Covenants, Commandments, and Christ

If you’re following Seasons and Sacraments, then you’re getting ready to begin a wonderful “fall” Sunday School – or midweek school or homeschool.

Returning from all those summer breaks, you’ll have time to ease into the beauty of God’s promise to one old man who must have been familiar with the sandy seashore and the starry sky. You’ll read about him who likely understood disappointment and waiting and loneliness – and perhaps midlife crisis? You’ll have a chance for some of your students to share their own get to know me and my family time as you come back together to finish up YEAR B in this three year curriculum.

Join me as I go through these three preparation weeks again.

The first unit (from three years ago, look – they’re still dated and kind of in a mess!) are right here for you –

Fall Year B COVENANT INTRO

After you’ve delved into all that FAMILY STUFF, your TEN COMMANDMENT STUDY will use the adventures of Joseph to highlight the need for God to tell his treasured people how to live.

You’ll have to ask me to send those ….

Who’s ready for a new year ….

How to Start Over

Wow.

Summer.

Apologies.

I had goals. I promised to send you on a weekly journey through the 52 stories many weeks ago. It was time to start fresh with Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 and the ultimate questions of God and man and knowledge and eternity and never ending this side of life struggles that can become triumphs. And then life threw me a curve ball.

A new spiritual dilemma hit me hard, like a baseball to left field that caught me unaware in the outfield as I blinked into the blinding ray of sun, my gloved hand not even reaching up. This thing smacked me in the forehead and I fell flat on the turf, watching stars scramble in blurred succession, questions racing in my mind, the first being “what was that?”

I’ve experienced these knock outs before.

They’ll send you out of the game for awhile.

When I was in junior high school, one of my friends started dating a guy of a different race. Well, as much as you can “date” when you’re fourteen and don’t have transportation. And so I did the white church girl thing to do. I asked for prayer for her during Sunday School and the white haired teacher just stared at me. I thought she was taking in the horror of it all. Instead she asked if I wanted to rephrase that request because she was not sure that it said anything in the Bible about biracial couples. And I was ashamed. And I wondered what else I might have wrongly presumed. And I did not go up to bat for awhile. I sat out, keeping quiet on the prayer request bench the rest of that school year.

There was this time in college when I started attending a Sunday night service where the reformed Baptist preacher was teaching Romans verse by verse and every week I couldn’t keep up. It was as if I was at bat and balls of information were coming at me so fast and I struck out over and over, every time asking as I returned to the dugout of my twin bed at Furman University, “Is God fair?” And my new friend living down the hall in my dorm building came from such a different background than me and once I must have offended her when she was talking about her childhood and I felt pity on her and she saw it and she threw this at me – “Don’t look at me like that. God loves me just as much as he loves you.”

And I was ashamed. I don’t know which ashamed. I don’t know if I was ashamed that I couldn’t believe that was true or if I was ashamed that she thought that it was.

Later during my time at college, this friend told me that she’d gotten married over spring break at the court house and no one knew and so she still lived in the girls’ dorm and her husband still lived in the boys’ dorm and sometimes they did get to secretly meet up and have sex and of course that broke the school’s residence hall rules, but it didn’t seem like that it broke God’s rules and I did not know what to say. I did not know what to say and I was at that point paid by the university as a “resident assistant.” I did not report the school infraction, but I wondered if it was right – any and all of it. And I wondered why my gut Godly reaction was to keep my mouth shut. It was like I was an imposter umpire. And I wondered for the first time if God even needed referees.

But not much of that compared to the time post college graduation that my probably favorite person from high school told me that he was gay. And he basically said that he thought that he was still on my God team. And my mom wondered if I was afraid that he would get AIDS and I was just afraid that he would get HELL.

And HELL about described my confusion about that whole thing. That whole thing. And all I knew was that I loved him. I loved this friend. I was sure of it. I felt that love. And I decided to still love God, even though God did not stir up much feeling in me then and I know now that what I was experiencing was the agonizing groans of prayers that only the Spirit can cry out for us. The ones that have no real words.

