Monday, July 27, 2009

TCITB: Chpt 17 Adoption

from TCITB

Chpt 17 "Adoption in the Bible"
by David L. Bartlett

David Bartlett says, "While it is clear that the Old Testament presupposes that people will take almost parental responsibility for offspring not their own, it is not clear that ancient Israel had formal adoption practices. Many of the examples of adoption in both Old and New Testaments involve or suggest the adoption of adults..." [TCITB p. 375] He looks at adoption as " an image of the life of faith." I think he looks at this from some different angles, particularly the practices of the times the scriptures were written. [TCITB p. 376]

He examines passages about adoption from the Hebrew scriptures, the 1st century Greco-Roman world, and passages from the New Testament. He looks at God and His relationship to king David and to Israel [TCITB p 378-381], Moses, Esther, Joseph's sons. He looks at the roles of men, women, and extended family in providing custodial care and the long term benefits, reiterating that it's not clear that there were formal adoption proceedings. [TCITB p. 381-383] Hebrew families dealt compassionately with orphans and "elders took responsibility for people who were biologically the sons and daughters of other people." [TCITB p. 383] Roman adoption was quite different.[TCITB p. 383-385].

It's easy to forget that Joseph not being Jesus' biological father - Jesus was adopted. [TCITB p. 385-7] The author reminds us that there is no birth narrative for Jesus in Mark's gospel [TCITB p. 383] and wonders God's words during Jesus' baptism (Mark 1:11) suggest "an adoption formula." [TCITB p. 386]

The author explores "The Adoption of Believers" beginning in the Gospel of John. [TCITB p. 388-9] He discusses Paul's references to adoption. [TCITB p. 389-394] Drawing on other sources, he reminds us that Paul uses imagery for both adoption and biological fathering in his letters. [TCITB p. 393-4]

The author concludes 1) "Adoption is the free gift of God, and it brings together disparate people ...2) "Adoption includes inheritance, and therefore there is a strong eschatological component. . ." 3) "Adoption is sealed and certified by the Spirit. . ." He says that "Ephesians 1:1:5-13 strongly suggests baptismal formulas and themes. . . " He says, "The significance of a biblical image cannot be measured by the number of times biblical writers use that image" but rather it's ability to shed light on "a wide range of biblical literature and its "capacity to provide insights for the lives of interested people in every age." [TCITB p. 394]

The author explores implications for our faith communities. He reminds us that our "membership in God's family is always the result of God's activity" as opposed to our making it happen. [TCITB p. 395] He says, "Adoption is a powerful image because adoption transcends the boundaries and barriers set by biological and ethnic identity." [TCITB p. 395] It can apply to both individuals and peoples. There is naming involved and he says, "It reminds us that the identity of faithful people is in the identities God gives us rather than the identities we give ourselves." [TCITB p. 395] There are past, present, and future implications for adoption. Adoption involves both discipline and unconditional love. [TCITB p. 395] He elaborates on these implications for the people of God. He shares some really interesting thoughts about baptism (infant and believer's). [TCITB p. 396]

Interesting conclusions. Given what we know from the scriptures, he challenges the two parent, traditional male-female standard for adoption adding ". . . God of course is the prototypical single parent." Before you jump down anyone's throat, read his whole essay. [TCITB p. 396] I think he asks some realistic and tough questions of the Church as he ends this chapter - realistic and tough questions that challenge us to put policy, action, financial, and community support behind our verbal convictions. [TCITB p. 396-398]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Haven't read Subversive Influence in a long time but went visiting today. If you want more to ponder, go to CATEGORIES. The tag for child-related posts, EMERGING KIDS. Lots of interesting posts and comments.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

more thoughts about children and work

Many kids in my generation and more so in my parents and grandparents' generations grew up with real work to do. When my kids were little I was one of those people who was afraid of making my kids work "too hard." I didn't want to use them for "slave labor." I didn't want to make them do the things I didn't want to do so I didn't have to do them. Whatever...

At this point in my life I think that if you fall into that kind of thinking you miss the fact that God made us with plans for work*. Doing a good job has it's own intrinsic rewards. Being able to do something you love and get good at it, have others notice and ultimately have others ask you to do the job because you are so good at it is rewarding in itself with or without monetary compensation.

