moon are attached to the side of the plant stand by the candle.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in the Creator Servants who glide around the perimeter of the circle like birds and creeping things (use your imagination!).

At the word "fled," the Creator Spirit and Servants exit the stage.

Creator Spirit uses the fans to usher in the Creator Servants who carry in the food items.

"The great whales" are the first of many creatures mentioned. As the song continues, the Creator Spirit touches participants with a fan and guides them to the center of the circle where they place their stuffed animal by the Creation scene. Be prepared to fill the time with random dancing around the circle after all the stuffed animals are placed.

Creator Spirit and the Creator Servants invite participants to stand in a circle. Joining hands the circle sways back and forth gently.

Raise and lower hands slowly as the refrain is sung.

Creator Spirit invites participants to fold hands in front of their bodies and lower their heads as a sign of rest.

Raise and lower hands slowly.

Raise hands and wave in exultation.


Warming Up

Materials needed:
Rubber ball or beach ball (1 for every 12-15 people)
A variety of objects for distraction (food, clothes, books, CDs, toys, car keys)

Divide the group into teams of 12-15 people. Make sure a variety of ages and sizes are included on all the teams. Arrange each team in a circle and explain that it is their responsibility to keep the Earth in balance as it makes its way through orbit. The Earth is represented by a soft, large ball like a beach ball or rubber playing ball. If you can find an Earth ball, that would be a bonus! You'll need one ball for each team.

One player begins by tossing the Earth ball to another player across the circle while calling out his or her name. The tossing continues until everyone has caught the Earth ball only once. This establishes an orbital pattern for their ball. Players will then continue tossing the Earth ball in the same pattern as quickly as possible without dropping the ball. In other words, if Joey passed the ball to Judy the first time, he will do so throughout the game. If the Earth ball is dropped, players pick the ball up and continue playing.

After each team has established an orbital pattern and are keeping the Earth ball in motion, it's time to throw in a "consumer clinker." Approach one person on each team with an object (food, a toy, car keys, clothing, etc.) and insist, "You need this. . . [name the object]." That person must hold on to the item while helping to keep the Earth ball going through its orbit. Continue adding objects until it becomes impossible to keep the Earth in balance.

Questions for Reflection:
What made it difficult to keep the Earth in balance? How did they feel about someone telling them, "You need [a certain object]," and then handing it to a member on their team? How did you feel about the people who were burdened with the objects? How was this game like trying to be a caretaker of God's Creation?

Going Deeper

Earth Keeping with The Lorax
by Dr. Seuss

Present Dr. Seuss' The Lorax to your group. You may simply read the picture book or you may choose to view the video. (Borrow them from your public library.) The video takes some liberties with the story line, but offers a rendition of the book that is powerful for people of all ages.

Optional Extend-a-Lesson:

Instead of just reading the book or watching the video, act it out with an impromptu theater. Have items available for simple props and costumes. Consider learning it well enough to present to a Sunday School class or church gathering.


Living It Out

Option 1: Guerrilla Gardening

In The Lorax, the little boy is invited to plant the last remaining Truffula Tree seed with the hope of repairing the damage done by the Thneed factory. One way to answer this invitation is to do some planting around your own neighborhood. You may choose to plant a tree in a barren spot or in someone's yard. Or plant flowers in an area of your community that could use some beautification. Try to pick a spot that is unexpected and will make a real difference. Be sure to talk about how the new plants will be nurtured once the class is done. It would be unfortunate to do some guerilla gardening only to have it look like a gorilla trampled through your garden a month later.

[GRAPHIC : GardenIvy]

Option 2: Making a Recycled Sculpture

Pick up trash around the church neighborhood or in a nearby park. This is a good way to respond to today's lesson all by itself and it's a real eye opener to discover the quantity and the kind of trash that litters our streets. If you choose to pick up trash, be sure to provide rubber gloves for each student and find a section of your neighborhood that you can completely clean in the time allotted.

Using hammers, glue, wire, and duct tape, make some of the collected items into a trash sculpture. Leave the sculpture on display for the week and be sure to include a sign that tells people where the items were found, e.g., "The following sculpture was made possible by the litter from Grove Street."

Option 3: Nature Bingo

Whether you are located in the country, suburbs, or city, you can always find interesting critters and plants to amaze your students. Prior to class, put together a scavenger hunt with indigenous nature items for the group to find. Make bingo-type cards on pieces of card stock or recycled cardboard listing one item per square. Or, if you have time and participants are older, have them brainstorm possibilities and then make their own cards. Work together in small groups to try to get a bingo or fill the card. Remind players not to touch the object. Provide crayons for marking the bingo card.

While the items you choose will depend on your location, you may want to include such things as:
An ant crawling on the grass/sidewalk
A spider's web
A bird's nest
A dog or cat
A bird's feather
A certain color flower
A rock that is smooth
A tree with flowers
A ladybug
A stone with multiple colors
A bush with prickly needles or leaves
A leaf with several points
A tree with more than one trunk
Grass that is more than one color

After the game, gather the students together in a quiet location where they can talk about their discoveries. Invite each student to talk about one critter or plant they found especially interesting. Follow-up by collecting suggestions on how they might care for the Creation they just experienced.

Option 4: Turning Green

Even though God has ordained us to be caretakers of Creation, our church buildings are not always models of Christian stewardship. Create a list of suggestions on how your church building can reflect your desire to care for Creation, such as not using disposable cups/plates, using efficient energy and lighting, etc. Check out Earth Ministries web site at . Then consider how your church building measures up to each of your suggestions and discuss how you might address some of them.

Option 5: Creation Caretaker Pledge Collect ideas on how each person can care for Creation in their daily lives. After making a list of options, have participants choose 4 or 5 they would like to commit to living out. Make and decorate pledge sheets. Here are some caretaker possibilities to get started:
Choose food items (like cereal) with a limited amount of packaging
Reduce the number of fast food meals you eat as a family
Refuse to use paper plates and cups
Ask to go to a nature center instead of a mall for fun
Use scrap paper whenever possible
Look for recycled paper when buying school supplies
Attend to needs of the family pet
Learn the names of flowers, trees and animals
Shop for clothes at consignment and thrift shops
Give used toys and books away as gifts instead of buying new
Borrow books from the library instead of buying them from book stores
Turn off the air conditioner during the summer and keep the heat low during the winter
Take care of the family garden and grow your own fruits and vegetables
Ride your bike, walk, take public transportation, or car pool when possible

[GRAPHIC: TurningLeaf]


Words for the Listening Songs

Where Will My People Lay Their Heads?
by John Pitney

Refrain: Where will my people lay their heads?
Oh where will my people lay their heads?
They'll lay their heads on sidewalks
While the wealthy have
their warm, warm beds.
Oh where will my people lay their heads?

1. A rich man came to Jesus
and he thought that he could buy
A lifetime full of happiness,
but then came Jesus' straight reply:

2. Jesus said for rich
to enter happiness 'tis not
Much harder than a camel
passing through a needle's tiny eye.
Then who can be saved?
Who can be saved?
For we have left our homes for you,
our families and lands.
Our mothers and our brothers
giv'n reluctantly into your hands.

Refrain: Give up your home and follow me.
All Creation is your family.
This treasure will be yours to keep
Through all God's vast eternity.
Oh, open your hearts and follow me.

It Is Very Good
by John Pitney
See pages 18 - 20.

We Are One
by Joyce Rouse

Chorus: We all live on the same Earth
We fish and swim in the same oceans
We breathe the same air
And gaze at the very same moon
We feel the warmth of the same sun

We have Sisters in Nicaragua
Their sun is burning
From the chemicals used in fuels
Where they make their living
We have Brothers in Indonesia,
Their eyes are stinging
From the burning of rain forest trees
We clear them for grazing

We have Elders in ancient forests
Who mourn the passing
Of species of flowers
And birds crowded out by our taking
There are children in war town countries
They are all of our Children
They can't remember a night time of peace
With no shooting or crying

Love Large
by Joyce Rouse (duet with Scat Springs)

There is a love so great
I cannot get my words around it
It is bigger than the heavens and the seas
I do believe this love is growing ever stronger
But it needs a little help from you and me

Chorus: Love Large
Larger than you have ever seen
Love Large
Larger that you can even dream
If you believe in your heart of hearts
Love can change the world
We can learn to love ourselves
And everybody else
And Love Large

Sometimes loving large means
Hanging on a little longer
Sometimes all it means is letting go
If you listen to the still small voice
There in your heart
It will tell you all you need to know

Earth Pledge
by Joyce Rouse

I pledge allegiance to the Earth
And to the Flora, and Fauna,
And human life that it supports;
One planet, under God, indivisible
With clean air, water and soil,
Economic justice, freedom and peace for all!

NOTE: These songs are copyrighted by the artists. See page 14 for more information. You MAY copy this page/these songs for your "The Good Life" event without further permission. For your convenience the texts are also on the curriculum CD-ROM.


LIFE Lesson #3: Learn from the World Community


Celebrate the various cultures in our world community and learn how people in other countries live a simply abundant life.


Introducing the Theme

Song Suggestions:
"For the Healing of the Nations" by Kaan and Smart
"The Great Parade" by Avery and Marsh
"Hallelujah," a song from Palestine
"We Are Marching," a song from South Africa

For Listening: "We Are One" by Joyce Rouse from Love Large
(Play it at the siesta time during the world's fair)

Scripture Presentation:

Recruit 8 people to read the verses from the Epistle selections below. Encourage them to wear simple, international clothes such as hats, shawls and shirts. The costumes do not have to match the location of the Epistle reading, they're just meant to spice up the presentation.

As the various New Testament locations are mentioned, the presenters will pop up in front of the participants and read their verses from a scroll as if it is part of a New Testament letter. (You can make simple scrolls by gluing paper onto empty paper towel rolls.) Do not read the Scripture verse citation. It is for reference only.

After presenting their verses, the readers fade into the background as participants respond by singing an upbeat Palestinian folk song, "Hallelujah." The song will be most effective if it is sung a few times and if rhythm instruments are added along the way.

Prior to beginning the presentation, determine the directions North, South, East, and West within the room and point them out to the participants. Explain that they will be invited to turn and face the various directions as they are mentioned in the reading. Once everyone is clear about the directions, you are ready to begin. Shorten at will, especially for younger children.

