May 31, 2020
Dear Sunday School Families,
Tomorrow (Sunday, May 31) is Pentecost – the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles – and is also our official closing date for Sunday School. To mark the occasion Der Hayr will give a children’s sermon at 11:40 with a Livestream graduation ceremony for our graduation seniors immediately following Divine Liturgy. Finally, we will have a drive-by parade for our graduates in front of the church from 1:00-1:30. Please do take just a bit of time to honor these dear children who are missing out on the normal pomp and circumstance of the occasion.
At-Home Learning 5/31
The past two lessons in our series have been about loving others. Pentecost is a great occasion to culminate this topic because scripture teaches us that it is through the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to truly love others. It is pretty challenging “love our neighbors as ourselves” or “love our enemies” without some help from above. But, with Christ (and through his spirit) all things are possible (Phil 4:13).
Nursery & Kindergarten: The lesson is simply this: “God wants us to be joyful and to show love, kindness, goodness and gentleness to other people. God is happy when we are kind and good to others.” Talk about what is going on in the coloring page (more than just goodness, I see kindness and love also.) Revisit the memory verse from last time, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 12:23).
: Watch this video
that explains why the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. Summarize for your children that the Holy Spirit helped the Apostles to share the story of Jesus Christ with people all over the world by allowing the apostles speak in many different languages, even languages they didn’t know before! Still today, the Holy Spirit helps everyone who believes in Jesus. This video
explains the Fruit of the Spirit (the good things that happen in us when the Holy Spirit is at work). Use the attached coloring page to reinforce the good things that God can do in our lives when we believe, pray and ask (to personalize the page, have your child write his or her name on the tree trunk). Pray with your kids this week for the fruit that they want to see more, for example, “Dear God, please help me to be more patient with my sister.”
: Read the story of Pentecost from the Holy Bible (Acts 2:1-21) and watch this video
to help bring the story to life. Discuss the question: Why would the Holy Spirit give the believers the ability to speak in other languages? (The answer is so that they could share the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world.) What does the Holy Spirit do in our lives today? Watch this video
to learn about the Fruit of the Spirit. Read and memorize Galatians 5:22-23.
Use the “secret code” worksheet to reinforce the lesson. Ask your children which fruit they would like to see more of in their lives.
: Read the story of Pentecost from the Holy Bible (Acts 2:1-21). Ponder the question: Why would the Holy Spirit give the believers the ability to speak in other languages? Hint: it was so that the Apostles could share the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the world. It would have been a lot harder for the Apostles to successfully spread the gospel throughout the world without help from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helped the Apostles to do their job. How does the Holy Spirit help us to do our job today? Our job as Christians is to love God and love others, which can be a challenge. The Holy Spirit equips us for this challenge by granting us certain virtues (known as the “Fruit of the Spirit”). Watch this video
to learn about the Fruit of the Spirit. Read and memorize Galatians 5:22-23.
Use the printout to reinforce the beauty of this verse. Consider this: which fruit(s) would you like to see more of in your life?
May 17, 2020
Dear Sunday School Families,
My reflection for the week is: Is it over yet? That’s it.
Ok, fine. Also, I’ve been thinking about how long this time of social distancing feels and how in scripture the number 40 signifies “a long time” (Noah in the ark for 40 days, Israelites in the desert for 40 years, Jesus tempted in the wilderness for 40 days). Scripture provides many examples of people going through extended periods of suffering, distress, discomfort. Some relied on God to provide for them during their long times of hardship and others, like the Israelites who grumbled in the desert, did not. King David also experienced several periods of prolonged distress. This is why his 23rd Psalm is so touching. Parents, take a minute to reflect on Psalm 23
this week: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…”
At Home Learning for 5/17
We continue with our theme of loving others. Please also see last week’s lessons in case you missed them.
Nursery: Over the past several weeks of lessons, going back to the beginning of social distancing, we’ve centered around the idea that God loves us, cares for us and provides for us. I hope that your children know this truly and deeply. Last week we began to pivot on the idea that we love because he first loved us. This week I’d like you to focus on the verse, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 12:23). Let’s make the connection back to God’s love with the coloring sheet about Jesus healing this blind man (this was the topic of the very first video I sent you way back when) and then use the other coloring sheet to practice reciting John 12:23. Most importantly, put the verse into practice by helping your child do something kind for someone in the family this week.