On the one hand you're trying to build a good work ethic in kids that will grow and carry them through adulthood (including doing a job just because it has to get done.) On the other had you're giving kids the privilege of work that can be just as meaningful for children at any age as it is for adults. Work grows self-confidence and self-worth. A child feels needed. They have an important job to do. They have a way to contribute to the good of their family unit.

Children can earn privilege. They can work to earn the privilege of more and more responsibility by remembering a chore, doing a good job, doing an extra good job. They earn trust.

If you have a group of kids working together you very quickly figure out who delegates, who manages, who manages shrewdly, lol! As kids grow, maybe they earn the privilege of doing the jobs they love most, and doing the things they're best at by doing the jobs they hate with a good attitude.

So what can toddlers do? Break down the jobs you do as a grown up.

Washing plastic dishes.
Folding towels and wash cloths.
Putting plates by each chair.
Putting napkins on a table.
Handing out programs.
Putting a Bible on each chair.

When I was old enough I sat by my mom when she played the organ and turned the pages. Even before I could read music she would nod and I would turn the page.

Picking wild flowers or garden flowers and bringing them to someone who is sick.
Running water in a plastic vase.

Spreading peanut butter or jelly on a piece of bread, though you may not want toddlers working with food for other people except in small family-type groups.

Picking fruit
Washing fruit
Passing out cookies.
Passing out paper cups.
Picking up empty communion cups and then washing hands.
Washing hands and putting out communion cups.

Helping change the colors on an altar or helping set a communion table (standing on a chair)

Picking up old programs or papers and throwing them away.
Handing out pens or pencils
Holding a collection bag
Putting new candles in candle holders
Blowing out candles

Putting out music folders for musicians. Why not paste or draw a picture of the instrument on the front of the folder and let a toddler put it on the chair by the instrument. (Yes, you walk with them so they don't knock over the guitars. Maybe their reward is hitting the drum a couple of times when they finish. Why not?)

All of this - not alone but helping a grown up. Look at all the grownup jobs people do at home or at church. If you have a toddler, a pre-schooler, an elementary aged child, a pre-teen, or a teen by your side - what can they do to help?

Maybe they won't do it the way you do. If you're not hounding them all the time and you make sure you praise them for details well done, you can correct and adjust when you need to. Just don't discourage them. Be grateful.

Pair older people with younger people. What about pairing people who can't hear well with younger children - or children who like to talk loud. You'd have to train these young ear-pieces. (Not during worship but maybe for the before or after fellowshipping.) It can still be too loud but you get the idea. What do older people find hard that little people can do for them? Bending over? Picking things up off the floor?

As I say, you get the idea. Use your imagination!

* Interesting to read this passage in context, thinking about work. It seems a contradiction but apparently it isn't. And there's Romans 12:1. Again, go back and read the passage in context (the whole chapter) thinking, not just about spiritual gifts but about the physical work we do with our bodies - our spiritual service of worship. Then bring children into the picture and see what God will show you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Toddlers serving

Whether you support Heifer International or not, there is a tiny article in the most recent issue about 2 & 3 year olds in TX (and their parents) helping to dig up sweet potatoes for local food banks. Yes, the children have shovels in hand. They are doing the work of digging up the sweet potatoes.

I thought, what a great example of meaningful work, meaningful* service for some very little people. Not just meaningful for the recipients of the food but for the children and because they are working with their parents they are growing that relationship. Because they are working with other families they are growing friendships and a sense of community among themselves and a sense of giving to a much larger, even marginalized community beyond themselves. And hey, guess what! They are also growing a relationship with the natural God - created world: the outdoors, the ground, air & weather, plants, probably insects and animals, too. How cool is that?

And frankly, if you back up a little, children that small can help with planting, watering and weeding, too. Lots of experiential concrete learning going on digging in the dirt, lol!!