When we had been in high school – maybe eleventh grade? – we had to memorize a piece of literature and recite it to the class and I think that I chose something from whatever Shakespeare play we’d read, but my sweet friend did an excerpt of a sermon – Jonathon Edwards’ Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

I did not believe my friend was in the hands of an angry God when he sat across the dinner table from me and confessed that he was homosexual. But God, God was the victim of my anger. And God withstood it. I kept trying to hit God hard with that ball he pitched me, but God caught it every time. He caught my hard fly balls and sent me others.

It is a similar em-passe of confusion that I find myself in this summer as another friend’s secrets have been exposed. Criminal secrets. Hurtful secrets. Bizarre secrets. Victim-filled secrets. And I have wrestled with God. I have questioned my judgment. I have asked if good and evil can coexist.

And I have failed to keep my blogging promise to you, my sweet little audience of teachers to young folks.

But you understand. I know that you do. Because you are on this team and you’ve had similar seasons.

And if you’re in one of those can’t “outwardly produce” seasons right now because you’re inwardly wrestling, then I want to encourage you. YOU ARE ACTUALLY STILL IN THE GAME.

Consider it Spring Training.

And it is good.

It refines us.

Hardly anyone considers that such tough questions are suitable for children’s teachers. But they are. I want to train so that I am true and honest. I’ve been tested, I’m being tested, I’ll be tested. He holds me in His hand. And He is not angry. And our children need leaders who have sweated this stuff because they will sweat it, too.

And so it was that on the final day of VBS this June when I was to finish my small group rotation teaching Philippians 4:4-7, I went in for prayer so that I might be living these statements. And, somehow – I did and was.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.

Let your reasonableness be known to all, The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious for anything,

But in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,

let your requests be made know to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What are you anxious about, dear friend?

Where do you need peace?

Let your request be made known to Him. Or allow the Spirit to interpret your groanings.

(Special) Needs: a Visual

About a year ago I met with a lady who was interested in worship aids for the child with special needs.

We successfully brainstormed a page full of ideas, some that we did not later find on the Internet, already discovered and likely patented.

The rest – well, the rest are still listed on some file in some folder somewhere on my laptop. I fail at follow through. That is (just one of) my special need(s.)

If you know me through real life or this blog, then you know that there is something in me that joys over a preschooler. Perhaps I am simply simple. Perhaps I am no nonsense, stop the bs, cut to the chase, just be honest. Perhaps I am short attention spanned. Perhaps I am ego, eager to be a living dictionary.

I love words, but an image paired with a phrase is doubly stunning. 

And so I clamor to the children’s section of any bookstore or my favorite library. And I don’t read stacks of chapter books. 

No.

I look at books that have a few good words. 

Hearing and seeing put together is more powerful for me. 

Proof: I cannot learn a foreign language from those repeat after tapes. My initial response is, “What? Spell that.”

A young Spanish speaking lady lived with us for a few months and asked me, “How will spelling it help?”

I don’t know. But it would have and it will.

Obviously I learned by phonics because sounds look like something and so if I cannot hear correctly, then draw me those sounds and my chances of repeating them increase.

I believe this is true with the understanding of ideas.

For instance, in our son Ian’s homemade First Catechism scrapbook, I have these photos:

   
 

And these words:

Does God know all things?

Yes. Nothing can be hidden from God.

I know. Fun, huh?!?

Yep, I like my kid books to be fun adult reading, too.

(Perhaps I have not added too much to his future counseling bills!)

Hopefully, in the case of that cute scrapbook, I have not cemented wrong meanings of ideas into our son’s conscience. 

I meant well. I really did.

Visuals do bring understanding, for right or wrong. And also make a memory.

For over a decade, I’ve been picky about the pictures in Children’s Bibles.

There are several reasons why, but perhaps the most important is this:

Presented together, a word and a picture mean something. And that meaning may be difficult to separate in the future.