[GRAPHIC: CompasCommunity]

PAGES 27-29

Around the World and Back Again

Narrator: The Apostle Paul cared about people - not just the people in his hometown, but in other parts of the world as well. After he became a follower of Jesus, he spent a lot of time sailing across the seas, meeting people from different countries, and talking with them about Jesus Christ. Wherever Paul traveled, he found the Spirit of God at work and, when he wrote letters to the Christians in these places, he always gave thanks to God for the faithful ways they lived out the Gospel. Let's stand and travel around the world together - or at least around the room! And at each stop, we'll hear about Paul's experience of God's people in different lands. Paul once traveled north to Philippi. (Participants stand where they are and face the North.) There he met a Jewish woman named Lydia who was baptized by Paul and became a leader in the early church. Here is what he said in a letter to Lydia and the community of faith in Philippi.

Voice 1: I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1.3-6)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: Paul also traveled east to a large city called Ephesus. (Participants turn to the East.) This was a modern metropolis with a huge library, advertisements carved into the marble sidewalks, and a state of the art water and sewage system. Friends of Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Ephesus on his behalf which included these words:

Voice 2: I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I have not stopped giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Jesus Christ, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which you have been called. (Ephesians 1.15-18)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: Paul sailed south to Jerusalem the center of Jewish life during the time of Jesus. (Participants turn and face the South.) Unfortunately, Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with a committee about a disagreement he was having with another disciple named Peter. It was a family meeting of sorts. A New Testament letter addressed to the Hebrews may have been written to the community of faith living in Jerusalem.

Voice 3: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12.1, 2a)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: More than once Paul traveled west to cities such as Corinth. (Participants turn to the West.) Paul was so impressed with the community of faith he found in Corinth that he wrote to them on several occasions. These writings were put together into one letter which became two of the longest Epistles in the New Testament. Listen in to Paul's dialogue with the Christians in Corinth.

Voice 4: I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given to you in Christ Jesus. For in every way you have been enriched in Christ, in speech and knowledge of every kind so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by God, you were called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1.4, 5, 7, 9)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: Paul also traveled north to Thessalonica, a large, capital city of Macedonia. (Participants turn to the North.) While in Thessalonica, he worshiped in the Jewish synagogue and talked with Jewish people about Jesus Christ. Because of his teachings, many believed and began to follow the way of Jesus. Paul wrote two letters to the Christian community in Thessalonica. The first letter was addressed to the non-Jewish people who had questions about their new faith. Here is what he said to them:

Voice 5: We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that God has chosen you, because our message of the Gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1.2-5a)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: Paul traveled west to Galatia where the Christian community was a blend of Jews and non-Jews. (Participants turn to the West.) In the letter he wrote to the Christians in Galatia, he addressed some of the challenges they were experiencing as they tried to live with their religious diversity. Namely, some wondered whether the non-Jewish people had to convert to Judaism before they could become Christians. Here is Paul's answer in brief:

Voice 6: In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Just as many of you were baptized into Christ, you must clothe yourselves with Christ. For there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ. (Galatians 3.28)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

[GRAPHIC: Hallelujah]

Narrator: Traveling South, Paul found a community of believers in Colossae. (Participants turn to the South.) The church had not been founded by Paul, but probably by Epaphras. Still, Paul wrote a pastoral letter to the Christians in Colossae and affirmed them for their faithfulness.

Voice 7: In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the Gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. (Colossians 1.3-6)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: Paul's last trip took him West to the center of the New Testament Empire: Rome. A church had been established in Rome before his arrival, and Paul wrote a letter to the Christians there prior to his visit. It is his longest letter and begins with these words:

Voice 8: First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God's will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1.8-10)

RESPONSE: Sing "Hallelujah"!

Narrator: As you have heard, the Apostle Paul found that God was at work throughout the world. The same is true in our day - people around the world are following Jesus and living out the Gospel in a variety of ways. Today we are going to explore some of these countries and hear how they are living as people of faith in their own communities, and may we join the Apostle Paul in saying, "Thanks be to God."

[GRAPHIC: HallelujahMusic]

PAGES 30-32

Warming Up

Celebrate at a world's fair with amazing facts and active games from around the world. Decorate small tables for each center to match the particular country being represented. A trip to the local library or some time on the Internet will help you include pictures of the nation's flag, simple props, costumes, music, and pictures of indigenous people. Be sure to post the amazing facts listed below for visitors to read. Above all, have fun!

Divide participants into groups of no more than 8. Have groups rotate together from station to station with a signal every 10-15 minutes to tell them when it's time to move. At each station, a group will hear how people in other countries are living more simply and then play a game. Depending on the time you have allotted for this activity, each group may not get to every station. That's okay. Quality is more important than quantity.

Include the following learning centers in your world's fair but feel free to add your own.

1. Columbia - Bogota is the capital city of Columbia and it is home to 7 million citizens. Even though America's news media paints Columbia as a disaster area terrorized by drug lords, Bogota has won world recognition for its attempts to curb auto traffic. The city sports 155 miles of bike paths, the largest network in Latin America. And on Sundays, 95 miles of major avenues are closed to traffic as an estimated 2 million residents come out to enjoy a car-free day in the streets. Elected officials in Bogota have set a goal to eliminate all peak hour traffic in the city by 2015.

Set up a simple bike rodeo (preferably outside) for participants to try. The easiest way to do this is by drawing a path with sidewalk chalk which bikers must follow. Have the path go around obstacles, over small bumps, spray them with squirt bottles, and even have bikers pick up objects along the way. Are you worried about having the right size bike for different size participants? Don't be. Have everyone ride a tricycle!

2. Ireland - Americans throw away 100 billion polyethylene (plastic) shopping bags a year. The bags litter the streets and choke thousands of marine animals annually, and the bags' inks create a toxic seep in landfills. In order to discourage the use of polyethylene bags, Ireland instituted a 17-cent-per-bag tax in March 2002. The tax has reduced plastic bag use by 90 percent. (From "Utne," January-February 2003)

Have a grocery relay with three players. Each person must move a pile of groceries from one end of the room to another. Be sure to provide enough groceries for each person so they have to make more than one trip a piece. Here's the catch, one person will be given a plastic bag, one person will use a paper bag, and one person gets a canvas bag. If any of the bags break, too bad. Players only receive one bag and they must continue until all the groceries are carried into "the house."

[GRAPHIC: IrishBag]

3. Czech Republic - In February 2002, the Czech Republic became the first country to enact national legislation aimed at eliminating light pollution. The bill titled "Protection of the Atmosphere Act" passed both houses and it took effect June 1, 2002. The new law defines "light pollution" as "every form of illumination by artificial light which is dispersed outside the areas it is dedicated to, particularly if directed above the level of the horizon." One of the major ways cities in the Czech Republic will prevent light pollution is through shielding. Caps are installed over street and parking lot lamps so they only shine down on the streets and not up into the sky. (From www.space.com)

Gather 6 shoe boxes, flashlights, and baseball caps for a light pollution toss. Cut holes in the tops of the shoe boxes that are big enough to hang the flashlights in light side up. The flashlights should stick out from the top of the shoe box at least 4 inches. Place the boxes at one end of the playing field and, with masking tape, mark a line a few feet away from the boxes. This will be the throwing line. Have participants toss the baseball caps and see if they can cover the glowing flashlights. You may want to decorate the sides of the boxes with facts about light pollution.

4. France - Every morning, millions of Americans jump on a treadmill that keeps them going from sun up until sun down: work, school, sports practice, music lessons, clubs, church groups, volunteer time, shopping... whew! But that is not the pace of life everywhere in the world. Many countries observe a siesta time in which stores, schools, and businesses close for a few hours in the afternoon. France is famous for guaranteeing its workers a 35 hour work week, 11 public holidays, and a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation. According to John De Graaf, organizer of an event called "Take Back Your Time Day," "an epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment." (www.TimeDay.org)

Provide a siesta space for participants. Find a quiet space outside or in the sanctuary. Consider setting up a tent with comfortable chairs inside. Or bring in a lawn chair. Carefully burn candles. If it's hot, plug in a fan or drape damp towels around necks. Whatever creates an environment for 5 minutes of R & R. This is also the time to play "We Are One" by Joyce Rouse.

Before taking a break, have participants make a healthy soda pop drink to enjoy. Just mix together in a glass:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons apple juice concentrate (thawed)
1 cup soda water
3 ice cubes

(Recipe from "Pretend Soup" by Mollie Katzen)

5. Mexico - Quarter pound hamburgers, marinated steaks, juicy pot roasts. . . what's wrong with this picture? Living more simply means eating a diet that can be more easily sustained in a world that is growing in population and shrinking in resources. Beef cattle are poor converters of grain to food protein. In the song "Common Thread," Pat Humphries reminds us, "We can feed our grain to cattle and the rich men will be fed... Or we'll feed our grain to people so that millions will have bread." So let's learn from our brothers and sisters in Mexico whose protein comes from a daily intake of beans - refried bean burritos, rice and beans, baked lentils with cheese - instead of beef. Yumm! (From "More-with-Less Cookbook")

Play a round of Don't Spill the Beans. Gather at least 2 other players and see how many beans you can put on the cup before it falls over. You can keep playing by the rules until one person has all the beans. Or, if you're short on time, modify the game by playing until the beans spill once. Make a Don't Spill the Beans game by placing a small paper plate on top of a soda pop bottle. Place dry beans on the plate one at a time until the plate falls over.

6. Costa Rica - Much of the world's coffee is grown by small farmers, purchased at negligible prices by middlemen, and then bought and sold on a commodities market thousands of miles away. But fair trade coffee is a great alternative for justice-seeking coffee lovers. Fair trade companies work directly with small farmer cooperatives like the one led by Carlos Murillo of Costa Rica. These cooperatives ensure coffee bean farmers earn a fair wage and are graced with just living conditions. Fair trade tea, cocoa and chocolate bars are also available. (From www.equalexchange.com)

Make 4 cardboard signs with string to hang around someone's neck to play coffee bean scramble. On two signs write, "Major Big Coffee Company/$$$$$$$$" and on the other two write, "Humble Coffee Cooperative/Drink for Justice." Dump a bag of coffee beans in a pile of sawdust. A large plastic bin or toddler pool works well for this.