*Is this "meaningful" the same as what is meaningful to someone 20, 30, 40 or 50? No, but tiny meaning-filled seeds are growing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TCITB: Chpt 16 "...Child in the Midst..."

from TCITB
Chapter 16 "'He Placed a Little Child in the Midst": Jesus, the Kingdom, and Children
by Keith J. White

Mr White explores the Gospel of Matthew in light of the child that Jesus placed in their midst. [TCITB p. 355] He finds ". . . some of the most significant child-related actions and teachings of Jesus" in Matthew 18:1-14. Jesus talks about greatness in His kingdom, child-likeness, welcoming children, God not wanting any to be lost. The author says, ". . . Jesus freely and deliberately chooses a little child as a way of challenging and illuminating the disciples' theological "discussion" or "argument" about the kingdom [TCITB p. 353] Given all the other possible types of people Jesus could have chosen to place in their midst as examples, the author sees children as, among other things, a source of hope.[TCITB p. 354]

Jesus placed a child in their midst. The author asks, what does this mean? He asks whether this act of placing a child in their midst was a running theme or the exception. He says, "The placing of a child in the midst of a theological discussion also prompts questions about one of the central and continuous themes in Matthew's Gospel: the kingdom of heaven." [TCITB p. 354] His footnotes about distinguishing between church and the kingdom of God are worth reading. [TCITB p. 354-5] This chapter is full of detail worth pondering.

The author notes that Matthew's Gospel opens with a child in the center of God's narrative. Matthew 1-2 focuses on Jesus' lineage and childhood. Prophetic scriptures from the Old Testament are fulfilled on many levels through the birth of this child. Even more significant, the author says, "his birth story is also an account of God placing a child, His beloved Son, at the center of history" - in our midst, as it was. [TCITB p 358] The author tells us Jesus came with a promise about what he would become but about the child Jesus placed in their midst he says, "no promise about what he will become in adulthood is attached." [TCITB p. 359] Still, Jesus used that child to make a point.

Mr. White journeys from birth narrative to John the Baptist, Jesus, and their proclamation of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. He looks at the significance of placing a child in their midst in the context the other stories in Matthew. Jesus, the Beloved Son, is baptized and Mr. White says, "the kingdom is not only near but is revealed in and through his person." [TCITB p. 359]

Mr. White sees "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matt 6:33) as the theme of Matt 5:1-7:29. Like other contributors to TCITB, White sees Jesus' Sermon on the Mount highlighting "a reversal of expected roles and experiences. . . ." He reminds us that young children don't store up treasure on earth. They don't worry about tomorrow. He says, in the Lord's prayer "'Our Father...' assumes we are children of a heavenly Father." In footnotes he references learning to say "abba" again and explores Matthew's references to physical children and use of metaphor. [TCITB p. 360] White fills this chapter with insights showing us that the individual references to children are perhaps less significant than the ways that Jesus (and God the Father) are using children to reveal a much bigger picture.

White's discussion of Matt. 11: 25-26 and Peter is worth reading. [TCITB p 361-2] He notes that children "become a key sign of the kingdom after the Transfiguration as Jesus sets his face towards Jerusalem (Matt. 17:14-21:16). He notes that ". . . coming down from the mountain Jesus finds a boy suffering from seizures" [TCITB p. 363-4] He looks at Jesus' journey, His teachings about the kingdom, and His references to children in context of one another. He points out details that make the Matthew story of Jesus placing a child in their midst distinct from the same story in the other Gospels. He makes some wonderful observations. [TCITB p. 364-7]

Something to chew on from a footnote: ". . . one fruitful line of inquiry concerns the congruity between the kingdom of heaven, which is both 'now and not yet,' and children , who are also fully human and yet still in the process of becoming mature adults." [TCITB p. 367]

Mr. White begins his discussion of the last seven chapters of Matthew in light of his previous observations saying, "...the grain of mustard seed is falling to the ground. The time for teaching is over: the pivotal crisis on the way toward the realization of all that this kingdom is and means has arrived." [TCITB p. 369] White says, "From the time Jesus began to teach his disciples about the fact that the Son of Man must suffer and die, the presence of children as signs of the kingdom can be detected." The author elaborates in poignant terms [TCITB p. 369] a much needed description of the kingdom of God. [TCITB p.370]

He summarizes and then concludes having shown us that "children are in a real sense" [not just as metaphor] "God's language in and through which he reveals his true nature and therefore the nature of His kingdom." [TCITB p. 373] He elaborates.

Considering all the authors of this book are used to writing scholarly articles, some chapters are easier to read than others. This is one of the easier chapters to read.

So, my daughter asked, "Mom, how long have you been reading that book? You were reading it when I started college."

"Last September?" Hopefully not September '07 . . .