: Last week the kids learned about selfishness. This week the kids will learn about forgiveness, which is an important aspect of loving others. Watch this great episode of VeggieTales about forgiveness
. Memorize the verse “Forgive others as the Lord forgave you” (1 Cor 3:13). Use the Forgiveness coloring sheet to reinforce the lesson and talk to your child about a time when he or she forgave someone for something – what did it feel like?
: I hope the kids enjoyed the story of the Good Samaritan last week. This week, the lesson takes a closer look at the definition of love. Have your children read 1 Corinthians 13 (the whole chapter) and watch this explanatory video
. Reinforce the lesson with the printable “Word Sheet.” Put faith into action this week by positively calling out family members when you catch them acting out one of the characteristics of love that St. Paul describes (for example, “You were being incredibly patient
with your brother, great job!”). Keep a love chart to track which attributes your family showed the most (I made one for our family as an example; we’ll use hash marks to keep track).
: Students, grab a blank sheet of paper and write down what you think the definition of love is. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and watch this explanatory video
. Consider how St. Paul’s description of love in this chapter is the same as or different from your definition of love. Use the attached “Love Is” worksheet to help you reflect on what qualities of love you do a good job of expressing and which qualities you’d like to express better to your friends and family (for me, it’s patience with my kids!); make some notes on this worksheet and make it a point to pray to God to give your heart more of what it lacks. Print the attached summary chart as a helpful reminder for your and your family about how the Bible describes love.
May 10, 2020
The next few weeks we will focus on loving others (which our moms teach us to do so well!).
: The goal of this lesson is to provide the foundational understanding: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This video
explains that Jesus is like our shepherd; shepherds take care of their sheep just like God takes care of us. (Sorry, the video is a little hokey). Color the good shepherd coloring sheet and memorize this phrase “Shepherds take care of their sheep and Jesus takes care of me.” There is also a bonus Mother’s Day coloring sheet to make a gift for mom as a way to show her your love!
: Watch “King George and His Ducky”
(Veggietales), which tells the story of David and Bathsheba in a VERY age-appropriate way. The lesson teaches us about being selfish. I don’t know about you, but being cramped in close quarters is bringing out some selfishness in our family! After watching the video, talk with your kids about how King George acted selfishly and what King George learned from his experience. Memorize the verse from Romans 12:10: “Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself.”
Brainstorm with your child some ways to be extra kind to others this week.
: Read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) then watch this video that explains the parable
. Complete the summary page to reinforce learning and the optional crossword puzzle. The kids know very well the two greatest commandments: Love God and love neighbor. The parable of the Good Samaritan gets more specific about who is our neighbor, indicating that God asks us to love and show mercy to even those we dislike. Ask your kids to think about a time when they showed mercy (were kind to) someone they did not get along well with. Memorize Luke 6:36: “Be merciful just as your heavenly Father is merciful.”
Grade 8-12: See above. Also, watch Der Antranig’s Prelacy Reflection on the topic of light in the darkness. Discuss: 1) How has this period of time affected your life in a positive way? 2) How will this experience change you? 3) How can you be a light in the darkness during COVID-19? Put faith into action: do one thing to encourage someone who is serving others during this crisis.
Dear Sunday School Families,
We hope you enjoyed Der Hayr’s children sermon today. If you missed it, you can see the archive of today’s Badarak on the church Facebook page and the sermon starts approx. 1:15 minutes in. The sermon was about prayer, which was also the topic of last week’s at-home lessons.
This was an intentional lead-in to the project we are kicking off called “Prayers for the Frontline.” I developed this project with the intention of not only sharing our thanks but also our prayers with healthcare professionals and others addressing COVID-19.
1. Print and cut out the attached prayer form
2. Have students make a thank you card that also includes their own prayer (see example photos; you can make your card as simple or as detailed as you wish…pictures are great for younger kids)
3. Address the card to someone you know or keep it generic
4. Mail the card
- If you know a frontline healthcare worker, please send this card to him or her directly.
