Primary Sharing Time Idea: Repentance

This is a Sharing Time I did this year on the topic of Repentance. (Previous entries in my Primary ideas series are A Chieko Okazaki Sharing Time Lesson and How to Sincerely Enjoy Working in Nursery.)

Pretend it never happened.
Materials:

  1. Plain Tshirt (that can be thrown away)
  2. Sharpie
  3. 6-10 miscellaneous costume accessories (hats, scarves, jackets, wigs, wings, tutus). It works best if these are things that would partially obscure, but not entirely cover, a Tshirt.
  4. A hanger for each accessory in #3, plus one more
  5. Paper

Do something good to make up for it.
Preparation:

  1. With Sharipe, write “I told a lie” in large block letters across the front of Tshirt
  2. Label each costume accessory hanger by attaching 8.5×11″ paper with one of the following phrases:
    • Pretend it never happened.
    • Make up an excuse.
    • Do something good to make up for it.
    • Tell more lies to cover it up.
    • Blame it on someone else.
    • Get rid of the evidence.
    • Say that telling a lie isn’t bad after all.
  3. Label an empty hanger “JESUS CHRIST ATONED FOR OUR SINS”
  4. You will need some kind of rack system to hold all the hangers. You could string yarn/wire from hook to hook using the hooks that many church blackboards have across the top. You could hang all the hangers on one sturdy hanger, then hang that hanger on said hooks. A coat rack would probably be easiest if you have one. (I used the many hangers on one hanger method.) It doesn’t matter if they are clumped together and not displayed so that you can see all of them at once. In fact, it can add drama to reveal them one at a time with only small preview glimpses of the upcoming ones.

JESUS CHRIST ATONED FOR OUR SINS.
Lesson:

Start wearing the shirt. You can cover it with a coat and then reveal it, or just have it visible from the start. Explain that you did something wrong. For Junior Primary, have one child read the words on the shirt for everyone else. Show the children with your body language that you feel bad about what you have done. Tell the children you feel bad about what you have done, and you would really like to get rid of the bad feeling.

Then say that you have some ideas for how you can get rid of the bad feeling. Take one of the hangers off the rack and read the idea for getting rid of the sin. Take the associated costume item and put it on. Ask the children if it made your sin go away. Your shirt is still visible, so the children will say no. Take each item in turn, trying in vain to cover up the words on your shirt. Some of the items cover your sin a little bit, and you can try to stretch them over your shirt as best you can. But even to the extent that it is covered, we know the sin is still there! Your increasing exasperation with so many failed attempts, and your increasingly fabulous appearance, are the attention-getters for this lesson.

Finally, give up and take off all the costume accessories that didn’t work. As one final attempt, take the hanger labeled “Jesus Christ atoned for our sins.” Express real hope about this option, but also some confusion–there’s nothing on the hanger! How does this work?? Take off the Tshirt and place it on the hanger, and hang it back up on the rack. Explain that repentance through the atonement of Jesus Christ is the only way we can actually get rid of our sins, instead of just trying to cover them up. When we repent, we take off our sins and Jesus puts them on himself through the atonement. Then we are truly free of our sins.

Credits:

Like the Chieko Okazaki Sharing Time, the inspiration for this lesson came from Sugardoodle, in this case in a post by Deborah Naves.

Comments

  1. *shaking my fist* Cynthia L.! Chieko! Sugardoodle! Where were you a few months ago when I needed you? However, is there a 5th Sunday coming soon? Because the adults in my ward could use this lesson… thank you!

  2. very nice — thank you for this.

  3. Bro. Jones says:

    It’ll be hard to wear a t-shirt over my white dress shirt and tie. :) Kidding. Very cool sharing time idea, and works well for little kids and senior primary alike.

  4. > Because the adults in my ward could use this lesson…

    I was thinking as I typed it up that this could work well for teens, say in Seminary. Adults would enjoy it and I think get a good reminder out of it. With the right group, if you sheepishly explained that this was originally for primary kids but you thought they might like it too, it might work. You really need a group with a good sense of humor about it though.

  5. This is a wonderful lesson, Cynthia. Your kids are blessed to have you.

  6. So let me get this straight, we should write our sins upon our clothes? I think scarlet would be a great color . . . .

  7. Yes, BRuss, this Sharing Time doubles as an entree into classic American literature. :)

  8. Believe it or not, I can see myself doing this in a Gospel Doctrine class, with the right lesson and the right introduction. It would have to be handled just right for that audience but could be done.

    Bravo!