To begin, ask participants if they would like to pick beans for the major big coffee company which makes lots of money or the humble coffee cooperative that helps people drink for justice. Tell them they will get paid according to how many beans they pick. Make sure you have a least one person picking for each company. Give the players 1 minute to pick as many beans out of the sawdust as they can and place them in a bucket or bowl.

After 1 minute, have the pickers count their beans. Give everyone $1 in play money for each bean they picked. Then turn to the people who worked for the major big coffee company and inform them they did not own the land from which they were picking so they owe $2 in renter's fee (from each picker). Also, the major big coffee company hired another company to process and package their beans and that cost will come out of their salary - take $2 more dollars. Finally, the CEO of the company gave himself a raise - take $1 dollar. Turn to the humble coffee cooperative workers and inform them that they get to keep all the money they earned.

If they were to pick coffee beans again, which company would they work for now? Which company should we buy from?

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Going Deeper

Words of Advice from Around the World

Once your class is gathered together, spend a few minutes talking with them about their experience at the world's fair. What countries did they learn about? What do they remember about the countries? What activities did they do?

After collecting their experiences, help them imagine a person from one of the countries they visited writing a letter to your class. What might someone from Columbia say about the automobile traffic in our community? What advice might a local grocery store receive from Ireland?

Make simple bumper sticker posters to illustrate the above reflections. For example, "Put an end to pollution: ride your bike!" Or "Drink guilt free - buy Fair Trade." If you are working with younger children, you may choose to brainstorm a list of possibilities before making the posters.

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Optional Extend-a-Lesson:

Share with your class the impressions from global visitors to the United States with your class found below. The impressions below were recorded in Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre.

After reading the reflections, invite your class to write an imaginary letter from a visitor of the United States. If someone were to visit your town from one of the countries represented at the world's fair, what would they observe and what advice might they offer?

Barbara Walz from Germany noticed, "The large and comfortable cars impress me. People waste a lot of energy using them. They don't like to go ten steps - they always need their cars. They have large cars, although only one person uses them. Some older couples have two big cars." She might suggest we build an energy-efficient public transportation network among small towns and cities.

Sylvia Furgler from Austria says, "Americans eat lots of cookies. There is always a can with sweet things nearby - you only have to reach out and put it in your mouth. From the Austrians, Americans could learn to use more 'full food,' such as whole wheat, raw fruits, and vegetables." She might suggest we learn to cook simple, nutritious meals.

Finally, Inez Morals de Rake from Bolivia notes, "North Americans have to work more in order to buy things. For that reason they spend less time with their families, thinking that to be comfortable is more important for the family than to give them love and time together." She would probably suggest we value family ties and friendship above making money.


Living It Out

Option 1: Decorating Canvas Shopping Bags

We may not have a per-bag-tax on plastic bags like Ireland, but we can reduce the use of plastic bags by using canvas bags whenever we go shopping. Some stores give a per-bag refund if you use canvas bags. For this project, purchase at least one bag for each student. Decorate the bags using fabric paint and stencils. You may want to write Earth friendly slogans on the side as a way of witnessing to others, such as "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Restore-Respond."

Option 2: Baking Around the World

Make a snack using a recipe from a different country. Don't worry, it doesn't have to include beans! There are many cook books available that provide easy recipes from around the world. If you need a suggestion, "Kids Around the World Cook!" by Arlette N. Braman offers tasty treats in a format that is easy to use.

Option 3: Serving Up Some Coffee (and Cocoa)

Support Carlos Murrilla and his cooperative in Costa Rica by encouraging the use of Fair Trade coffee (and cocoa). Consider some of the following suggestions: Have your class arrange to make Fair Trade coffee, tea and cocoa available at church for congregational and personal use. Phone area stores and restaurants and find out how many sell and use Fair Trade products. Make a simple informational postcard about Fair Trade coffee including the businesses that provide Fair Trade products and distribute to members of the congregation. Write letters to area stores, restaurants, and businesses encouraging them to use Fair Trade products.

Option 4: Getting From Here to There

Invite everyone to consider the various trips they make in one week. Include trips to the grocery store, to work, to a friend's house, to school, to music lessons and sports practices. Have them estimate the distances of each trip and add them up. How can they make their travels more efficient? (Biking or walking instead of driving, public transportation, car pool, doing multiple errands in one trip, etc.) Perhaps you'll want to write your elected officials and tell them about Bogota, Columbia. How can we work together to make transportation more efficient?

Option 5: Host a Global Feast

Invite some global guests to visit your class. Your church may have internationals among its membership or perhaps some people have traveled to other countries and would be willing to share their experiences. If you live in or near a larger city, a refugee center or the international student department of a college may be able to help you make connections.

Ask your guests to dress internationally and invite them to bring music, pictures, food, or other items from their corner of the world - anything that will help bring their home to your class. Give each guest the opportunity to talk about their homeland (or the country they visited). Encourage them to focus on what we in the United States can learn from their country.

You may choose to invite your global guests to participate in the whole day, from the beginning worship time to the end. This would enrich the learning experience for everyone.


LIFE Lesson #4: Nurture People

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Celebrate old friendships and make new ones as we discover the treasure of nurturing people over treasuring things.

PAGES 36-38

Introducing the Theme

Song Suggestions:
"I Have Love" by Linnea Good
"One More Step" by Sydney Carter
"Sing of a Blessing" by Miriam Therese Winter
"Unity" by Jerry Derstine (JD Martin)

For Listening: "Love Large" by Joyce Rouse
(Play it as participants arrive and exit the picnic scene.)

Scripture Presentation:

Today's Scripture presentation will take place at an informal picnic. Put enough small blankets and/or table cloths on the floor so that 6-8 people can sit at each picnic spot. Provide a bowl of grapes and a tray of crackers at the center of each picnic blanket for picnickers to munch on during the presentation. A host will welcome everyone to the feast and introduce the theme. Then several friends of Jesus will wander from blanket to blanket speaking with picnickers.

Rather than providing a word-for-word monologue, you will find information about each "Jesus friend" along with suggestions for what to include in a presentation. The idea is to have each volunteer sit by a group and interact with them in a conversational manner. After a few minutes, the presenter will ask a specific question for reflection and then move on to a new group. Depending on the size of the group and the time allotted for this activity, the presenters may or may not get to every picnic group in the room.

The Power of Friendship

Host: Welcome to our friendship feast! You may be wondering why I'm calling this a feast when there's not a lot of food - just some grapes and crackers. Well, this is not a feast like the kind you may have on Thanksgiving or Christmas. This is a feast of friendship. Now that doesn't mean you're going to nibble on the person sitting next to you. But, by sitting together and sharing a simple snack, hopefully we will get to know one another better.

In the Gospels we're told that Jesus did a lot of this kind of feasting. He loved to be with people - walking with them, talking with them - and it was his top priority to nurture and care for others. So today, as you share this simple picnic with your friends, you're going to meet some of Jesus' friends and hear how befriending Jesus made a difference in their lives.

Zacchaeus - The Little Man Who Had a Big Transformation

Scripture reference: Luke 19.1-10

Facts about Zacchaeus:

Zacchaeus was a tax collector - an employee of the IRS. Adults can understand why someone like Zacchaeus would not be popular with the masses since many of them are less than enthusiastic about having to pay taxes themselves. But in Jesus' day, tax collectors were more than just the brunt of jokes and eye rolling. They were pawns of the Roman government and rejected by their own communities.

Jewish citizens of the Roman government had their own tax collectors who were also Jews. While the government would set the amount of money that needed to be gathered from each state in the Empire, it was up to the tax collector to determine how much each individual would have to pay.

The amount of taxes you were asked to pay would depend on whether or not you had given a bribe, whether or not the tax collector happened to be behind in his payments to the government, or whether or not the tax collector liked you.

To make matters worse, tax collectors were not paid directly by the government. Instead, they were free to set their own salary and then collect the money from people as they came to pay their taxes.

Zacchaeus was keenly interested in seeing Jesus. But because he was a small man and the crowd around Jesus was large, Zacchaeus climbed up in a tree to get a better look. When Jesus passed by the tree, he looked up at Zacchaeus and, after having a good laugh, he invited himself to Zacchaeus' house.

The Bible doesn't tell us the details of their visit, but we do know that after spending time with Jesus, Zacchaeus gave half of his possessions to the poor. He also went back to all the people he had cheated and paid them back four times what he had taken.

For this presentation: Dress like an IRS employee with a white shirt and tie. Introduce yourself as an IRS employee and be prepared to explain the nature of your business. In simple terms, point out the difference between collecting taxes today and collecting taxes in Jesus' day as noted above. Talk about how much you wanted to see Jesus and how you climbed up in a tree to see him. How did you feel when Jesus said he wanted to come to your house? Imagine what the conversation was like; what might Jesus have spoken to Zacchaeus about? Then, in closing, focus on your incredible response. A good reflection question for them as you leave might be: If Jesus were to come to your house, I wonder what changes might happen in your life?

A Paralytic - His Friends Gave Him a Lift When He Needed One

Scripture reference: Matthew 9.2-8

Facts about the paralytic:

S/he was paralyzed, unable to walk.

We know nothing of the paralytic beyond the account in Luke - not even a name. But one thing is for sure, s/he had some good friends.

In Jesus' day, people with diseases or infirmities were often shunned. Religious leaders, like the Pharisees who were gathered around Jesus that day, taught that physical illness was caused by sin - if not your own, then the sin of a family member before you.

Yet the paralytic and his friends did not abide by this teaching. Rather they had enough faith to believe Jesus could cure the paralysis so, in faith, they placed their supposedly unclean friend right in the middle of a crowd of cleanliness guardians.

This story illustrates what it means to nurture relationships in many ways. Obviously the paralytic's friends cared enough to go through the bother of getting him to Jesus. But beyond that, they were true, spiritual friends who guided the paralytic to the One who could help.

Author M. Scott Peck defines a true love as someone who helps you grow spiritually. Given this definition, the paralytic shared real love with his friends who carried him to Jesus.