Two chapters left. I will try to finish before she goes back in four weeks! Two chapters, three posts left...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Time and Timelines

Somebody googled "Crafts for Mark".

I'm looking at Mark 1. A prophesy. What do you do with that for children? I like time lines.

You can probably start with a child's own life when they're old enough to have memories. Kindergarten/1st Grade. Do something with seasons. Add the special things you do in class.

Use giant calendar pages with photos of special things that happen in class during your Sunday School year.

Make a visual time line of Bible stories for the wall to give kids a sense of the big picture. Leave space for the future.

Photo albums are, in a sense, visual time lines in a book. Draw pictures of the Bible stories you tell to make a "photo album" for God's family.

Create your time lines with photos or pictures instead of words, even for older kids. Maybe you want pictures of Bible story time and place or symbols instead of images of specific people given we don't know what they looked like. I leave that to your imagination.

Use individual picture of individual stories to place strategically around your room or use a long piece of shelf paper the way you would for a mural. Divide it into suitable time spans (bc and ad - sorry I'm still old school) so they fit around your room.

Make a time line of a child's own life. Add Mom and Dad. Add Grandma and Grandpa or friends the same age as parents and grandparents. Add Jesus. Then put Isaiah and his prophecy on the time line.

If you leave it up all year you can put a picture of each story you read on the time line. If you have the same basic time line for each classroom you can give the child, your church, Jesus, each Bible story and character a visual place in time over the course of your whole curriculum. The whole time line is like looking faraway without a telephoto lens. A child's life, the life of Jesus, the life of David are close-ups.

Something to play with.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

TCITB: Chpt 15 Child Characters

from TCITB

Chapter 15: Child Characters in Biblical Narratives: The Young David (1 Samuel 16-17) and the Little Israelite Servant Girl (2 Kings 5:1-19)

Ester M. Menn

Ester Menn helps us see that the scriptures are full of young characters from babies to adolescents. Some play major roles, some are unnamed and overshadowed by named adult characters. She says that though there are many examples of children in the scriptures, "they are rarely the focus of biblical interpretation." [TCITB p. 324] She says minor characters are most often overlooked but even young characters who play major roles "are rarely examined in depth." They are highlighted more in children's Bibles than by Biblical scholars. She notes that even in the story of David, stories from his childhood are often seen only as "a prelude to the 'real' story of his actions as an adult king." [TCITB p. 324]

She is only examining two of these characters: David, and the servant girl of Naaman's wife. One is a major character and plays a major role through much of scripture. One is a minor character. Barely mentioned, she remains unnamed. The author commends these young people reminding us that , "both stories depict young people finding solutions to problems, intervening when adults are threatened and ineffectual, offering theological insights into God's ways, and acting within the context of international conflict and tensions between cultures and national identities. " She reminds us that these characters are only two of many. [TCITB p. 325]

Closely focusing on the roles of children in scripture, she defines children as "those who haven't yet attained full adult status." She is looking at familiar stories through a different lens, "recognizing the amazing range and depth of young characters and their essential contributions." She recognizes that "their agency, insight, and presence determine the course and outcome of many stories, whether they dominate the front stage of the narrative . . . appear briefly" or remain behind the scenes. She recognizes these child characters as the ones who often articulate the central theme of the story "[providing] a theological witness otherwise absent in the story." She speaks of their active roles as leaders and witnesses "perhaps not in spite of their youth but because of it " sharing valuable observations and comments. [TCITC p 325]

Ms. Menn describes David's influence not only in his own family but in national conflict. She describes his gifts and talents reminding us that he is developing his gifts even while watching his father's sheep alone. She draws our attention to the fact that there are a number of introductory stories about David referring to his childhood. She says, "Childhood seems to be an indispensable stage of life for pivotal characters in religious history." [TCITB p. 327]

She notes that David's absence through most of the story of his annointing as king - the youngest, the least of 8 sons - is not unusual. No one in the story notes his absence yet God does. He is God's choice. [TCITB p. 328] She reminds us that it is David's heart and God's annointing - not his appearance or experience that God sees. [TCITC p. 329]