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    You are a Primary rock star!

    Query: do any of the kids get tripped up with “Do something good to make up for it”? That one seems less “wrong” than the other ones.

  10. Kevin, that was as close as I got to something that sounds like the right answer but isn’t. (At the sugardoodle link, several of the suggested phrases are even closer, ex: “Pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to guide you.” I thought this was too confusing for the way I spun the lesson, though it might work better in the way she constructs it.) I strategically matched the “Do something good to make up for it” one with a knit poncho that did cover up most of the Tshirt, and I did it last (of the bad ideas). We talked about how doing good is always a good idea, but it isn’t the same as repentance. I think making this distinction is where the costume allegory really shines–it shows how covering up something that is still there is different from really taking it off.

  11. Here’s a freebie – good to have in your back pocket in case you’re told you have to do Sharing Time in two minutes.

    A couple of “missionaries” pretend to tract around the Primary room. They go from “house” to “house” and knock, and get a polite “No, thank you, we’re not interested” at each one.

    At the final location, the one where the teacher is, the missionaries knock and the teacher pretends to open the door.

    “Hi, we’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we are here to share a message….”

    “Oh, so you guys are Mormons? I knew a Mormon! I knew her when I was growing up! She was a HORRIBLE kid! She cheated on her tests, and kicked puppies, and she’d loosen the tops on the salt shakers when she went out to eat, and she NEVER left a piece of cake for anyone else, and she didn’t wash her hands after she used the bathroom, and….”

    And throw in as many horrible things as you can. Finish up with “I’d like to know more about Jesus, and how families can be together forever, but I want to find a church that teaches people to be nice. Thanks for coming.”

    No props, very little prep. You can then have a discussion about how people pay attention to the things we do, and that can have an impact on them later. We wouldn’t want to behave in a way that would keep somebody else from learning about the Gospel later on in life because we were bad examples.

  12. Michael, I’m not sure that would work for primary, especially Jr Primary. It has a harshness to it, which I think is intentional to drive the point home. But with their attention span and understanding levels, I think there is a good chance they wouldn’t get the real message, so the harsh aspect would really be the totality of their impression of it.

  13. Mommie Dearest says:

    Re: #11
    When I read this I thought that there surely would be a couple of gifted mischievous imps in the audience, for whom the salt-shaker trick would be a choice gem that they hadn’t thought of yet.

  14. This is a good lesson, but it sounds like some sort of cheap grace version of atonement/repentance that I don’t think is correct. I don’t think it is correct that Jesus takes our whipping for us as some form of ransom/scapegoat. and I think repentance does require forsaking the sin and turning toward a Christlike model of living, rather than just believing in the atonement.

    This comment makes me feel like a jerk, and I am sorry for that. I hope you understand where I am coming from.

  15. Cynthia,
    This is a fantastic lesson idea and execution. Has FHE written all over it, in addition to Primary. Well done.

  16. I don’t think the lesson is about HOW repentance works at all, Matt. It’s just about the fact that repentance is necessary, and works better than the other things, which are presented as alternatives to repentance. Nothing in the lesson says that repentance is easy or comes without following all the steps, including forsaking the sin, but that’s a different lesson.

  17. Matt, while I understand what you are saying, I think you’re focusing too hard. I’m 28 and I still learn more about what the atonement/repentance mean every time I study them. I don’t know that a ten year old can or needs to understand the intricacies of how the atonement shapes our lives.
    I don’t think this works as a catch-all atonement/repentance lesson, but I could see it being very effective for teaching that repentance is the only way to rid oneself of a sin. In other words, this lesson doesn’t discuss the process or the doctrine of repentance, but it very effectively teaches the importance.

  18. Great lesson idea!

  19. I just may steal this to use with my youth class. Maybe I could write”I stole the idea for this lesson” on my t-shirt!

  20. #19: Ha!

  21. Great lesson, Cynthia. Sugardoodle rocks!

  22. Wow. Just wow. Amazing and simple.

  23. LOVE this!

  24. this sounds like a great FHE…Does it ruin it if the little ones LIKE the dressup and coverups?

  25. This was brilliant. I can totally see myself giving this lesson someday when I’m actually in a teaching position of some kind. (And Ardis, I would love to see you do this in GD!)

  26. Love it!

  27. I just wanted you to know that I used this with my Laurels today in the lesson on honesty. It went over pretty darn well! Thanks so much.

  28. Aw, thanks Bee! That really so much to me.

  29. Er, that really *means* so much to me.

    Typing FAIL.

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