For this presentation: Dress in casual, modern day clothes. By way of introduction, you may want to present a "before" picture of yourself: you laying on a stretcher as a paralytic. Explain that you used to be a paralytic. You will probably need to define this for young children. Talk about your friends who took you to see Jesus that day. Describe in detail the crowd of people, the plan to cut a hole in the roof, and what it was like being lowered down to come face to face with Jesus. After telling them how Jesus healed you, reflect on the nature of true friendship; how your friends did not abandon you in your time of need but guided you to Jesus. A good reflection question for them might be: I wonder if you have a friend who helps you to know more about Jesus?

Martha and Mary - The Hostess with the Mostest

Scripture reference: Luke 10.38-42

Facts about Mary and Martha:

Before the days of Holiday Inn, travelers often stayed in the home of a friend or family member. If they entered a village where they didn't have a friend, Jewish hospitality required that someone take the visitor into their home for the night. In this story, Jesus is traveling through Bethany and he decides to stay in the home of Mary and Martha, two friends who are happy to have him.

Mary and Martha are the sisters of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead.

In this dinner scene, Jesus is reclining at the table while Mary sits at his feet. This is a traditional rabbi/student posture. What makes this scene unusual is to see a rabbi figure teaching a woman. While women were not prevented from learning the Torah (the Jew's holy book), most rabbis would not "lower themselves" by instructing women. And most women would not presume to eat with men.

In Jesus' day, it was the duty of women to perform the household duties. Given this custom, Mary was neglecting her responsibilities - she was not being a good hostess - which would traditionally be judged as a lack of care and respect.

But Jesus turns this around. He declares that Mary has made the better choice because she realized that she could care for Jesus by spending time with him, not necessarily by cooking a fancy meal or making sure the house was cleaned.

For this presentation: You may choose to include both Mary and Martha for this presentation, or simply include Mary. Begin by asking the picnickers what they would do if a special visitor came to their house? How would they prepare for the visit? What would they do when the visitor got there? Talk about the expectations that were placed on women during the time when Jesus visited: cooking, washing the dusty feet of visitors, washing laundry, getting water from the well, etc. Now imagine what Jesus' visit would be like if Mary/Martha had to do all these things. They wouldn't have time to spend with Jesus. Tell them how Mary chose to respond in the midst of these expectations. A good reflection question might be: I wonder if there is someone in your life who would like to spend time with you?

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PAGES 39-40

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Warming Up

The following activities were inspired by the stories presented from Scripture during worship. They are not competitive games. Rather, they provide opportunities to practice working as a team. Depending on your time, you may choose to do 2-3 of these activities instead of all 4. Divide into groups of 5-6 people. Have the teams rotate through the different activities, or have enough materials for each team to do the activity simultaneously. Remember, this is not about winners and losers so avoid competition as much as possible.

Turning Over a New Leaf with Zacchaeus:

Materials needed: Tarp, Play money

Prior to the activity, sprinkle the play money on the tarp. Explain that they will be turning over a new leaf like Zacchaeus did and that they will try to maintain friendships and their acquired wealth in the process. All the players on a team begin by standing on the tarp. By pulling on the corners of the tarp, the team must try to turn the tarp over.

This works best if they try to fold the tarp over itself, allowing players to step along as best they can. Players must stay on the tarp at all times and they cannot touch or pick up the money. If someone falls off, they are out. If money falls off, it is considered gone.

The question is, can they turn over a new leaf and maintain friendships and money at the same time? Or will they have to choose between people and money? Briefly review what the team learned.

A Paralytic's Foot Race:

Materials needed: None, though you may want to do this activity outside where the ground is softer

Mark off a start and finish line approximately 100 feet apart. Tell the team that they are going to have a foot race but, instead of competing with each other, they will work together. When you call out a number between 10 and 4, the entire team will race to the finish line with only that number of feet touching the ground. In other words, if you call out the number 6, some people will need to be carried while others run. See how low they can go and then briefly review what the group learned.

Deep Listening with Mary

Materials needed: Copies of the interview questions below

Pair up the people in each team. It's okay if you end up with a few groups of three, but try to avoid it as much as possible. Give each person the "A" list of interview questions below and tell them it is their responsibility to find out this information from their partners. While they are having a conversation, however, they must also complete several tasks which you will give them to do. After 5 minutes, call the pairs back together and give them the "B" list of interview questions. Once again they must acquire this information from their partners but, this time, they can sit down in a quiet place to do it. After 5 minutes, call the group back together and reflect on the differences between the two conversations. Which set of answers do they remember best?


1. Name a family vacation you really enjoyed? What did you like about it?
2. If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be? Why?
3. Describe one of your best friends.


1. Name a book you've read recently. What do you like about it?
2. Describe one of your neighbors.
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be? Why?


Arrange to do housekeeping chores around the church (empty recycle bins, sweep floors, do dishes, dust the sanctuary). Or use these suggestions:
1. Do 25 jumping jacks
2. Run around the church or parking lot once
3. Sing a song from beginning to end
4. Do the hula hoop
5. Jump rope

Going Deeper

Make copies of "How to Build Community" from Syracuse Cultural Workers for everyone. Have participants mark off the ways they are already doing some of these things. Then talk with them about the items they selected.

How do the items they checked help them build community? Which things would they like to add? If you have a lot of young children in your class, you may need to define community for them. (See page 6 for info about Syracuse Cultural Workers.)


How to Build Community
o Turn off your TV
o Know your neighbors
o Greet people
o Look up when you're walking
o Sit on your stoop
o Plant flowers
o Use your library
o Play together
o Share what you have
o Help a lost dog
o Go to the park
o Honor elders
o Fix it even if you didn't break it
o Garden together
o Pick up litter
o Read stories aloud
o Dance in the street
o Talk to the mail carrier
o Listen to the birds
o Put up a swing
o Help carry something heavy
o Ask a question
o Do odd jobs for a neighbor
o Organize a block party
o Bake extra and share
o Ask for help when you need it
o Sing together
o Listen before getting angry

(c)1998 SCW Community. Free "Tools for Change" catalog at (315) 474-1132. See your leader for details.


Living It Out

Option 1: A Communal Community Mural

Illustrate the ideas for building community from Syracuse Cultural Workers. But instead of working on the pictures individually, invite your group to work together on a single mural. Display the mural in a prominent place in your church along with a copy of the suggestions.

Option 2: Host a Tea Party

Invite 3-4 people of different ages to join your class for a tea party. Young children love to have pretend tea parties, now they can host a real live one with their friends. Help them prepare for the get together by picking wildflowers, making name cards, and setting out simple beverages and snacks. Lest you become a group of "Marthas," be sure to prepare in the most important ways as well. Talk with your group about the people you have invited. Prepare a list of questions they might want to ask. Consider what it would mean to host your visitors like Mary hosted Jesus.

Option 3: The People in Your Neighborhood

If your church is located near area businesses or services, this is an option you might want to consider. In her book "Nickel and Dimed," Barbara Ehrenreich says she went days without hearing her name mentioned when she worked as a waitress in a restaurant. How many times do we interact with people in our neighborhoods without taking the time to get to know them? So arrange to have your group pay a neighborly visit to a local establishment like a diner, the library, the police station, or a small business.

Bring a simple gift such as a loaf of bread, a plate of cookies (decorated by your group), or a vase of hand-picked flowers. Be sure to learn everyone's name and spend time discovering what life is like for the people in your neighborhood.

Option 4: Shut-In, But Not Shut Out

Arrange to have your group visit one of the shut-ins of the congregation. Prepare for the visit by providing information about the shut-in if s/he is not well known to the entire group. Consider what you might want to talk about with the shut-in since their life is often insulated. You may invite someone along who can serve communion to the entire group, if your tradition allows for this. If you have time, make a simple gift before going on your visit. Hand drawn pictures are always appreciated.

Option 5: "Time with You" Coupons

Have your group make a list of ways they can nurture relationships in their lives. Below are some suggestions to get your started. Invite everyone to choose 5-6 of their favorites and print them on a piece of paper for a coupon. If you have time, you can decorate the coupons and make a cover or envelope for them. Then when they want to nurture friendships at home, they just pull out a coupon and cash it in.

Ways to nurture friendships:

Go for a bike ride or walk together
Play in a neighborhood park
Do a chore together
Play a board game
Read a book aloud to one another
Do an art project or craft together

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LIFE Lesson #5: Nonconform Freely

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Clarify the values that set us apart from others and nurture the kind of community that helps us nonconform freely.

PAGES 44-46

Introducing the Theme

Song Suggestions:
"God's Rainbow" by Donald Schmidt
"Christ Is Changing Everything" by Habel and Koehneke
"Teach Me Kingdom Ways" by Nancy Miner Guenther
"Turn the World Upside Down" by Linnea Good

For Listening: "Earth Pledge" by Joyce Rouse (Play it after "Warming Up.")

Scripture Presentation:

Jesus was known for being a nonconformist. The Word of God was written on his heart and he brought this Word to life, even when it meant going against the grain of his culture. While some appreciated and benefited from this nonconformity, others were shocked by it. Jesus was especially offensive to the religious people of his day. With this in mind, today's Scripture presentation imagines what would happen if Jesus were to visit your church today. How might he choose to noncomform when it comes to certain rules or traditions within your community of faith?

Below are possible scenes from an imaginary visit by Jesus. Each scene has a member of your congregation talking about their encounter with this "crazy guy" that came to church last Sunday and sharing their reactions to his behavior. Select 4-5 scenes that would most challenge your congregation and have different people prepare to share them with the audience.

What If Jesus Visited My Church?

Jesus Ushers in All God's Children - I've always considered (name of church) to be a friendly church. I know as an usher, I do my best to be sure to welcome whoever walks through our doors. But last Sunday, this new guy - someone I'd never seen before - took it upon himself to greet people out by the street. Maybe someone recruited him to do that, I don't know, but he got a little carried away in my opinion.

I mean, there he was standing on the curb waving at people as they drove by like we were having a car wash or something. Oh sure, he got a chuckle out of some people, but others swerved to the other side of the road to get away from him. If that wasn't bad enough, he started ushering people in who just happened to be walking by. He escorted them by the arm into the sanctuary and I heard him say to one lady,'"You look like you could use a little pick me up. Why don't you come inside and praise God with us for a while." Here's the strange thing, she seemed almost relieved that someone finally noticed her. She stayed through the whole service and I saw her talking to that guy after worship. I don't know, maybe she was as crazy as he was.

Anyway, if he shows up next Sunday, I think the leaders will have to do something about it. People are going to start avoiding this church if we get too pushy. We're just lucky no one reported us to the police.