- If you do not know a frontline healthcare worker, reach out to me! I have a list of names from our parish and, as Der Hayr announced there is a COVID crisis at the Armenian Nursing Home, so I’d like to direct some cards there as well (I can provide more details).
- If you don’t want to fold your card into a standard sized envelope and need a larger envelope, let me know and I am happy to stick one in the mail for you!
5. Before mailing, please text me a picture of your card to 617-470-8435. I’d love to have a photo compilation of all the amazing cards we send.
6. There is no deadline for this but I recommend aiming to have your cards out by May 15.
Let me know if you have any questions. It would awesome to have a high rate of participation in this project as a way to help bless others.
April 19, 2020
Dear Sunday School Families,
We hope you’re all doing well and that you had a joyful Easter. Krisdos haryav ee merelots! Ohrnyal eh harootiunun krisdosee.
Weekly Church Services
It was a surreal Holy Week and Easter, but it was lovely to see so many familiar names watching along with services on Facebook. Thank you, especially, for making time to watch Badarak with your kids – it’s awesome to expose children to our Divine Liturgy as much as possible so that they become familiar with it. I know that attending church with young kids can be hard, so this is a fantastic opportunity to engage with Badarak in the comfort of your own homes.
We will continue to have weekly Badarak at 10:30 each Sunday. Badarak is being truncated for health and safety reasons and is generally moving quickly so I recommend folks be online at 10:30. For parents and older students I am doing a live commentary throughout the service to help explain what is going on. Please continue to join in as a way to connect spiritually with God and connect with one another each Sunday.
“Back to Church” on April 26
Next Sunday, April 26, is the fourth Sunday of the month and that is Children’s Sermon Sunday! Der Hayr will do a virtual children’s sermon during Badarak and we ask our Sunday School families to please make a special effort to watch.
After the children’s sermon, please head over to St. Stephen’s church for 1:00 for a special drive-by blessing from Der Hayr. It will be good for all of us to connect with our church and with our pastor (from our cars at an appropriate social distance). Seeing our church, being in the area, seeing our pastor is a nice physical reminder for the students of the community that we are part of. Der Hayr will bless you with the cross as you pass by; we will not be handing anything out.
Note: please drive up Bigelow Ave (not Elton Ave.), take a right onto Artsakh Street to pass DH on the church steps and then continue on by taking a left onto Elton.
The BOT and Sunday School staff are thinking of and will be rolling out other ways to make sure our parish stays connected. For example, Ms. Angie’s Grade 4-5 class is invited to a Zoom meeting tomorrow at 2:00 pm (see separate email from Ms. Angie). For now, you can find an archive of services and some great resources on the church and prelacy websites and Facebook pages.
At-Home Learning 4/19
This week’s lessons will focus on PRAYER.
Nursery: Learn that thankfulness is an important part of prayer in three steps…
- Remember God’s love and provision: I think the one of the best songs for reminding kids that God loves us and cares for us is “Jesus Loves Me.” Sing “Jesus Loves Me” together this week. (You can find the song on Spotify. We like the Listener Kids surf remix version.) Tell your child that Jesus is God and God loves us very much. God made us, he made the world around us, he made our family and friends.God helps us when we need help and gives us all the things we need.
- Talk about what you’re thankful for: Since prayer starts with thanksgiving, use the attached thanks coloring sheet to focus on thankfulness for all of God’s blessings.
- Learn this simple thank you rhyme, which is a prayer of thanks to God: “Thank you for the world so sweet. Thank you for the food we eat. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything.”
Grade K-3: Learn about how to talk to God and how to pray on behalf of others (which we call intercession).
- Start with this short video about how to pray.
- Use the attached prayer prompts to help your children find the words to talk to God. It is simple but lays a good foundation for prayer.
- Use the attached worksheet to learn about the 5-finger prayer method to pray for others.
- Have your child trace her own hand and write down who she is praying for by each finger, according to the worksheet.
