Understanding Christianity is an excellent RE resource for children aged 4-14. As part of supporting our local school using this, our sermon series is based on the eight core concepts. This has the advantages of linking the congregation and local schoool and giving people an understanding of the big picture of the biblical narrative.
The resource Understanding Christianity has been developed by the Church of England and other bodies in response to the low levels of religious understanding seen amongst school children. It is designed as a teaching resource to enhance pupils’ understanding, and is in no way designed to be an evangelistic tool. As well as the information for teachers, artwork was also developed, including a frieze of seven of the eight core concepts and symbols for all of them.
This also gives an opportunity to churches to both support their local school in increaing their pupils’ religious literacy, and also in increasing the religious literacy of their congregations. As another link between our church and school, we are using the artwork and holding a sermon series based on the eight core concepts (with a ninth session drawing them together). The frieze and explanatory booklet are available to buy online. I’ve also included the quote from each of the readings (NIV 2011) that I used to link together the artwork with the sermon series.
God – 1 John 4:7-17 Link to sermon
“God is love” 1 John 4:16
Introduce the course, and the links it gives us with our local school.
God is love. We see his love revealed in his creation, the sending of his Son, and the power of his Spirit. And so we are called to respond to God’s love by loving one another.
Creation – Job 38:1-15
“the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” Job 38:7
God lovingly created all things and created us in his image. This gives us (and Job!) the framework in which we can live our lives – as beloved children of God surrounded by the wonder of God’s creation.
Fall – Romans 1:18-23 Link to sermon
“they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” Romans 1:23
Our loving God created us to be in relationship with him – to worship him – but we rejected him. The Fall in an ongoing reality of human existence – things are not as God longs for them to be. God longs for us to return to him, to confess our sins and recognise how God is working to overcome the Fall. What things draw us away from worshipping God?
People of God – Deuteronomy 10:12-21
“He is your praise; he is your God” Deuteronomy 10:21
In his love, God does not abandon his creation after the fall, but chooses a people to be a blessing to the world. He reveals himself to them, makes a covenant with them, and asks them to choose to follow him. We still have the same choice to make, and have the example of the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 11) that has gone before.
Incarnation – Luke 1:26-33, 46-55
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus” Luke 1:31
The People of God failed to follow God’s call, so God was born as a human to bring his kingdom to his creation. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus show us the way to God, and open up the way for us to come to God. This is the fulfilment of God’s promises and an invitation for us to be part of God’s new kingdom.
Gospel – John 3:13-21
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The Good News of Jesus is that God’s love is available to us all. The Good News of God’s new kingdom is shown through the events of Jesus’ life, his miracles, his actions, and his teaching.
Salvation – Ephesians 2:1-10 Link to sermon
“it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” Ephesians 2:8
At the heart of the Gospel is the message that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have been saved from our sins, from our separation from God’s love. We are saved through our faith, and as God’s handiwork, we are called to be part of the re-creation of the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom of God – Colossians 1:3-14
“he has brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” Colossians 1:13
The Kingdom of God is the repair of God’s creation. God sends his Holy Spirit to strengthen and empower his people to bring people the good news of love, light and justice. We are give the power and responsibility of bearing fruit in every good work, as part of the coming of the kingdom.
The Big Picture – Colossians 1:15-23
Drawing together these themes, Paul encourages us to remain holy and continue in our faith. What can we do to help each other in this, and what does it mean to be a servant of the gospel?