Friendly Notes on the Friendship Pad - (If your church has a way of registering people in worship, use the language that fits your congregation for this scene. Otherwise, instead of a friendship pad being passed down the pew, have Jesus pass a note.) Last Sunday I was preparing my heart and mind to worship God when the guy sitting next to me passed the friendship pad my way. On it he had written that his name was "Joshua," that was it, just "Joshua." And his address was the Kingdom of God. Yeah, right. He also checked off that he was a member of this church, but I know I've never seen him here before.

Anyway, when I went to sign my name, I noticed that he had jotted a little note to me in the margin. It said, "That's a nice car you drove to church. God wants you to sell it and give the money to (name a local mission)." He may live in the Kingdom of God, but I live in the real world and, I tell you, I need that car to get around.

When I looked over at him, he smiled this goofy smile and kept nodding his head at me. I don't know what he was thinking. But I do know that if he sits by me next Sunday, I'm moving.

Loving God Heart and Soul - I've always enjoyed the services here at (name of church). The music is good, the prayers are nice, and (name of pastor) always preaches a good sermon. Well, maybe not always; everybody's entitled to a bad day. But last Sunday, something strange happened while we were singing. It was a favorite song of mine about praising God with different instruments - I believe it's based on Psalm 150, but that's neither here nor there. As we started to sing the chorus - that's the different instrument part - a man in front of me turned around and handed me a tambourine.

I don't know what he thought I was going to do with it. I can't even read music. But when I didn't move, he shook my arm a couple of times and the thing started jingling. I have to admit it did sound kind of nice. After a few beats, I really got the hang of it! He handed out other instruments to the people around me and pretty soon that chorus really came to life. It sounded just like I always imagined Psalm 150: '"Praise the Lord! Praise him with tambourine and cymbals!"

I was a little disappointed when the choir director (or music coordinator/worship leader/usher) came and took all the instruments away. I guess we were getting a little out of control. After all, it wasn't written in the bulletin that we'd be using instruments and we hadn't practiced. Oh well. I wonder if he'll come back this week. I heard we're going to sing a song about the trees of the field clapping their hands.

One Bread, One Body - (This scene should be performed by the preaching pastor or the person who traditionally serves communion.) I've always prided myself on being ecumenical; I don't believe one denomination is better than another and I welcome all Christians into our church. But on Sunday, we had a visitor come to our church, and he made a complete spectacle of himself during the service.

I had just given the sermon/homily - it was a pretty good one, if I do say so myself - and we were preparing to have communion together when this gentleman stood up and shouted, "Hold on, we're not all here yet!" He jumped out of his seat, ran out the front door and was gone for a few minutes. I figured he was having some kind of problem and, now that he was gone, I could go on with the communion service. I would try to find him after worship and see if everything was all right.

But then, just as I was getting ready to break the bread, in came this gentleman again. Only now he was escorting several people from (name of a nearby church of another denomination, especially one in which sharing communion would be a radical idea). Most of them were looking as stunned as I felt, but they obediently gathered around the communion table led by the strange gentleman. Once they were all in, he said, "Okay, now we can begin."

It was a strangely beautiful communion service on Sunday, especially since we were singing "One Bread, One Body" (or a familiar song about Christian unity). I do wish that stranger would have spoken with our leadership board first, however. We may have been able to schedule a joint service with (name of other church) - then again, maybe getting God's children together doesn't happen by committee.

Making Prayer Personal - I wasn't feeling well when I woke up last Sunday. I had a splitting headache and my body hurt all over. I figured it was a cold or the flu coming on; a lot of people I know have been sick. Still, I didn't want to miss worship so I dragged myself out of bed, took an aspirin, and made my way to church.

I was a little late for worship and everyone was already singing when I slipped into my pew. I managed to smile and wave at the visitor who was sitting next to me and I think I carried on pretty well. At least, I didn't think anyone could tell I was feeling sick. But then when it came time for prayer, the strangest thing happened. The visitor who was sitting next to me, the one I waved at, he scooted over, put his hand on my shoulder, and started to pray for me. It was really weird.

Somehow he knew my name and he said, "Heavenly Father, I pray for (insert your name) who is not feeling up to snuff on this Sabbath morning. Take away her headache and the aches and pains in her body and deliver her from the illness that is to come. Amen." He did all this while the pastor was praying up front, and I looked around to see if anyone was noticing. Thankfully no one did. But when he finished, he squeezed my shoulder gently and I was able to look into his kind eyes.

I don't know if it was just in my imagination or not, but I really did start to feel better after his prayer. By the afternoon I was feeling as good as always and I never did get that dreaded cold that's been going around.

Going Nuts Over the Donuts - I really enjoy hosting the fellowship time after worship. It gives me the chance to try some of the new recipes I've clipped from my Sweets for the Sweet magazine: chocolate drizzle cookies, peanut butter brownies, coconut cake with pineapple frosting. Perhaps I over do it sometimes; you know, 6 plates of cookies may have been a bit much. But that's no excuse for the way this visitor acted last Sunday.

There we were, enjoying our after worship sweets over a cup of coffee, when I noticed this man packing my cookies into a box he had found in the kitchen. At first I thought he was trying to help by cleaning up, so I went over there to tell him it wouldn't be necessary. Fellowship time had just started and I was sure people would want seconds. But when I walked up to him he said, "You don't mind if I pack up the rest of these and take them over to (name a local shelter or soup kitchen). The residents there would love them and it looks like everyone here has had plenty, if you know what I mean."

Well, I absolutely didn't know what he meant. I'm as generous to charity as the next person, but giving those people dozens of homemade baked goods was ridiculous. There were still 15 minutes left before the end of fellowship time and not everyone had tried my special cocoa caramel cookies yet. But before I could grab the box out of his hand, he said to me, "Oh, and by the way, do you know if the church serves Fair Trade coffee, tea and cocoa? If not, I have a brochure about it you might want to pass on." Then he walked off; he just walked out the door with all my cookies in his hand and I was left holding a brochure about Fair Trade beverages.

I tell you, it will be a while before I offer to host fellowship time again - especially if we have people like that guy around.

Unless You Become Like a Child - The nursery is always a fun place to be at church. The babies are so cuddly and the toddlers are cute. Sometimes we have trouble keeping the older kids out. They like to play with the baby toys, but we just remind them that the rules say you have to be 5 years old or younger to be in the nursery.

On the flip side, it can be hard to find adults to volunteer in the nursery. They always want to be in worship and Sunday School, which I can understand. That's why I was so surprised last Sunday when a full grown adult came waltzing into the nursery, sat down on the floor, and started playing with the children. He was great with the kids; they loved him and everyone wanted to sit in his lap at once.

As he played, he told me that the adult Sunday School class was getting boring. They were arguing about whether or not it was okay to get a divorce if you're a Christian. He said the children are the ones who are most hurt when adults get divorced, so he decided to leave behind the debate and come take care of the kids with me.

I honestly don't know who that guy was. He never told me his name and I didn't ask. I don't know if he'll come back or not, but if he does, I hope he volunteers to be in the nursery again.

PAGES 47-48

Warming Up

[GRAPHIC: CuttingFreedom]

Materials Needed:
White candles or flash lights
Candy hearts or heart shaped cookies
Salt shakers
Small dolls
Costumes for the cultural czars
Large Christ candle in a central location

Divide into groups of 6-8 people of different ages. Each group is going to hunt for the following objects which represent aspects of God's Kingdom and have been hidden around the church:

Object Representing
white candle or flash light the light of Christ
candy heart or heart shaped cookie the sweet love of God
salt shaker the mission of the church
small doll the call to become like children

Lest this scavenger hunt seem too easy, designate several adults to act as culture czars who can snuff out the light of Christ and confiscate objects. The number of culture czars you need will depend on the size of your group and play space, but 1 czar for every 10 people is probably good for starters. The czars should dress up in ways that express cultural expectations: oversized clothing logos, power ties, jewelry, trendy accessories, etc. While the teams are hunting for their objects, they try to distract the players with comments like, "You don't want to become like a child. You want to be a big, successful man in this world." "The love of God? Nonsense! That kind of love will just make you a door mat." "Don't bother looking for that stuff. I've got what you really want... a big house, fashionable clothes, lots of toys."

Each team is free to come up with it's own strategy for how to find the objects but they must follow these rules:

1. When you find the light of Christ (candle or flash light), bring it to a central location - preferably the sanctuary - to be lit. If you are using flashlights, players will come to this location to receive their battery.

2. If a culture czar tags a member of your team, you must relinquish an object of his or her choice for the czar to rehide. The czar may require you to eat the candy or the cookie if he or she desires.

3. If your team is able to join hands and place the light of Christ in the center of your circle prior to being tagged by a culture czar, you are immune to the czar's power. You may then keep all of your objects and continue the hunt after the czar departs from you.

4. You may not, however, walk around and search for objects while holding hands.

5. Once all the objects have been found, return to the central location and sit in a circle on the floor until the other teams have completed the hunt.

Questions for Reflection:

What made it hard to seek God's Kingdom? What enabled you to find the objects and keep them? What would have made this game easier for your team? In conclusion, introduce the idea of allegiances and then play the song Earth Pledge.

[GRAPHIC: HouseCommunity]

PAGES 49-50

Going Deeper

I Pledge Allegiance to...

A key to nonconformity is switching our allegiance from the kingdoms of this world to the Kingdom of God. With a vision of God's Kingdom before us, we can more easily choose between what God wants for our lives and what friends, the media, and our culture think we should be. Nonconforming freely becomes easier and more joyful when seeking God's Kingdom becomes our primary focus.

Before pledging allegiance to a nation's flag, potential citizens need to know what the nation stands for. Look up the teachings of Jesus from Matthew's Gospel below and choose one or two words that summarize each of the Kingdom values being taught. Then make a flag by decorating a piece of fabric or large piece of paper with pictures that symbolize these Kingdom values. Discuss what it would mean to pledge allegiance to the nation represented by this flag.

Matthew 5.1-12 - "The beatitudes."
Matthew 5.13-15 - "Be salt and light."
Matthew 5.43-45 - "Love your enemies."
Matthew 6.19-21 - "Treasures in heaven."
Matthew 16.24-25 - "Follow me with a cross."
Matthew 18.1-4 - "Become like children."
Matthew 18.21-22 - "Forgive 77 times."
Matthew 22.34-40 - "Love God, love others."