In the course of her discussion she refers to other Biblical child characters. Speaking of David and Goliath she says, though the story is familiar "[Usually] . . . the narrative is stripped of its historical context, its territorial dimensions, and its gory details in order to render it suitable for the Sunday school curriculum." She makes some rather profound observations about the violence that followed. [TCITC p 331] She notes that in the beginning of the story, before the battle, David has tremendous responsibility doing work generally assigned to children [TCITB p 333] yet, over the course of the story David's role shifts from that of a child representing his father among adults to that of an adolescent representing God between nations. [TCITB p. 334] She draws attention to the many factors that emphasize David's immaturity [TCITB p 335] but also the benefits of his youthful strength, agility, and his childlike ingenuity finding a few suitable stones, the only ammunition he needs, in a creek bed. She makes some wonderful fresh observations from this oft-read story even noting qualities that would later bode badly for David. [TCITB p 339]

She examines David the Shepherd, further exploring her comment, "Shepherding is a metaphor for royalty in the Bible" [TCITB p 339] She talks about David the Musician. [TCITB p. 340-341] She notes various skills and sides of David, according to the scriptures, that were clearly being formed in him even as a youth - skills, experience, and character but adds ". . . childhood involves much more than preparation for adult occupations. The activities and accomplishments of a young person can be taken as an achievement and an end in themselves." The scriptures show us the accomplishments of a child being formed and later an adult living out that which was formed in him as a child. [TCITB p. 342]

The second character Ms. Menn explores in depth is the little Israelite girl servant of Namaan's wife. It's interesting that this child knew about the prophet in Samaria. It's interesting that she was brave enough to suggest him to her master and mistress. How would a child know this? What kind of courage or relationship did she have with her owners that gave her the freedom to make suggestion about something so serious? What kind of caring? Ms Menn tells us that she appears only once and speaks only one line. She is referenced in only three verses. "Her small role matches her insignificance as a spoil of war and a house servant for the wife of the commander who defeated her people." Menn tells us her nation couldn't protect her from the enemy, she is vulnerable, yet her "words challenge the pretensions of the mighty and offer hope for healing and life." She says this is another story that God tells us contrasting that which seems big with that which seems small. She explores this contrast, delightfully highlighting the amazing influence of this female child. [TCITB p. 343] This section nicely reminds us of God's being very present caring for a "vulnerable and marginalized" child in a strange place in a time of national upheaval and war.

The author observes that the little girl's words came in the form of a wish. "If only. . ." The author paints a very clear picture of a confident little girl with great understanding and a big heart being cared for by the enemies of her people but secure enough to offer a healing solution to a grown up affliction. The author sees her so steeped in the life-giving understandings of her people that she seems to suggest this prophet of her people to her suffering master without considering any consequences except that her master be healed. [TCITB p. 344]

Ms Menn continues to capture this child's heart - a heart that crosses international borders and recognizes power. [TCITB p 344-5] She looks at how the adults acted on a little girl's suggestion and how this child-like wish for only good had international adult complications. She contrasts the power of human rulers and the power of God. [TCITB p. 345-6] She contrasts large and small, governing authorities and prophetic powers, significant fanfare and mundane. Referring to Naaman being told to dip in the Jordan seven times, the author notes that this too is "in keeping with the theme of the power of small things, exemplified also in the power of the 'little girl to recognize the healing gift of the prophet in Samaria" which might not be a big deal if the grown-ups were doing the same. Funny to think about that as simple, concrete faith- the little girl believed God. God did something very physical and very real. The author's observations are worth reading. Among them, she says, "The mighty Naaman becomes a worshiper of Israel's God through his experience of the power of small things." Speaking of small and mundane, she has a whole section about dirt. [TCITB p. 346-347]

Funny to think of faith and healing as a spoil of war because a little girl blessed the enemy of her people. [TCITB p. 348]

After sharing her observations about David and Naaman's servant girl she looks at common threads saying, "These are especially worth noting since many other stories that feature child characters in the scriptures pick up some of the same themes and develop them in distinctive ways. " [TCITB p. 349] Ms Menn shares insights and expressions of faith that perhaps we should watch for in our own children. She recognizes the vulnerability of children who find themselves involved in social and international situations. She mentions many other child characters in the scriptures. I never thought about Jacob as a runaway teen. There are many many child and youth characters to explore in the scriptures - faith-filled characters that we can learn from. She concludes citing Zechariah 4:6 - one of my favorites! [TCITB p. 350-2]

Three chapters left.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I think that's all the writing i forgot to post. Still working on TCITB Chpt 15. Coming soon!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

post script: controversial

FYI and to bring you two sides of a coin (even though coins have far more properties than two. . .) this is an article from firstjohnfourfive. It's worth reading. All of my husband's "danger" buttons would be going off, too. His are quite sensitive. I don't know enough to make a judgement.