Is it the meaning that you want portrayed? 

Or, is it too often true that the pairing does not mean what you think that means, to paraphrase a movie character…

Research shows that some people process particularly with visuals.

She is teaching me this –

  
And imagine my delight when she mentions The Lord’s Prayer.

  

The Lord’s Prayer was incomprehensible until I broke it down into specific visual images.

Wow. And I had just wanted visuals for it and the Creed to help my young non-readers in Children’s Church.

This summer as we begin in the Old Testament with the stories curriculum, written with the preschooler in mind, would you help me find appropriate visuals to explain some great truths

  • God made me
  • God made all things
  • God is everywhere
  • God knows all things
  • God can do all his holy will
  • God is love

Next week we’ll look at Genesis 1.

This week remember – visuals don’t have to be static images on a page or screen. 

We are the living visuals that He uses daily. Shine some light on truth right where you are today!

    Waiting for Power

    I have a love/hate relationship with it, waiting.

    I hate waiting for others.

    I, clearly, however, must love making others wait.

    I’ve made a few of you do it.

    What have you been doing? Over here at “mrs Melanie’s,” I’ve been lounging in the post-resurrection days. 

    There was that hub-bub of Holy Week and Easter Sunday and then I nestled right down into feasting after my fast. I feasted on meat and desserts, and spring break vacating with my two men, and naps, and stacks of books just sized for skimming.

    I got so feast fever oriented that I stopped most of what is even essential, work. 

    He came back. Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed.

    And, I left him here.

    Most of you did, too.

    Many of my church going friends won’t even think much about it. But at some point, surely some summer-freckled hungry young one will float over to you in the neighborhood pool, ask you to baptize them, and holler out loud –

    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT JESUS ANYWAY?

    You’re going to steal that thunder this year. You are. Tomorrow you are going to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. And that kid won’t forget. No he will not. He will look to the clouds and remember what happened to that Jesus.

    That kid is going to hear you tell them that Jesus left again, with that body so much like ours, yet amazingly different, too.

    And rising up into the clouds and disappearing is one of those amazingly ways that resurrected body is different from ours.

    You are going to wave goodbye and be sad he left so soon. Forty days was not so long. You are going to wonder if you’ll ever fly like that and when that super-God-man is coming back. You’re going to be stuck waiting alone again.

    You’re going to do all this while letting go of one helium balloon.

    I’ve done it many times.

    And sometimes with children. And it stops me in my tracks every time. I watch it until it disappears.

    And then I wait.

    Pentecost power is coming. 

    Ten more big sleeps.

    Then the work returns.

    Disclaimer: Watch for power lines and trees. Jesus left from a mountaintop, but you’ll want to find a clear balloon path if you’re in the valley!

    Disclaimer #2: Jack Klumpenhower gave such good critique of my lesson plans that I’ve been busy (ok, thinking) of reworking them!

    WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?

    WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?

    Mark 16:1-8

    Explaining Easter, Year B

    ENVIRONMENT AID:  Disappointed. Despondent. Consider placing a set of toy soldiers on a large table. Be sure they are knocked over. Or, perhaps put out a board game of strategy, like Risk.

    Give each student an index card with one of the following scenarios:

    • You struck out at bat during the last inning of the league championship game. Your team lost.
    • You failed your driver’s test. You have to wait three weeks to take it again. All your friends know that you were going to the DMV today.
    • You had pneumonia for a month this winter. You tried, but you couldn’t make up all the work. You have to repeat seventh grade math.
    • Your home caught fire and only a few things can be saved. You have to go with your parents to try to salvage through the remains.
    • You got him as a puppy when you were just four years old. He slept with you every night. He died this morning.
    • You finally made it into a favorite club that you’ve been wanting to join for two years. Your dad tells you that he has a new job and you have to move.

    You’ve all had some disappointing things happen (as described on your cards.) Pretend that the situation described on your card is your situation right now. How do you feel? What are you going to do?