Living It Out

Option 1: Create a Family or Personal Pledge

Consider how you, or your family, would like to seek God's way personally and put it in writing. Stephen Covey's 7 Habits series of books affirms that acting out of a clearly defined mission is the most effective way to live. This project will be especially beneficial if your group is comprised of families or youth.

Use the teachings from Matthew's Gospel discussed above as a guide. What would it mean for you to live these principles out in concrete ways? Keep your pledge simple and memorable so it can serve as a guide in your daily life. You may want to begin with the words, "I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ and the Kingdom to which he belongs..."

If you have time, record your pledge on a nice piece of paper you can display at home. You can make a simple refrigerator magnet by decorating a small matting frame with stencils and colored pencils. Tape your pledge inside the frame and stick magnetic strips on the back.

Option 2: A Child of God's Kingdom

Here's a new twist to an old favorite for young children. Trace around each child's body on large pieces of paper. Try to avoid newsprint; it rips easily. Talk about the unique ways each child can live in God's way even when it means they must act differently than others around them. You may want to refer to the Kingdom principles from Matthew's Gospel discussed earlier and have participants choose a specific action for each teaching. Invite members of your group to decorate the outlines of their bodies according to how they hope to live in God's way. For example, they can draw a heart with pictures inside of people they want to love - especially enemies. Or draw a hand with two "peace fingers" up declaring their intention to be forgiving towards others. Or maybe color empty pockets coming out of their pants because they want to give their money to the poor.

Option 3: Invite Jesus to Your Church

During worship time, you considered what it might be like if Jesus were to visit your church. No doubt Jesus would challenge all of us, including the most faithful church, if he were to spend time among us. Spend some time talking about the changes Jesus might want to make in your church. Compile a written list of the student's suggestions. Pick one or two that the group would like to do something about. Come up with an action plan for how to make these changes and delegate responsibilities to members of the group.

Option 4: Practice Makes Perfect

Have your group name situations in which nonconforming is difficult: someone is teasing a classmate; a new kid is sitting alone in the cafeteria; it seems like everyone has the newest, cool shoes and you want some but they cost $150. Divide the group up and have them put together a brief skit to illustrate one of the situations they've named. Then perform the skit for the rest of the group

After presenting a skit, have the whole group brainstorm possible ways they can nonconform freely when the situation arises.

Option 5: A Parade of Fools

From the earliest days, Christians were considered fools because of their lifestyle. They shared their possessions in a culture that looked to acquire wealth; they refused to serve in the military at a time when military might was honored; they forgave and loved others in ways that went beyond what seemed reasonable. They nonconformed freely even when they were ostracized and dismissed as fools by the people around them.

Practice nonconforming freely by becoming a parade of fools. Bring dress up and vintage clothes, face paint, and wigs. Spend time dressing up like clowns. Draw symbols of the Christian faith on yourself with the face paint. Make signs stating a Jesus teaching to hang around your neck. Parade around a populated area of your neighborhood. You can prepare a simple song or skit that communicates some of the foolish teachings of Jesus.

Afterwards, discuss how it felt to be clowning around? How was this experience like or unlike nonconforming freely as a Christian? What would make it easier to nonconform freely in your world?

[GRAPHIC: FoolishFace]


The Good Life Curriculum Promotion Kit

Thank you for your leadership in using The Good Life Curriculum!

This Promotion Kit is designed to help you increase interest and participation among the people in your parish or congregation, school and community for an event or series that uses The Good Life Curriculum.

This kit will help you encourage people to come to the Vacation Bible School or other event and then to use the Participant's Music booket at home or elsewhere.

If you choose not to hold an event at your own congregation or parish but want to help raise interest so that individuals and families will particpate at a VBS or event at another congregation or parish, thank you.

More copies of any items in the curriculum kit are available from Alternatives. You may copy any part of this Promotion Kit.

THIS KIT COMES ON The Good Life CD-ROM for your convenience.

The kit contains:

• Media release for your hometown newspaper or church newsletter. Adapt the release to your situation. If the release is too long, cut from the end. Use your letterhead and the current date. Include your name and phone number as a contact person.
• Public Service Announcement (PSA) for hometown radio, cable, TV, website.
• Bulletin inserts to copy and hand out at worship services.
• Ads to clip and paste into your newsletter or other publications. Get the size you want by enlarging or decreasing the size of the bulletin insert on your photo copier.
• Flyer/Poster for your bulletin board or throughout your buildings, or to distribute. To increase a bulletin insert (5.5 x 8.5) to a flyer (8.5 x 11) is usually 150%. To increase a bulletin insert to a poster (11 x 17) is 200%.
• Worship bulletin, newsletter, fax, email blurbs. These short pieces/paragraphs can be inserted virtually anywhere.
• Pulpit announcements for use the months before the event to prepare the people to sign up. These can be adapted to urge the people to sign up even if the event is not at your church.

Thanks again. Your feedback is welcome - both to the booklet and this kit.

PSAs: Public Service Announcements
(radio, TV, cable)

Life Too Stressed? Want to Bring Your Family Together and Simplify? To Learn and Practice the Five Steps of Voluntary Simplicity? Here's Help...

____ Church will use THE GOOD LIFE curriculm at [event] on [days/dates] at [time]. The public is welcome. _____ Church is located at [address]. Call [phone number] for more information.

This [Vacation Bible School/event] is designed [for children age _-_] [for families of children, parents and grandparents, and for individuals]. [Cost, refreshments, registration]

These "Five Lessons to Nurture Simplicity Within Christian Communities" include lots of music and dramatic Scripture presentations; active games with reflection questions; sharing the day's lesson in small groups; and putting the lesson into action.

Based on the Five Life Standards of Voluntary Simplicity, the five Life Lessons are: Do Justice, Cherish the Natural Order (Care for Creation), Learn from the World Community, Nurture People, and Nonconform Freely .


[your letterhead]


Editors: For more information, contact [your name/phone] _______________

____ Church Celebrates "The Good Life"

"_____ Church will use 'THE GOOD LIFE' curriculm at [event] on [days/dates] at [time]. The public is welcome," said [name], [title]. _____ Church is located at [address]. Call [phone number] for more information.

This [Vacation Bible School/event] is designed [for children age _-_] [for families of children, parents and grandparents, and for individuals]. [Cost, refreshments, registration]

These "Five Lessons to Nurture Simplicity Within Christian Communities" include lots of music; dramatic Scripture presentations; active games with reflection questions; sharing the day's lesson in small groups; and putting the lesson into action.

Based on the Five Life Standards of Voluntary Simplicity, the five sessions are:

• LIFE Lesson #1: Do Justice - Learn about the nature of God's justice and consider how to be a doer of justice in our world
• #2: Cherish the Natural Order - Create a sense of awe and appreciation for God's Creation and become a caretaker of the Earth in our daily life.
• #3: Learn from the World Community - Celebrate the various cultures in our world community and learn how people in other countries live a simply abundant life.
• #4: Nurture People - Celebrate old friendships and make new ones as we discover the treasure of nurturing people over things.
• #5: Nonconform Freely - Compare our values with others and build the kind of community that helps us nonconform freely.

[Insert testimonials from the back cover or use local comments.]

An extensive web site offers hundreds of inspiring articles for individuals and editors to use. Also a North American network of over 800 volunteers ready to give talks, workshops, help organize events and simplicity circles and study/action groups.
Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org.

A free copy of the popular "Ten Tips for a Simpler, More Meaningful Celebrations" is available at
These resources are appropriate for reevaluation of Christmas and for simpler living all year. "The Christmas Game" promises hours of family storytelling for all ages. Other Christmas titles include the video "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Simplify & Celebrate: Embracing the Soul of Christmas," "Unplug the Christmas Machine," "Carols with Justice," "Christmas Campaign Kit," collections of Christmas stories and numerous titles for children. #####



Life Too Stressed? Want to Bring Your Family Together and Simplify?

Here's Help...
The Good Life
A Five Session Intergenerational Event

[Days & dates, time]
[Place, address, food]
[Cost, registration]
Contact ____________
It's Fun! It's Inspiring!
Bring the Whole Family!
For more help visit SimpleLivingWorks.org. (c)2005 Alternatives for Simple Living. Used by permission. (recycled paper)

Hey, Kids!
The Good Life [GRAPHIC:RunningFree]

[Days & dates, time]
[Place, address, food]
[Cost, registration]

Contact __________

It's Fun! It's Inspiring!
Sign Up Now.
For more help and a free catalog of ideas, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org. (c)2005 Alternatives for Simple Living. Used by permission. (recycled paper)


Bulletin Blurbs
for The Good Life

#1 - Life Too Stressed? Want to Bring Your Family Together and Simplify? To Learn and Practice the Five Steps of Voluntary Simplicity? Here's Help...
_____ Church will use THE GOOD LIFE curriculum at [event] on [days/dates] at [time]. The public is welcome. _____ Church is located at [address]. Call [phone number] for more information.
This [Vacation Bible School/event] is designed [for children age _-_] [for families of children, parents and grandparents, and for individuals]. [Cost, refreshments, registration]

#2 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
These "Five Lessons to Nurture Simplicity Within Christian Communities" include lots of music; dramatic Scripture presentations; active games with reflection questions; sharing the day's lesson in small groups; and putting the lesson into action.
Call [phone number] for more information.

#3 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
Based on the Five Life Standards of Voluntary Simplicity, the five Life Lessons are:
#1: Do Justice. Learn about the nature of God's justice and consider how to be a doer of justice in our world.
Call [phone number] for more information.

#4 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
Life Lesson #2: Cherish the Natural Order. Create a sense of awe and appreciation for God's Creation and become a caretaker of the Earth in our daily life.
Call [phone number] for more information.

#5 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
Life Lesson #3: Learn from the World Community. Celebrate the various cultures in our world community and learn how people in other countries live a simply abundant life.
Call [phone number] for more information.

#6 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
Life Lesson #4: Nurture People. Celebrate old friendships and make new ones as we discover the treasure of nurturing people over things.
Call [phone number] for more information.