I probably give more grace than most people I know, but years ago I was told when in doubt pray, filter it through the scriptures, talk with people older and wiser in the faith that you respect and I go back to I Cor 12:3 (NIV) "Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus be cursed,' and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." I Cor. 12:3 is found in the context of people having different spiritual gifts.

Again, I don't want to steer you wrong so you will have to draw your own conclusions. Yes, talk of "centering" prayer set off my warning buttons, too.

One of the difficulties is that in Eastern thought meditating means something different than it does here in the west. Unfortunately Eastern thought isn't what we associate with scripture though our scriptures came through an eastern culture. So let's ask how did the Hebrews meditate on God's Word? How did David pray? What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit or to "hear God?"

As I say, keep the grain, throw away the chaff...Jesus told a parable about tares and wheat. Sometimes the weeds are easy to spot. Sometimes they aren't. Thanks, firstjohnfourfive for keeping us alert!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Story Activities

Did I mention I'm cleaning out my house with the help of my young adult children. An endless task x 7 (Not some symbolic #, 7 people live here (or still have stuff here.)

I think I mentioned taking a colored Bible picture, gluing it on a piece of cardboard and cutting it into an appropriate number of pieces to make a puzzle for the age of the child doing the puzzle. Here's another.

Years ago we had some Sunday School handouts with comic book style colored pictures. At some point I cut those out and glued them to cardboard so the kids could put the story pictures in the right order to tell the story. You can use things like this as take-home activities but you can also leave them in the room to play with or as tools that the kids can use to revisit or retell the stories that you do over the course of a season or a whole year. You can lay out some of the pieces with one or two pieces missing so the kids can fill in the missing details. You can lay out the pictures and see if the kids recognize it or let them tell you the story . . . Use your imagination.

Not expensive, a little time consuming. You can also use these as crafts for older kids to make for younger children. If you have woodworkers you can glue the picture to a piece of wood to make longer lasting puzzles. If it's for educational purposes you might be ok, but in this day and age it wouldn't hurt to revisit the copyright law.

20 years later - a church in NYC - "postmodern"

This is a newsletter from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC. An example of an approach to parents, advent resources, family event calender, examples of opportunities that the church provides for families reaching out. And a book! Given that they started in 1989 I confess, I'm 20 years behind and there are probably many more in the City but I guess this ministry has blossomed and increased and born a great deal of fruit in 20 years. Found it because a long lost friend attends. On their home page you'll find out more about their children and youth ministries. They have podcasts and the pastor has written some books if you want to dig deeper.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

John 9: Thoughts and Activities

If you talk about John 9 there are lots of activities you can do with light, seeing, blindfolds, and a dark room but here are some other trails to explore as you're pondering the story:

Born blind. What would you never experience if you were born blind? What are all the things we've been seeing our entire lives that we would miss? There are activities for using just ears, or nose, or taste, or touch.

Do you know parents whose children have a physical handicap because of something they or their children did wrong? Do you know parents whose children have a physical handicap because of something they think they did wrong? Do you know parents who feel guilty but don't need to feel guilty?

Why did this bad thing happen? We all ask this at some point or another. Jesus says in this case (vs 3-5 NIV) "Neither this man nor his parents sinned . . . but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

Jesus also said, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." We spiritualize this but think about working in the daylight as opposed to working in the dark and about Jesus being the light we need to do that work. And Jesus said "we".

Jesus is the light. [light and darkness activities] We have to be able to see to work. We work when it's light, not in the dark when we can't see. Pick a task - doing a 9 piece jig saw puzzle, building a block tower...something that would be simple if you could see it. Try it in the dark. Picking up the room in the dark, ha ha ha!

Verses 6-7 are gross but what if. . . what if you spit in the dirt, made a paste, stuck it on your eyes, washed it off in some public pool or fountain because Jesus told you to and you were suddenly able to see for the first time in your life?