    LOOKING AT THE WORD: Jesus followers likely thought that he had come to set up an earthly kingdom. Now he was dead. Were their hopes crushed or did they still have hope?     Have each student open the bible to the text for the day. Read it aloud. Then ask, the journalist’s questions.

    • Who is in our story today?
    • Where do they go?
    • What are they going to do?
    • What are they worried about? Why?
    • How is that problem solved? 

    I WONDER DISCUSSION:

    I wonder if they remembered what Jesus had told them? I wonder if they were counting days?

    I wonder if they had anointed other bodies before?

    I wonder how much they’d slept, how much they’d cried, how much they’d asked God, “Why?”

    I wonder who rolled the stone away …

    I wonder if I would believe …

    ATTRIBUTES OF GOD:

    Do you have a list of God’s attributes and/or names displayed in your classroom? Read them aloud. Some may include

    OMNIPOTENT. HEALER. GREAT PHYSICIAN. COMPASSIONATE. HELPER. HOPE.

    If you have used the Children’s Catechism Q/As for prior memory work, then refer to this one –

    CAN GOD DO ALL THINGS? YES. GOD CAN DO ALL HIS HOLY WILL.

    If you have charted how Jesus shows himself to be both MAN and GOD as you read through Mark, then read those descriptions aloud.

    COULD THIS GOD/MAN THAT WE HAVE STUDIED ABOUT HAVE COME TO LIFE AGAIN? WOULD THAT MAKE SENSE?

    Begin a new chart called DESCRIPTIONS/PROOF. On one column begin this week to list proofs that Jesus came to life again. On the opposite column you may contrast a dead body. The list will grow each week. Example –

     DESCRIPTIONS/PROOFS

    RESURRECTED BODY      DEAD BODY

    not in tomb      laid in tomb

    CREATIVE RESPONSE: Fear, worry, and questions happen to all of us when we are disappointed. God has been saying “Fear not” for generations. Listen to this song about God talking to another Mary, the mother of Jesus, before Jesus was born. Write down phrases you hear that remind you that Jesus will/did rise again and that his kingdom will not end. Or, as you listen, pick up our soldiers here who have fallen down and make ready for action again  …

    HOW DID CHRIST BEING GOD THE SON BECOME MAN

    Easter, Year B

    Easter is more than a Sunday – it is a seven week season, encompassing the forty days of resurrected appearances, the ascension, and the wait for the day of Pentecost.

    This year, Epiphany – Lent – and Easter lessons are a journey through the gospel of Mark. (With Easter season adding some additional gospel accounts and a study of Acts 1-2.) Mark is the shortest of the gospels and is action packed! Look for the verbs.

    We continue to probe these big three questions

    • Who am I?
    •  Who is God?
    •  How should I live?

    But instead of doing it in the broad context of Creed, Commandments, and Lord’s Prayer, we work now more intensely with short passages.

    We want the bible in the student’s hands.

    We want the student to grapple with the text himself.

    We want each person to see the past reality and still present implications of the truths.

    Few teacher prompts are supplied. Each week contains roughly the same suggestions.

    • A suggested environment “help” to place students in the situation at hand
    • A list of questions to aid in “I Wonder” discussion
    • A list of attributes of God
    • A choice of creative responses

    If you’re already using Seasons and Sacraments, then you’ve been in Mark’s gospel for many weeks and have been making a chart in class showing “JESUS AS MAN” and “JESUS AS GOD.” While that chart is still in view, begin creating a new chart that will highlight proofs of the resurrection. Consider calling this new poster DESCRIPTIONS/CELEBRATE LIFE and the two columns being “A RESURRECTED BODY” and “A DEAD BODY.”

    If Seasons and Sacraments is new for you, then you’ll have no problem starting at this week’s lesson – WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE? The full scope is here https://beingmissmelanie.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/seasons-and-sacraments-scope.pdf

    This season’s memory work comes from John 15,

    as he now abides in us and we in him.

