Dear Parents,
Last week, we left Joseph in Egypt. Although he had risen from slave and prisoner to Second in Command over all Egypt, his story was not finished yet. What about his brothers and family? What happened to them?

Have students open Bibles to Genesis 45. Review with them what has happened throughout the life of Joseph and why he is talking to his brothers now. If they don’t remember, back up a little and read chapter 42.

Have the students write or draw something that stood out to them from the story, and ask them to explain what they chose and why.

Ask the students for their questions about the story. Write down all the questions that pop up, whether on-topic, or off (feel free to make a separate list for off-topic questions). Focus on answering the questions that are closer to the heart of the passage. Explain that questions that have sidetracked are also important, but we might need to come back with the answers to those.

(Examples of questions: Was Joseph glad to see his brothers again? Did Joseph’s brothers feel frightened in Egypt? How big were the barns that stored all of the grain?)

Spend some time trying to find the answers to questions that you can. Read before and after the story. Google some questions. Check trusted Bible commentaries. Always compare answers you get with the Word of God.

Dear Parents,
This week we took our Bible skills to the Old Testament and looked at the story of Joseph. Joseph’s story is actually a story about God’s faithfulness. Through everything that happened to Joseph, the Lord was with him, working for the good of many people.

Turn in your Bible with your students and read Genesis 37:12-36 aloud.

Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
“Very well,” he replied.
So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.
When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?”
He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?”
“They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?”
Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

(If it seems like Joseph’s story isn’t quite finished, that’s because it is not. We will be looking at the second half of Joseph next week.

Begin asking observation questions: What happened? Who did it happen to? Who are the important people in the story? How did it happen? Why? Etc. See what emerges as an important theme to your students. Write down their observations and answers.

Ask the students for their questions. Write down all the questions that pop up, whether on-topic, or off (feel free to make a separate list for off-topic questions). Focus on answering the questions that are closer to the heart of the passage. Explain that questions that have sidetracked are also important, but we might need to come back next week with the answers to those.

As the children ask their questions, allow the group to respond with an answer, and make sure to back up these answers with text from the Bible. Ask the child who answers a question if they know somewhere in the Bible where they can find that answer.

Possible questions that might arise:
• What is slavery? (give historical context)
• Why would a brother want to kill or sell his own brother? sin! – Jesus said that anyone who says he “hates” his brother has committed murder in his heart…how might this apply to what we read today
• Who are the Midianites? context of history – group of people from Midian, sometimes Israel’s enemy – e.g., Gideon & the Midianites. Moses’ wife was from Midian(?) – check for accuracy…

Work together to find answers to any and all questions. Check google, trusted Bible commentaries, and the Bible itself. Always test your answers against what the Bible actually says. You may not be able to answer all the questions in one sitting. Make a list of questions you would like to research throughout the week, and come back to.

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Prodigal Son. If you remember, we began eight weeks ago with the Parable of the Lost Sheep, learning about how God seeks and saves the Lost. This week’s parable shows just how much God is willing to do that. Grab a Bible and ask your children to tell you what a parable is. Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom.

Ask your students to turn in their Bibles to Luke 15:11—

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Ask & Discuss:
• Who is the father in this story?
• Who are the sons? (prodigal & one who stayed home)? What in the Bible story makes you think this?
• What made the prodigal son return to his family’s home?
o Did you expect him to be welcomed back, or for the family to be angry?
• Why do you think the father had such a big celebration when the prodigal son came home?
• What can you learn about God from this story (how did the father treat his sons – the one who stayed and the lost one)?

Pray together thanking God for how he welcomes each of us back, no matter what we have done.

Dear Parents,
This week we looked at the Parable of the Talents (or bags of gold). Jesus used parables when he was teaching. A parable is a story about something that you already know about, which helps you to understand something about God and his kingdom. Some of the things we might read in the Bible aren’t part of our lives today, but we can still learn about God from the stories that Jesus told.

Ask your children to turn in their Bibles to Matthew 25:14—

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Ask the students to retell the story, what happened, and why they think the master responded to the servants as “well done” or “wicked and lazy”.
Ask & Discuss:
• Why do you think the master called the last servant “wicked and lazy?”
o What did he do/not do that made him lazy in the eyes of the master?
• Who is the master in the story?
• Who are the servants?
• What might the “talents” represent in the story. It’s money there, but what if I don’t have any money?
o What is something that God has given you?
o How can you use that to praise him and tell others about him?
• What is the word we use to describe someone who uses what they have in a good way? (responsible)
o Think of a time when you were responsible. Share with us.
o How can you be responsible with God’s gifts?