#7 - THE GOOD LIFE is coming to [event] on [days/dates] at [time].
Life Lesson #5: Nonconform Freely. Compare our values with others and build the kind of community that helps us nonconform freely.
Call [phone number] for more information.

Pulpit Announcements
for The Good Life

Life Too Stressed? Want to Bring Your Family Together and Simplify? To Learn and Practice the Five Steps of Voluntary Simplicity? Here's Help...
_____ Church will use THE GOOD LIFE curriculm at [event] on [days/dates] at [time]. The public is welcome. _____ Church is located at [address]. Call [phone number] for more information.
This [Vacation Bible School/event] is designed [for children age _-_] [for families of children, parents and grandparents, and for individuals]. [Cost, refreshments, registration]
These "Five Lessons to Nurture Simplicity Within Christian Communities" include lots of music; dramatic Scripture presentations; active games with reflection questions; sharing the day's lesson in small groups; and putting the lesson into action.
Based on the Five Life Standards of Voluntary Simplicity, the five Life Lessons are:
#1: Do Justice. Learn about the nature of God's justice and consider how to be a doer of justice in our world.
#2: Cherish the Natural Order. Create a sense of awe and appreciation for God's Creation and become a caretaker of the Earth in our daily life.
#3: Learn from the World Community. Celebrate the various cultures in our world community and learn how people in other countries live a simply abundant life.
#4: Nurture People. Celebrate old friendships and make new ones as we discover the treasure of nurturing people over things.
#5: Nonconform Freely. Compare our values with others and build the kind of community that helps us nonconform freely.


Tell Us What You Think

Group Name (optional): ___________________________________________________________

Contact Information: ______________________________________________________________

In what context did you use The Good Life?
___ Confirmation
___ Vacation Bible School
___ Youth Group
___ Sunday Morning Program
___ After School Program
___ Mid-Week Program
___ Other: ___________

Were participants primarily
___ Lower elementary age
___ Upper elementary age
___ Youth
___ Intergenerational including adults

Please rate the following on a scale of 1-5 (1=not effective at all, 5=very effective):
1. Overall format of the lessons 1 2 3 4 5
2. General content of the lessons 1 2 3 4 5
3. Scripture presentations 1 2 3 4 5
4. Warming Up activities 1 2 3 4 5
5. Going Deeper activities 1 2 3 4 5
6. Living It Out activities 1 2 3 4 5
7. Song selections (for singing and listening) 1 2 3 4 5

What aspects of The Good Life were especially effective and meaningful for your group?

What suggestions would you make for future versions of The Good Life?

Please email SimpleLivingWorks@yahoo.com.


Thanks for telling us what you think about "The Good Life." Please email the questionaire to SimpleLivingWorks@yahoo.com.

"Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly" since 1973



Want to Learn More about the Five LIFE Standards?
(from "Living More with Less,"
the basis for "The Good Life" curriculum)

Visual Aids, Take-home Gifts & Prizes!

5 Life Standards of Living More with Less in beautiful color!
Available from Syracuse Cultural Workers (See p. 6 above.). Prices may vary.
•POSTER - 12x24. $12 each, 5 for $55, 10 for $100.
•BOOK MARK - $1 each, 6 for $5; 10, $7.50; 25, $15; 50, $25.
•POST CARD - See book mark prices.


Curriculum supplies available from ELCA Archives. Prices vary.

• Curriculum on paper (plus both music booklets) 50+ pp.
• Curriculum on CD-ROM (plus both music booklets on paper)
• Music CD (plus both music booklets)
• 1 leader and 1 participant music booklet (Sorry, this music may not be copied.) 50 pp. each.
• KIT: Curriculum on paper, both music booklets, and music CD in binder with tabs. [KIT: paper and CD-ROM.]
• KIT: Curriculum on CD-ROM, both music booklets & music CD in binder with tabs.
• Participant music book
1. One poster, bookmark & postcard
2. LMWL Study Set, poster, bookmark, postcard
3. VBS KIT; LMWL Study Set; poster, bookmark & postcard


The Good Life
5 lessons to nurture simplicity
and goodness in Christian community
(based on the five life standards of Living More with Less)
by Christine Battjes

Praise for The Good Life

Reviewers of the new curriculum have offered these praises and comments:

"The activities relate well to everyday life. The intergenerational approach is exciting. This allows for a lot of additional learning and promotes family interaction." -- Pastor Elwood Rieke, LaCrescent, MN

"The activities are very do-able and require minimal expense. The program is flexible enough to be used in any congregation." -- Kathleen Connolly, Orlando, FL

"Interesting and fun. A bargain!" -- Dick Webster, Worthington, OH

"A good variety of activities for all age groups. Portions of the resource serve as ideas for Sunday morning children's sermons, openings for meetings, etc." Pastor Greg Hanneman, Sioux City, IA

"The activities break out of the 'cookie cutter' style that seems to be so prominant in the glossy, prepackaged VBS material sold at a high price these days.

"It would be informational and spiritual for the many adults who are unchurched or inexperienced in the church life and its lessons.

"Basic concepts are strong and not often taught. Connecting scripture to real life living is excellent. Would be very useful in adult study groups and chancel drama to add a new twist to a Sunday service. I plan to use several of the ideas in settings other than VBS. Middle of the week actvities, a series of youth group meetings, a short term Sunday study group, rotation curriculum church school with activity centers.

"I like the concept of nurturing people to be change agents in our world. Liked your phrasing of 'a new generation of disciples will rediscover the wisdom of living simply.' The active learning hands-on sections are great." -- Linda Cron, Mayflower UCC, Sioux City, IA

"I especially appreciate the scriptures made real and visual. We must get folks to make the application of scripture and their commitment to the Faith more real in the world.

"Wonderful, creative material. The themes are where we need to be. I'm very impressed with the variety of activities and help in making this come alive. I am anxious to tell VBS leaders. It will be none too soon." -- Mel Luetchens, United Methodist Committee on Relief [UMCOR]

[GRAPHIC: Alternatives' Logo]

Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org



The Good Life curriculum

Music Leader's Accompaniment Edition

[GRAPHICS: BuildingTheL, NaturalI, PeaceF, 2PersonE]

The Good Life
5 lessons to nurture simplicity and goodness
in Christian community
(based on the five life standards of Living More with Less) by Christine Battjes


Music Leader's Accompaniment Edition

Publisher Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Alternatives for Simple Living
The Good Life: Music Leader's
Accompaniment Edition
26 x 30 cm. ?? pages
ISBN 0-914966-30-8

1. Alternatives for Simple Living. The Good Life.
2. Simplicity - Non-Fiction

I. Alternatives for Simple Living. II. Title

Printed in Iowa, USA

(c)2005 Alternatives for Simple Living. No part of this book or the accompanying CD may be reproduced, in any form by any means, without permission from the copyright holder of the music (text and/or tune).

Alternatives for Simple Living

Art: Don Battjes

This project is funded in part by a grant from: Thrivent Financial Services, Woodbury County Chapter

Recycled paper

[GRAPHIC: Recycle logo]


Christ Is Changing Everything: Habel & Koehneke
The Church Within Us (There's a Church Within Us): Kent Schneider
For the Healing of the Nations: Kaan & Smart
Glory to God: Jim Strathdee
God's Rainbow: Donald Schmidt
The Great Parade: Avery & Marsh
Hallelujah, a song from Palestine
Jesus Talked to Children: Farquharson & Klusmeier
O Great Earth: Linnea Good
One More Step: Sydney Carter
A Place in the Choir (All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir): traditional
Rain On, Little Rain: Marji Hazen
The Sharing Song: Raffi
Sing of a Blessing: Miriam Therese Winter
Take Off Your Shoes: Jim Manley
Teach Me Kingdom Ways: Nancy Miner
Turn the World Upside Down: Linnea Good
Unity: Jerry Derstine (JD Martin)
We Are Marching, a song from South Africa
What Does the Lord Require?: Jim Strathdee
Wheel of Friendship: Cynthia Wright
When I Needed a Neighbor: Sydney Carter

Listening Music (CD only; words in curriculum)
Lesson 1: Where Will My People Lay Their Heads?: John Pitney
Lesson 2: It Is Very Good: John Pitney
Lesson 3: We Are One: Joyce Rouse
Lesson 4: Love Large: Joyce Rouse
Lesson 5: Earth Pledge: Joyce Rouse


Ideas: How to Use the Music Resources of "The Good Life" curriculum

Leaders, if you plan to use the participant's music booklet as a take-home piece, give the participants permission to put their names on their music booklets, to color the art in them and to take them home. They can teach the songs to their families and tell about what each picture means, i.e., what each "living more with less" standard represents. You're welcome to copy art from the curriculum guide or CD-ROM if you want more for the participants to color.

If you plan to keep the music booklets from year-to-year or event-to-event, let the participants know that they're welcome to enjoy the songs at church but not to put their name on it, nor color in it, nor take it home.

The songs are of varying difficulty. Some pieces will be easy for all to sing. Some are much more difficult -- both the song and the accompaniment. So, you may choose to accompany some songs yourself, others you may want to use the CD.

Here are some tips to teach the songs.

1. If the participants are young and do not read music, sing the song for them first. Then teach it phrase by phrase.

2. Movement helps us remember words and makes singing more fun. Use the actions included with some songs. Make up your own for the others. Urge the participants to make up actions and share their ideas. Share your experiences with us.

3. Use the accompanying CD as needed. Some of the songs are sung by the original artists, most are sung by a music teacher in a simple, straight forward manner. This is primarily an educational CD, not a commercial CD. Loan your CD or buy more copies for families who are especially interested.

4. Accompany the participants with keyboard, guitar or other instruments.

5. vEvery participant who can read should have a Participant's booklet. Music literacy is an integral part of church music.

6. Note that songs sung by Angela are in split channels, so you can have more (or all) voice or more accompaniment by turning up or down the channel of your choice.

7. Refer to the Introduction in the curriculum to see how the music is designed to fit into the whole curriculum.

You are welcome to copy parts of the curriculum for the other leaders and teachers at your event. You may not, however, copy any of the music -- sheet music or CD -- except the lyrics of the Listening Songs. Alternatives owns the curriculum so we can give you permission. We own the rights to none of the music, so you can buy music books from us or contact the copyright holder if you want to make copies of the music they own. We have secured permission to use all of the music in this book and on the CD, for which we are most grateful.