    Lessons post weekly, but the six weeks following your celebratory Easter Sunday includes these passages:

    WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE? Mark 16:1-8

    WHO CAN EXPLAIN ALL THIS? Luke 24:13-45

    DOES HE FORGIVE?  John 21:1-17

    NOW, WHAT? Mark 16:14-18

    JESUS ASCENDS Acts 1

    THE HOLY SPIRIT COMES Acts 2

    And on the next Sunday, you’ll be ready to celebrate Pentecost!

    By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world

    I went through the Stations of the Cross with a group of early elementary children last Friday morning. I was substitute teaching at a Catholic School. At each station, we responded and “adored” Christ on bowed knee.

    By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

    I had planned a Palm Sunday lesson for later in the day for my second graders, but it seemed more purposeful to unpackage this statement. It was so full of meaning and I was anxious to know if they knew any of it or if they knew only what to do and say.

    I’ve been part of a subculture that doubts repetitive rote dialogue, common prayers, and smells and bells. But I had not been a robotic participant as we’d walked to each visual and listened to a portion of the passion narrative. No, I had remembered and felt things. I had stated truths that were sometimes hard to believe and warranted claiming again and again. And I wondered how a child experienced such.

    So I wrote the phrase on the chalkboard and we talked.

    I like talking with children. Some people like talking to children. I think that those people miss too much stuff. Good stuff.

    We began with a simplified Socratic method. “Let’s read this,” I said, and we did.

    By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

    Then I asked, “Is this true?”

    Wikipedia currently defines the Socratic method as a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.

    Can second graders think critically? Evidently so.

    “Who is this you in the statement?” I began. A chorus replied, “JESUS.” Check.

    “What does redeem mean?” I continued. A few hands were raised. I acknowledged the students one by one and wrote their answers on the board, not leaving out any words or phrases that they suggested, because this was brainstorming.

    Saved. Fixed. Clearing.

    “Tell me more about that word clearing,” I coached a bit.

    “Well, you know like …” The student’s hand was moving across the air in front of him as he searched for what he meant. I watched what that hand seemed to be doing.

    “Clearing, like maybe clearing something away?”

    ‘Yeah. That’s it,” my second grade boy said. “Like clearing away.”

    I was ready to move on. “What needs clearing away?” I continue. I point to the words clearing away and to the rest of the brainstorming list, too.

    What in this world needs cleared away? What needs fixing? What needs saving? What does it need saved from?

    There was a bit of excitement in the room by then. The light bulbs were coming on.

    Storms. Disbelief. Wrong stuff. Sin. Evil.

    Now some folks would have shied away from that first word that was hollered out, STORMS. But I just asked, “What kind of storms?” And this girl just replied, quick as a wink, “WEATHER STORMS.” And I wrote that answer down on that blackboard because I happen to think that the world needs saving from weather storms. Don’t you? I also think that our interpretation of the saving power of the cross is way too limited.

    “Tell me when this first disbelief and wrong stuff started,” I said and stopped. Silence is ok. Don’t be afraid of it.

    And this is where there was, I admit, a bit of guiding. We found our way to Genesis 3 and we rehearsed some events that showed disbelief on the man and woman’s part. We decided that the serpent was evil. We remembered that a consequence was death and I asked them then about the whole Palm Sunday celebration that would be coming on Sunday for most of them.

    Jesus was going to Jerusalem and the people began treating him like a king. Why?

    “Because he was teaching the people not to disbelieve in God,” someone said. And I quite liked that she had gone back to that word on the chalkboard, disbelief.

    “Hmmmm…he was. He was teaching. He was also doing other things…”

    A boy jumped almost out of his chair. “Healing. He was healing.”

    “What’s the biggest miracle healing that you think Jesus did?” I asked. The class was silent again. Slowly they began to list the things that Christ had done. Blind could see. Deaf could hear. Lame could walk. Food could be multiplied.