Grade 4-7: Learn that prayer is not just asking God for things. Use the attached two-page worksheet to learn the 4 main “A.C.T.S.” of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Supplication and Thanksgiving. The worksheet will help your child understand the scriptural basis and rationale for each aspect of prayer, provide examples of each type of prayer, and let your child develop his own prayer as well.
1. Discuss: a) Why did Der Hayr and his family turn to prayer when things looked really bleak for baby Dalita? b) Think about a time when things seemed hopeless in our family. How did God help us through?
2. Read aloud Philippians 4:6-7 from the Holy Bible
3. Use the attached prayer journal page to write down some prayer requests and observations for the week. Check in after a week to see how the praying went.
: The Prelacy is publishing a 5-part video series entitled “Exploring the Tools of Prayer” taught by Deacon Shant Kazanjian. The focus of the series is empowering us to prayer on our own as we are in isolation due to COVID-19. You can find the videos on the Prelacy Youtube site; here is the link to the first video
April 10, 2020
Dear Sunday School Families,
We are deep in the heart of Holy Week, the most solemn and somber week in the Armenian church calendar. Through our church services, we reenact and experience the sadness and suffering of Jesus’s final days on earth. I hope that in some way, large or small, you will set aside some time with your family to make Holy Week special.
Holy Week Resource
Attached is a great resource published by Diocese that offers rich information about Holy Week commemorations and services. Parents, you can use this to re-familiarize yourselves and teach your kids in an age-appropriate way about Holy Week.
The Easter Story for Children
We know that this somber week will end with the holiest and most joyful day of our church year: Easter, on which we celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Whether it’s living through the somber days of Holy Week or the longer-term reality of COVID-19, remember, as David wrote in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” May you all find great joy in the victory of Christ’s resurrection, remembering that through it we have abundant life.
Here are some tips for sharing the Easter story as a family in order to reinforce the special meaning of the day:
1. Read the story together from the Bible (Beginners Bible, Children’s Bible or normal Bible)
- On Easter Eve (Saturday) the Gospel reading is from Matthew 28:1-20
- On Easter Sunday the Gospel reading is from Mark 16:2-8.
2. Below are a couple of nice videos you can watch together that bring the Easter story to life:
Holy Week and Easter Church Services
Please see the church Facebook or Instagram feeds for our abbreviated schedule of Holy Week services. Please note that Sunday Badarak will begin at 10:30 and will move quicker than usual, so don’t sign on too late (plus,the best part is the beginning)!!!
Once again, I’ll be offering commentary on the services as they stream live, hopefully enhancing your understanding of what is taking place.
Hey, my family will be eating some choreg and sugary cereal on Saturday morning, thinking about you all and missing seeing you at Communion breakfast. After Holy Week and Easter are through, teachers will look for some opportunities to connect with the kids virtually and we will also continue with virtual children’s’ sermon on the 4th Sunday of the month.
Krisdos haryav ee merelots. Orhnyal harootiunun krisdosee.
April 4, 2020
A Message from Sunday School Principal, Nayiri Bell:
Dear Sunday School Families,
Above all, for this Sunday, I hope you and your family will find time to tune into the Facebook livestream of Badarak beginning at 10:00 am. Der Antranig will give a lesson on the special “Opening of the Portals” service that we perform on Palm Sunday. This is a penitential rite symbolizing our standing in judgment at the doors of heaven and asking to be let in. Spoiler alert: the curtains open for us just as the doors of Heaven will, because Christ promised to mercifully judge all those who believe and follow him.
The service booklet for the Trnpatsek or Opening of the Portals service is attached.
Additional activities for each grade level are included below. It is my prayer that these mini lessons offer your family a way to stay connected to God during the week without overwhelming you (seriously, if I have to teach one more math lesson to my children…!!!).
