Monday, August 31, 2009

Activity ideas at Emerging Kids

Most of my rambling posts about activities are more about possibilities than take home projects...but in a nutshell (and I think this applies to every age):

Tell or read God's stories.

What concrete parts of the story can kids relate to? How can you help with that?

Depending on the age you're working with, do you need the big picture of the story or more details. I can get bogged down with details and miss the simple big picture. But both are important depending on the age and the individuals you're working with.

With all the different translations and personal differences, how do you handle God's Word as more than just a story like every other story?

How do you give the Holy Spirit room to work?

Each of us loves and remembers different kinds of learning activities. Think about the specific kids you have. What can you do with children to help them interact with the story so they take away more than a throw-away project? What can you do with children to help them remember the story?

How can you assess what each of your kids took away from the story? Is that important?

2 Tim 3:15 talks about the scriptures. I assume it includes God's stories.

Monday, August 24, 2009

a little sidetracked...

Started looking at the things that Jesus said to the 12 disciples. Got distracted when I read Matthew 10:42. Does that mean little ones were there, too?

So then I decided to look up "little ones." (A different word study than "child" or "children"). This word study list is from "" Does it mean there were little ones there? And what about all those other places that weren't neccessarily about children where that same word "little" was used? It's just interesting.

Then all those references made me think of Zechariah 4:10. I looked up the NAS cross references but then I was curious about that word and what other passages in the OT used the same word. Promises, warnings, (often inclusive & impartial) stories (including David, the little girl in the story of Naaman, the little boy who went with David to meet Jonathan, references to younger and youngest ) .

It's just interesting.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Naaman's servant girl activity

with typical pondering and rambling.... This is a story you could have fun acting out or doing with puppets. Let the kids make the puppets and do the show.

You could also use dolls and water and play the story.

You can do some research before you start about the disease, the two armies and why they were fighting. . .

When you tell Bible stories about war and soldiers remember kids from families in the armed services may connect to these stories in ways that other kids don't.

What is leprosy? What does it look like? What does it feel like? Remember concrete and sensory with children. In Israel lepers were outcast. They had no friends? The only people they could be friends with were sick like them? Do you know kids in situations like that?

I find it interesting that the Samaritans were considered lesser Jews or out of the mainstream when Jesus walked but this prophet, Elisha, was in Samaria and Naaman was healed there.

Naaman is the commander of a major army. But he has a horrible disease that has no cure. Imagine taking orders from someone with leprosy - someone who is ugly with disease. He is a soldier. A valiant soldier! A well-respected, honored man with a disease. And it says, the Lord had given victory through him.

Somehow being captured by a "band" of soldiers sounds more like thievery than war. In a sense, the little girl is kidnapped but she ends up in the home of a commander. Given the value (or lack of value) of children, particularly the children of enemies, was that typical? It seems God took especially good care of her.

This little girl knows her master is sick. She has access to her mistress. She knows who the prophet of her own people is. She knows that he makes people better. She could stay silent and withdrawn but she shares this information with her mistress. She is compassionate. She is brave. Her mistress listens to her!! If your kids were put into a situation like this, would they speak up? Would they know or volunteer someone who heals impossible situations?

I imagine the next thing she is aware of is the return of her master and the stories he tells. He comes home healed! Something amazing happens to him. Is she surprised? We don't know. Maybe he tells the story of what happened. He got angry but he did what the crazy man said. He took lots of treasure to pay the man but all it cost him was his pride.

And now he would worship the God of Israel! Did this simple act of faith and unusual chain of events unlock a door for the child to worship the God of her fathers with her foreign master's family instead of being forced to worship a foreign god?

And what's with the dirt?

If you work with grown-ups, teens or pre-teens consider looking at the story from the perspective of the different people in the story. What would they know first hand and what would they not know? What would they see and hear? You can look at it from the child's perspective, the wife's, Naaman's, one of the men who went with Namaan, Elijah's.

Visit a polluted body of water and imagine washing there and watching all of the sores or discoloration on your body miraculously disappear. Today we think about pollution causing sores and disease. God worked a miracle for an enemy of His people and used a little girl forced to serve them to do it.

Take a 1/2 sheet of white paper and a piece of blue cellophane* or blue paper the same size. Tape the blue sheet over the paper, taping just the sides. Leave the top and bottom open. Create a template of Naaman (front and back) to color, cut, and glue together so it can sit on a craft stick- a two-sided stick puppet of Naaman. Don't attach it so it's easy to slide the figure on and off the stick. Make two puppets - two Naamans- one is sick, one is not. Hide the healed Naaman in the blue cellophane envelope. Sick Naaman goes into the water behind the blue cellophane. (Slip the stick out of one puppet and into the other one.) Healed Naaman comes out.

With younger kids the cellophane will tear easily. You could also do it with two sculpy Naamans or two laminated Naamans in a tub of water.

The usual focus of the story is Naaman. But what about the little girl's story? Can you divide your class into small groups of 4-5 and let them pretend. The soldiers take the little girl. She goes to a strange house. She sees that her master is sick and tells her mistress about the prophet. Naaman goes off to Elijah. He comes home and tells them the story.

Do you want a take home craft project or something to do that will allow your kids to jump into a story about a child and her faith in God? Consider taking photos or video of the non-paper/pencil activities that you do. If your families have computers save the pictures on CD and send copies home with your children at the end of the year. If it's not in your budget maybe each child can bring in a blank CD.

*blue cellophane is fairly brittle. It's a pain in the neck to work with. Pre-cut the pieces and place them in a manila folder under something heavy to keep the pieces flat until you need them. Using sharp scissors or a rotary cutter helps. It tears easily. Cut extras.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Resources 8-09

If The Child in the Bible peeked your curiosity or got you pondering check out The Child Theology Movement"

Also check out Dwellingwell.