    “Anything greater?” I added.

    LAZARUS.

    It was a whisper. And all of a sudden, I think that sixteen second graders got the correlations of evil bringing disbelief and death and a cross bringing a saving, a fixing, and a clearing away of all that.

    If it hadn’t been raining, then we’d have gone out for recess.

    Because we were done. That was enough for the day.

    We praise and adore you, O Christ. For by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

    And as they say in second grade, ALL OF IT. AMEN.

    NOT JUST LAZARUS.

    I admit it. I went to another Stations of the Cross that night at another location. This time I had a little less disbelief and a little more conviction when I answered each time. THANKS SECOND GRADE!

     

    Jesus Prays in the Garden

    or, WHAT I DO WHEN I TOOK A MENTAL HEALTH DAY LAST WEEK AND AM NOT SO PREPARED …

    So, the usual lesson plan for the stories starts with a QUESTION FOR THE DAY. And, let’s just say that last week – well, I got stuck on the QUESTION FOR THE DAY – so much so that I did not blog. At all.

    It’s OK. You’ll have weeks like that, too. And, when you do,

    This is my favorite resource – http://www.jesusstorybookbible.com

    Like it on facebook and sometimes you’ll even be sent a free video that goes exactly with the week that you are set to teach –

    JSB on FB Go now and you’ll get the night in the garden story!!!!

    And, just so you know that I was right there with you last week if you were trying to keep up with the syllabus without me, I’m going to tell you all my wonderings …

    I wonder when you don’t want to be alone …

    I wonder who you call, who you ask to come along and where you go …

    I wonder when you cry and are afraid, who do you turn to and how do you decide to keep on …

    I wonder when the decision is made and you go forward, whatever the trial … do you ever find that you are brave enough to sing …

    JESUS FORETELLS DEATH AND RESURRECTION

    Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

    Mark 8:31-38

    EXPLAINING LENT, YEAR B

    ENVIRONMENT AID: Jesus knew the future and he was ready to prepare his friends for it. Consider setting up a business boardroom. Use a chalkboard or dry erase board or laptop/screen for brainstorming/note taking. You might designate students to be CEO, CFO, President, Chairman of the Board, VP of Human Resources, etc. Choose a goal for your group dependent on the age range of your students. You might have a goal of world peace and be the President’s cabinet. You might be a league of Super Heroes trying to defeat an enemy. You might be the CDC trying to eradicate a certain disease or a humanitarian organization trying to feed the world’s hungry.     

    • On your board, write “GOAL: _____________”
    • Brainstorm possible plans to achieve the goal.

    As they enter, say:

    We’ve got a huge goal to talk about today. Come on in and get straight to work planning …

    LOOKING AT THE WORD: Have each student open the bible to the text for the day. Read it aloud. Then ask, the journalist’s  questions

    • Who is in our story today?
    • Where are we? When does this take place? What has just happened?
    • What happens? What is the conflict or problem in our story today? Is there more than one conflict?
    • How does Jesus solve the problem?
    • How do the characters react?

    I WONDER DISCUSSION:

    I wonder when Jesus knew about or understood the Father’s full plan for him?

    I wonder what God’s goal was …

    I wonder if Jesus knew how Peter would react?

    I wonder how the disciples felt about this cross and resurrection? Were they shocked, confused, disappointed, afraid  …

    I wonder how I might have felt if I’d heard Jesus say that he would die and rise again …

    I wonder how it felt to have Jesus say, “Get behind me Satan” …

    I wonder how it felt to hear Jesus say “Take up your cross … follow me … lose your life to save it?”

    I wonder what my cross is … If Jesus’ cross was the Father’s plan for him, then what is the Father’s plan for me?

    ATTRIBUTES OF GOD:

    Do you have a list of God’s attributes and/or names displayed in your classroom? If not, then considering starting one this week. You may want to highlight

    TEACHER. OMNISCIENT. LAMB OF GOD. ALPHA AND OMEGA.