At-Home Lessons 4/5/2020
Nursery: Talk to your children about a time when they were excited to see someone (maybe now they are looking forward to seeing family and friends that they haven’t seen in a while). Explain that Jesus was God’s son and the people were so excited to see him one day that they took branches from the trees and waved the branches in excitement. Use the attached coloring page to learn more. Find a small (leafy?) branch outside and see what it feels like to wave it around. As you wave the branch recite Matthew 21:9: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Grades K-3: Have the children read the Palm Sunday story in their children’s bible (Matthew 21:1-9) and watch this 3-minute video about Palm Sunday (the animation is a little quirky but the lesson is true to the scripture). Learn the word “Hosanna” (which means God saves and which is what the people were shouting to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem); practice the Armenian, which is “Getsoh Der.” Welcome Jesus with your palms by coloring the attached Palm-Hosanna coloring sheet and displaying it in your home.
Grades 4-7: Have your child read the Palm Sunday story from their adult Bible (Matthew 21:1-9). Complete the attached word search and decipher the hidden message (shhh…it’s “Hosanna to the son of David”). Memorize Matthew 21:9: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven.” If you’re brave, practice the Armenian, “Ovsanna ee partsoons. Ohrnyal vor kalotsut es anvamp Diarun.”
Grades 8-12: Please read as a family and discuss Der Antranig’s reflection on Palm Sunday, entitled “Christ vs. the Coronavirus,” which was published in the Armenian Weekly this week. Here are some ideas for discussion questions:
1) What are your key take-aways from this article?
2) What are some of the examples of Jesus showing compassion that Der Hayr writes about? How does Jesus’ compassion make you feel?
3) What can Jesus’s attitude about riding into Bethany or facing death on the cross teach us about being brave?
Gr 4-7 Palm Sunday Word Search
Gr K-3 Palm-Hosanna
Nursery Palm Sunday Coloring Page
1-PalmSunday-Opening of Portal
A Message from Sunday School Principal, Nayiri Bell:
Well, I don’t know about you, but the honeymoon was over for me this week. I found week 2 of staying home challenging and sad at times. It was especially hard for me that each day felt like the one before – a marathon of managing work and kids and home without respite. Then, out of the blue, on Friday morning I looked out the kitchen window to see my three kids walking across the back yard holding hands, with Dalita in the middle of the two boys. It was a jolt of joy in an otherwise (emotionally) dreary morning. It reminded me of the passage in Lamentations 3:22-23 that says “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” God’s mercies are new every morning (even every morning feels like the movie Groundhog Day)!
At Home Lessons 3/29
Thanks for the kind feedback about the at-home lessons I’ve been sending. It’s encouraging to know that the kids are continuing their religious education at home. You can find an archive of lessons on the St. Stephen’s website. Below are the lessons for this week.
Nursery: How is it going reciting and singing the Hayr Mer at home with your children? I encourage you to keep up that practice. This week, watch this short video on how God created the world. Go outside and explore all the things in nature that God created. Have your child draw a picture of themselves and entitle it, “God Created Me!”.
Grades K-3: Veggie Tales continues to be a hit and so I’m excited to share one of my all-time favorites, Madame Blueberry. This episode is about the topic of greed, or wanting too much stuff!
A. After the episode is over, use the following discussion questions:
1. Why did Madame Blueberry want to have so much stuff in the first place?
2. Was she really happy when she had all those things?
3. Thinking about Madame Blueberry, what happens to our hearts when we get greedy?
4. What other types of things can make us feel happy (for example, relationships, helping others)?
B. Memorize the verse: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be” (Matt 6:21)
C. If it works for your household, consider using this lesson as a springboard to a spring-cleaning project and find some “stuff” to donate to your favorite charity.
Grade 4-7: Yesterday was the feast of St. Gregory the Illuminator, who is the patron saint of the Armenian Church.
A. Read about St. Gregory briefly online and read through the attached play to learn about and discuss how God used Gregory to help Armenian to become the first Christian nation.
B. Talk about St. Gregory’s experience in the pit (khor virab, which may subtly feel applicable to social distancing) using the following question prompts: How do you think St. Gregory felt being alone in that pit for all those years and what do you think Gregory prayed to God about during that time? How did Princess Khosrovitookht help Greogry during his darkest times and how can we help others who feel alone today?
C. Memorize the verse from Psalm 118:6: “God is with me I will not be afraid.”
Grade 8-12: Watch Der Antranig’s reflection about COVID-19 together.