Most stories (this one included) lend themselves to skits. Any good story will stand on it's own simplicity but it will also have layers. God's stories have the added component that He sends us His Holy Spirit to show us things we didn't see the last time we read it.

The man was blind. He was begging. He couldn't see to work. Jesus healed him. Suddenly he could see. People noticed. Some people didn't even recognize him as the same man. The social interchange of vs 8-9 is interesting. Apparently the change was dramatic. What would change if you spent your whole life blind and unable to work and suddenly you could see?

A blind man heard Jesus and did what he said. The newly seeing man was asked and had opportunity to tell about the thing Jesus asked him to do and what happened when he did it. If some friend told you that story about a stranger, what would you say?

"He told you to do what?"

Life isn't so simple as all that. The religious leaders find out. The fact that Jesus "broke the Sabbath" to heal this man becomes an issue. Maybe begging on the Sabbath was an issue, we don't know.

This newly healed seeing man - the one everyone is talking about- is the one who has to face these religious leaders, not Jesus (the one being accused of the wrong-doing). These leaders are going to make some decision, pass some judgment, about whether or not they believe what just happened. Can you imagine being able to see for the first time and having your church leaders question whether or not your healing and the man who healed you is from God?

They're still referring to this guy, this seeing man, as the blind man. Some say, "So what you can see. This guy who healed your eyes can't be from God, he broke the Sabbath."

Other people argue. "Of course Jesus is from God, whether he broke the Sabbath or not. You can't just heal someone who was born blind so they can see unless you come from God. Sinners don't do stuff like this!" Can you hear them arguing?

So they bring in the man's parents.

"Is this your son?"


"Was he born blind?"


"How come he can see?"

"Well, we know this is our son. We know that now he can see. But we don't know why he can see. Ask him. He's of age. He can speak for himself." How old was this young man? 14? 20? 40? We don't know.

Whether or not the parents knew what happened they were afraid to come up against their religious leaders and praise Jesus for what He did for their son for fear of getting kicked out of the synagogue. Their newly seeing son might not be outcast anymore but they would be.

So the leaders come back and interrogate the man again. They say, "Give glory to God!" Simple request. The young man already told them he believed the man to be a prophet, "I don't know anything about the man who smeared the mud on my eyes. I don't know whether he was a sinner or not. I don't know whether he came from God or not. All I know is that I was blind. Now I can see." In all of our discussion about concrete, that's pretty concrete - from the blind man's perspective, anyway!

They interrogate him again. Through the whole interrogation this formerly blind young man holds his own with these presumably well-educated religious leaders. The young man asks them, "Why do you keep asking me the same things over and over do you want to believe in Him? Do you want to follow him and learn from him?"

Finally they just flat out "hurl insults" at him and flat out accuse him of being Jesus' disciple insisting that they are disciples of Moses. So the young man ends up coming to Jesus' defense, saying back to these leaders the same things they started with and they kick him out.

Jesus finds the young man but the young man doesn't recognize him. Apparently he doesn't even recognize his voice. The seeing young man expresses his desire to believe in his Healer even though he never saw who made him see. Jesus gives him opportunity.

(John 9:35-41 NIV), "Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."

Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." We circle back to blindness and guilt and sin...

There's a lot to ponder in this story. In it's simplist form, Jesus made a man see who had never been able to see in his entire life. Jesus put mud on the man's eyes and asked him to wash it off. It changed the man's life. He told people what Jesus did for him. The religious leaders gave him a hard time but the man was honest about what he knew and what he didn't know. And he could see. Face to face with Jesus,he gave God the glory. The more complicated version, Jesus did this on the Sabbath. When the man went to share what happened with the religious leaders they worked very hard to discredit him. They even brought in the man's parents who were afraid to stand up for their son or what Jesus did. Maybe they really didn't know what had happened. By the end of the story, Jesus responded to the Pharisees taking it to yet another level asking who has the right to pass judgment, who is blind, who can see? Who is guilty of what? I guess I never noticed how it all circled back around.

Taking God's stories in their simplist form for the simplist listeners will grow faith. Taking that story with more and more of its detail to more experienced listeners will grow more faith...Ideally, anyway ...

You can follow where their questions and comments lead. And you can ask them: "What can we do to help us remember this story and what Jesus did?" What kind of materials would you need on hand to give kids with different interests and skills opportunity to create projects of their own design to help them remember the stories?