You are welcome to make musical suggestions for future editions of "The Good Life." Please send us the music with the complete copyright information and the source. While a song title is helpful, the complete info is really helpful.

Music selected by Christine Battjes
Booklet Editor: Gerald Iversen
Sheet Music Transcriptions: Peter Iversen, Round House Productions, Sioux City, IA

Special Thanks to those who donated the use of their songs: Norman Habel, Donald Schmidt, Walter Farquharson and Ron Klusmeier, Linnea Good, Marji Hazen, Raffi, Sr. Miriam Therese Winter, Nancy Miner Guenther, and Jerry Derstine (JD Martin).


The Good Life: Music CD
5 lessons to nurture simplicity
and goodness in Christian community
(based on the 5 life standards of Living More with Less)
by Christine Battjes

Welcome! This CD is designed to be used with "The Good Life" curriculum. Music is a vital part of The Good Life.

Some of the songs are primarily for listening, others are for singing-along. By turning one channel up and the other down, the songs sung by Angela (noted *) can be heard in singing or accompaniment mode.

You may play this CD personally or with a group. You may not copy any of it.

Pause the CD player as needed. This CD will also play in most computers that have a disc drive and appropriate software.

"The Good Life" curriculum is available on paper and CD-ROM.

See the Leader's Edition for the words and full accompaniment; see the Participant's Edition for the words and melody. See p. 3 for copyright credits.

Please complete and return the survey "Tell Us What You Think" found in the curriculum.


Sing-along Songs
(alphabetical order)
1. Christ Is Changing Everything* x:xx
2. The Church Within Us (There's a Church Within Us) *
3. For the Healing of the Nations*
4. Glory to God* (Jim Strathdee)
5. God's Rainbow*
6. The Great Parade*
7. Hallelujah*
8. Jesus Talked to Children*
9. O Great Earth - Linnea Good
10. One More Step*
11. A Place in the Choir
(All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir)*
12. Rain on, Little Rain*
13. The Sharing Song*
14. Sing of a Blessing*
15. Take Off Your Shoes - Jim Manley
16. Teach Me Kingdom Ways*
17. Turn the World Upside Down - Linnea Good
18. Unity - Jerry Derstine (JD Martin)
19. We Are Marching*
20. What Does the Lord Require? - Jim Strathdee
21. Wheel of Friendship*
22. When I Needed a Neighbor*

Listening Songs
23. Lesson 1: Where Will My People Lay Their Heads? - John Pitney
24. Lesson 2: It Is Very Good - John Pitney
25. Lesson 3: We Are One - Joyce Rouse
26. Lesson 4: Love Large - Joyce Rouse
27. Lesson 5: Earth Pledge - Joyce Rouse

* All noted recordings by Angela Iversen

TOTAL - ??:??


Sing-along Songs

Christ Is Changing Everything
Words: (c)Norman Habel
Music: (c)Richard Koehneke
Used by permission.

The Church Within Us
Words & music: Kent Schneider (c)1967 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. ASCAP

For the Healing of the Nations
Words: Fred Kaan
Music: REGENT SQUARE by Henry Smart (Public Domain)
Words (c)1968 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. ASCAP

Glory to God
Words & music: Jim Strathdee (c)Desert Flower Music. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Contact Desert Flower Music for information about additional music, recordings and tours, 916-481-2999; www.StrathdeeMusic.com

God's Rainbow
Words & music (c)Donald Schmidt. Used by permission. For information about additional music and recordings, fax 808-661-1734;kahu.donald@verizon.net

The Great Parade
Words & music: Richard Avery and Donald Marsh (c)1971 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. ASCAP

Hallelujah, a song from Palestine. Public Domain
(From "The Good Times Songbook," James Leisy, ed. Abingdon Press, 1974)

Jesus Talked to Children
Words (c)Walter Farquharson. Used by permission. For information about additional music and recordings, fax 306-744-2612.
Music (c)Ron Klusmeier. Used by permission. For information about additional music and recordings, fax 250-954-1683.

O Great Earth
Words & music: Linnea Good
(c) 1995 Borealis Music, www.LinneaGood.com (From "The Good Book") Used by permission. For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact Borealis Music (250) 494-8238 or (250) 494-5139 (fax); admin@LinneaGood.com

One More Step
Words & music: Sydney Carter (c)1971 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188). ASCAP

A Place in the Choir (All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir), traditional
Public Domain

Rain On, Little Rain
Words & music: Marji Hazen
(c)1969 by Herald Press, and Faith and Life Press.
Used by permission.

The Sharing Song
Music: Raffi
Words: Raffi, D. Pike, B.B. Simpson (c)1976 Homeland Publishing, a division of Troubadour Records, Ltd. Send any questions about Raffi to: Troubadour Music Inc., S3, C40, 610 Fernhill Road, Mayne Island, BC
V0N 2J0 (250) 539-3588
Fax: (250) 539-3589

Sing of a Blessing
Words & music: Miriam Therese Winter (c)1982, 1987. Medical Mission Sisters. ASCAP. Used by permission. For information about additional music and recordings, contact MMS@HartSem.edu

Take Off Your Shoes
Words & music: (c)Jim Manley
Used by permission. For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact Jim Manley (408) 747-0667 www.ManleyMusic.com

Teach Me Kingdom Ways
Words & music (c)Nancy Miner. Used by permission.
(847) 675-3632

Turn the World Upside Down
Words & music: Linnea Good
(c)1989 Borealis Music, www.LinneaGood.com (From "The Good Book") Used by permission. For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact Borealis Music (250) 494-8238 or (250) 494-5139 (fax);admin@LinneaGood.com

Words & music: (c)1971, 2003 Jerry Derstine (JD Martin). Used by permission. For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact (970) 927-4428 www.JDMartin.ws

We Are Marching, a song from South Africa
(c)1984 by Utryck/Walton Music Corp. (admin. by Hal Leonard Corp. Milwaukee, WI 53213. fax: (414) 774-3259
hlcopyright@halleonard.com) All rights reserved. Used by permission.

What Does the Lord Require?
Words & music: Jim Strathdee (c) Desert Flower Music. All rights reserved. Used by permission. For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact Desert Flower Music www.StrathdeeMusic.com (916) 481-2999

Wheel of Friendship
(from Tickle Tunes)
Music: Cynthia Wright
Words & music (c)1987 by Chorister's Guild, Garland TX 75041. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

When I Needed a Neighbor
Words & music: Sydney Carter (c)1965 by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188). ASCAP

Listening Songs
Also see curriculum, p. 14.

1. Where Will My People Lay Their Heads?
2. It Is Very Good
Words & music: John Pitney
(c) John Pitney
For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact John Pitney: compost@cmc.net

3. We Are One
4. Love Large
5. Earth Pledge
Words & music: Joyce Rouse
(c) Rouse House Music
For information about additional music, recordings and tours, contact Joyce Rouse: www.earthmama.com

About the artist

Angela Iversen, a 2004 graduate of Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, IA, serves as an elementary school music teacher.

Angela Iversen recorded by and CD produced by Peter Iversen, Round House Productions, Sioux City, IA

The Good Life: Music CD
5 lessons to nurture simplicity
and goodness in Christian community


Alternatives for Simple Living SimpleLivingWorks.org

recycled paper


The Good Life: CD-ROM
5 lessons to nurture simplicity
and goodness in Christian community
(based on the 5 life standards of Living More with Less)
by Christine Battjes

Welcome! The CD-ROM contains "The Good Life" curriculum, but NO Sing-along Songs -- sheet music or audio tracks. The words for the Listening Songs are on page 24.

Performances of the listening and sing-along songs are on "The Good Life" Music CD.

The CD-ROM contains the entire curriculum (except sing-along songs) in TWO formats: 1) DPFs, and 2) text and independent graphics. You as the original purchaser may use this CD-ROM to read or print parts or all of the curriculum (including the lyrics of the Listening Songs) and the promotion kit for yourself and for teachers and organizers at your event. You are not allowed to make copies for other churches/events, nor are you allowed to sell any part of it to anyone.

The CD-ROM version is more flexible than the version on paper. Let your imagination go crazy! You may have great ideas to incorporate into the curriculum. You may want to tweak one presentation a bit. All we ask is that you SHARE YOUR IDEAS WITH US, so that we can consider them for a future edition of The Good Life.

So, if you want to make copies of the curriculum as it is, then print from the PDF version, which includes the graphics and cannot be edited. Be sure to use recycled paper and both sides of each sheet. Using virgin paper and only one side is contrary to the spirit of the curriculum.

But if you want to PLAY, then read the curriculum in the text file. Copy the text and graphics to your publishing software, edit, and save in your computer. Move the graphics around, make them bigger or smaller. You cannot save to this CD-ROM.

For the Sing-along Songs, see the Leader's Music Accompaniment Edition for the words and full accompaniment; see the Participant's Edition for the words and melody. See the Music CD insert for copyright information.

Please complete and return the survey "Tell Us What You Think" (page 55).

Curriculum COMPONENTS: Curriculum (on paper or CD-ROM), Leader's Music Edition; Participant's Music Edition; Music CD. See p. 57 for ordering information. Visit SimpleLivingWorks.org > Archives for hundreds of free resources.

The Good Life, v.1.0
5 lessons to nurture simplicity and goodness in Christian community
(based on the five life standards of "Living More with Less")
by Christine Battjes

Publisher Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Alternatives for Simple Living
The Good Life
26 x 30 cm. 58 pages
ISBN 0-914966-29-4

1. Alternatives for Simple Living. The Good Life.
2. Simplicity - Non-Fiction - Religious Education

I. Alternatives for Simple Living. II. Title

Library of Congress Control Number

Printed in Iowa, USA

(c)2005 Alternatives for Simple Living. All rights reserved. Parts of this curriculum may be reproduced - but not sold - (without permission from the publisher) to share with others.

No part of the accompanying music books or music CD may be reproduced, in any form by any means, without permission from the copyright holder of the music (text and/or tune).

Alternatives for Simple Living

Art: Don Battjes
[GRAPHIC: recycle logo] Recycled paper

Funded in part by a grant from: Thrivent Financial Services, Woodbury County Chapter

ALTERNATIVES for Simple Living, 1973-2011
Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator, 1995-2007
Founder, 2011, Simple Living Works!

"Equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly"


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