Have a discussion using the following prompts:
1. How are you feeling about COVID-19 and social distancing?
2. What did Der Hayr do to try to break out of the routine of being stuck at home? What are some things that we are doing or could be doing as a family to thrive during this time?
3. How does St. Paul’s instruction to the Romans (Rom 5:3-5) about trouble, patience, character and hope apply to us today?
Write down St. Paul’s recipe (copying what Der Hayr shared in his video) and hang it in your home as a reminder that challenging times produce character and hope in each of us.
Good morning! Below is a message from Sunday School Principal Nayiri Bell:
I hope your kids enjoyed last week’s lessons; I tried to make them simple yet meaningful. If you haven’t done last week’s lessons yet, please do. Also, I’d love to receive your notes and feedback on how lessons are going and how your kids are doing.
Nursery: Continuing with the theme of Jesus helped people, watch the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. Remember the verse “Jesus went around doing good” (Acts 10:38) and talk about the idea that we can trust God to take care of us. Also, this week, make it a point to say or sing the Hayr Mer together (here is a beautiful version of the Hayr Mer that you can play).
Grades K-3: See above. Also, since Veggie Tales was a big hit in my house last Sunday, we’ll stick with that again. Last week we learned from watching the the story of Daniel that God is with us so we do not have to fear. This week we will learn from the story of Joshua about doing things God’s way. After you watch, memorize the verse: “As for God, his ways are perfect” (2 Samuel 22:31a)
Grades 4-7: See above. Also, read the attached messages from Aram Vehapar and watch Vehapar’s pontifical prayer on YouTube. Discuss his perspective on this situation and his motivation for sending the message. Have your children memorize the two scripture verses cited in Vehapar’s message (Mark 11:24 and Psalm 71:5-12).
Grades 8-12: Please complete the 4-7 lesson above. Also, reminder: We are sponsoring an art/poetry/essay contest reflecting on Psalm 46, which includes the verse, “God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble.” Submissions are due this Friday March 28. First place will receive a $50 gift card and second place will receive a $25 gift card. All work must be original and entries will be judged by grade 8-12 teachers.
Dear Sunday School Families,
In case you missed it in my last email, here are the lesson plans you can use with your children this week on the topic of fear and faith (I do not recommend telling your children that these lessons are related to COVID-19, just serve them up as a normal topical lesson for the week). Older students, don’t miss the art/essay/poetry contest below!
Nursery – The theme for the unit that just wrapped up has been Jesus helps people and the students learned the story of Jesus helping a man who was born blind and couldn’t see (Mark 8:22-25). Re-read that story from a children’s bible and/or watch it and ask the students to recall their memory verse: “Jesus went around doing good” (Acts 10:38). The message you can share with your children is: Jesus helped people then and he still helps us now if we pray to him when we are scared or frightened or sick. You can pray a simple prayer asking Jesus to help and protect you or pray the traditional “Bahaban” prayer if you know it (attached).
Grades K through 3 – See above. Also, consider letting your kids view this 30-minute Veggie Tales video that tells the story of Daniel and the Lions Den to address the question of fear. You can follow up (or lead in) by reading the story of Daniel and the lions in Daniel 6 in their Children’s Bible. The kids can memorize the verse “God is with me. I will not be afraid.” (Psalm 118:6)
Grades 4-7 – See above. Also, have students take a couple of days to read the story of Esther in their Bibles (Book of Esther). Esther demonstrated extreme bravery in the face of uncertainty and encouraged the Israelite people to fast and pray to God for his help. Read the story yourself and then talk with your child about Esther’s bravery – why was she so bold, what did she learn in the process, what did she accomplish, why did God choose her for that important situation? Also, I’d like the kids to use this time off to fully memorize the Bahaban in Armenian if they haven’t already.
Grades 8-12 – See above. Also, we are going to sponsor an art/poetry/essay contest and we are looking for submissions that reflect on Psalm 46, which starts with the verse, “God is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble.” Submissions are due by March 28 and the winning submission will win a $50 gift card and the runner-up will receive at $25 gift card (grade 8-12 only, all work must be original and will be judged by grade 8-12 teachers).