    If you have used the Children’s Catechism Q/As for prior memory work, then refer to these –

    DOES GOD KNOW ALL THINGS? YES. NOTHING CAN BE HID FROM GOD.

    CAN GOD DO ALL THINGS? YES. GOD CAN DO ALL HIS HOLY WILL.

    WHY SHOULD YOU GLORIFY GOD? BECAUSE HE MADE ME AND TAKES CARE OF ME.

    If you have charted how Jesus shows himself to be both MAN and GOD as you read through Mark, then add phrases or events from today’s passage.

    HE KNOWS THE FUTURE? HE DIES?

    CREATIVE RESPONSE: Many worship services end with a charge and blessing to go back out into the world. Go back to the “drawing board” and erase what you had written at the beginning of class. Your goal now is

    GOAL: GO IN PEACE TO LOVE AND SERVE THE WORLD

    Jesus’ words in our text today seem pointed, direct, and challenging. Take up our cross? Lose our life to find it? The charge to love and serve the world may feel overwhelming. If we take them in the full light of scripture, then we must also receive his encouragement. Consider playing a song like one of these before brainstorming how your group may love and serve the world.

    Or, if you have not “buried your alleluia” for Lent – try this one!

    Robbers, a Hurt Man, and … Donkey? OH, MY!

    “Let’s act it out!”

    This is a pretty loved directive in most children’s classes. There are several ways to see if children “got” the message of the day while reinforcing it.

    • Questions, plain old review question time.
    • Quiz games, with teams and winners to heighten the focus.
    • A “craft” that symbolizes the theme or action – even a coloring sheet.

    But none, I think, capture the full scope like retelling the story itself. You’ll see (and hear!) what parts the children took in and which parts they are still wrestling with. And, yes, it has been a long week here so I am ok with ending sentences on a preposition.

    Yes, it’s been the kind of week where if preschool Ian (if he was still a preschooler) asked if we could play Good Samaritan at home, then I’d reply, ‘”If I can be the hurt man.” I’d say that because then I could mostly just lay on the couch.

    You been there?

    I know that you have.

    And it would be ok. Because even though Ian is an only child, he would be content to play every other character in that story. Oh gosh, I remember those days. Do dramatic play at home, mamas. Do it.

    Every time that we played Good Samaritan at home, I got to see two sides of Ian’s personality.

    THE ROBBERS!!! Oh yes, most of us are a bit consumed by villains. And when you see your child get into robbing with such voracity, it can be a bit disheartening.

    I was soon saved every time by the turn of character, though. Because eventually Ian became THE GOOD SAMARITAN. The care that he took wrapping my hurts in band aids and then pretending to lift me on an imaginary animal was breathtaking. The robbing was done loudly and quickly. The helping was done quietly and slowly, a compassionate gentleness oozing out of those big brown eyes.

    It can happen in the classroom setting, too.

    Although I am going to just interrupt this blog post right now with this caveat –

    Don’t be surprised if someone wants to be the donkey.

    It happens. The first time that we did the Christmas pageant, children dressed in costume, nativity photo-op at Apostles during the Luke 2 reading at Lessons and Carols, I was appalled that our fourth and fifth graders added a character to my play. Unbeknownst to me, someone had to be the donkey – and he was the most coveted role. So, just expect it. Someone may want to be the Samaritan’s animal. Unless it causes possible bodily harm to it or the other characters – GO WITH IT.

    A couple of my favorite curriculums use the act of retelling stories by encouraging children to play with wooden props and peg people from bible stories they have heard. You’ll see the emphasis on a worship atrium in CATECHESIS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD and the use of “I wonder” questions that I’ve copied for myself from GODLY PLAY.

    Play GOOD SAMARITAN this week. You’ll experience the action and emotion of it all. You’ll find out if there’s a little something in your story that you need to tweak to make correct for your students. You’ll make a memory. Trust me, memory making is priority. More on memories in a later post!