Another blog and an interesting question to think about. What can CM provide to kids that parents can't? If it's no longer the latest post, it's probably there somewhere.

John 6: Jesus the Bread of Life

So three parts of the same story. This is the third part - the long part of the story. Bread, eating, even being healed are all pretty concrete. Food and hospitality, Jesus' hospitality - another topic. How do kids feel when they're sick or hungry? How does that affect how they think? What they do?

I think bread used to mean more to people than it does to most of us today. Bread means more to you when you need it to survive. When you make your own bread day after day (think time and resources) - it's apt to mean more than buying a loaf of white bread in the store. Grinding the grain, harvesting the grain. Sights, smells, sounds, the touch of the dry grain grass or the floury dough, kneading, the smell of bread baking. Bread and grain-picking, grinding, dirt, sweat, making bread, baking bread, eating bread . . . Jesus - Bread of Life.

Activity: You can show the kids each part of the bread making process (grain to finished loaf) while a loaf is baking in the oven. Then you can eat it. That's the very best thing to do with a bread lesson.

The crowd finds Jesus on the other side of the lake, wondering how he got there. Miracles and full bellies - very physical needs being met. Jesus tells the people that they aren't following him for the miracles but because he fed them. He was a spiritual teacher meeting physical needs. The spiritual and physical of miracles - another topic.

Somehow even though they followed Him and wanted to make him king, they wanted to know how to obey - Jesus would later in this chapter tell them they really don't believe in Him.

Bread keeps you alive and healthy. Traditionally, it's a staple. You eat it, it's gone but it keeps you alive. It costs money.

Jesus told them, "27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." What does that look like for grown-ups? What does that look like for children? Working for food. You don't work, you don't eat. Working for food that would endure to eternal life, food that Jesus gives you like the bread he passed out. Jesus is talking about working for a food that will never go bad. . . food, sustenance that endures to eternal life. It will never spoil . . .The bread God is offering is, in fact, Jesus. God puts His seal of approval on this food, this bread, Jesus. God's seal of approval. That's pretty cool. Activity ideas?

The miracles Jesus accomplished were very concrete - healing bodies - feeding bodies.

28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Tell us what to do!

29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." Work that children can do?

The people were connecting Jesus and the bread with Moses and the manna. Scripture. The stories of scripture. They ask, Are we understanding you, Lord? The people even say, "Lord, we want this bread you're talking about." They even quote scripture. But apparently they don't understand. Jesus points them back to the Father.

Jesus says in vs 35 "I am the bread of life." Here is a promise for you no matter how old you are: "He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Maybe the passages later in this chapter are for an older audience but there were probably children in the crowd while all this is going on. Kids who are never hungry? Kids who are never thirsty? Think about it! Activity: Songs are great for remembering scripture. Activity: When we pray can we humbly remind God and say, "Lord, You promised."

After all that Jesus said, after all the people experienced, after all that the people seem to understand Jesus says, "and still you do not believe." A humbling part of this story.

Another promise for grown-up and child. Jesus said, 37"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." Hey! Jesus did that! 5000 hungry people came to Jesus and He didn't chase them away!

When we ask children to obey, do we use Jesus as an example? 38"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. [But here's the clincher]. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." Another promise. A picture of God's caring? A picture of the work Jesus came to do? A picture of what obeying meant to Jesus?

And people start grumbling!! Why? 42They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" How can this man say, "God sent me." Sometimes we know people so well that we can't see or appreciate God moving and using them.

Verses 43-51, more promises.

Then it gets hard. Did these words make people think of the Jewish meat sacrifices? I don't know. Were there other things going on in the culture that might have caused a reference like this to turn them off? I don't know. If you had no experience with church, if you had no experience with communion, would Jesus' words turn you off? Lots here about bread. Lots here about Jesus - the bread sent from heaven.

We talk about concrete? Jesus seemed to be asking these people to take Him very very literally. They had eaten real bread and been healed of real diseases. And now He's speaking in the synagogue telling them they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood? This was before the days of communion as we know it. (I'm rushing through this. Feel free to go back and slow down and ponder.)

If they weren't already confused Jesus says "'Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! [another miracle] 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. [wasn't Jesus just talking about flesh?] The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, 'This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.'" Do we focus on some kind of predestination that says either we're chosen or we're not? God helps us see or He doesn't? That might be true. But isn't it also true that God enables us to come to Jesus and Jesus enables us to come to the Father? We can focus on that. I hope it's safe to say that even though He knows who will come and who won't, He wants us.

People left. No, not just "people left." The scriptures tell us, "many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." Jesus says,

67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. " This next part is one of my favorite passages:

68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

This part is hard:

70Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"

But you know what? Even knowing what Jesus knew, He kept Judas in his group of close followers. Judas had a role to play that most of us would never want to play. Jesus kept him as one of the Twelve. Activity: As a grownup or with a group of teens consider a word study about Judas. Every time you read a passage about Jesus addressing all 12 of His disciples or places where all Twelve were there listening, remember that any inclusive words Jesus spoke would have included Judas. See what you find. Wasn't he at that Passover meal eating the bread of Jesus' body and drinking the wine of his blood?

Lots to chew on. . . I mean, ponder. There are things in scripture we can easily bring to children. There are other things that we have to ponder ourselves and let them work deep in our own lives.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the amazing work He does to us, for us, and in us and those we love.

from John 6: Jesus walks on the water

This is part of the same story John 6:16-24

Given that the people around Jesus were fishermen, we assume they knew that boats float but the scriptures tell us Jesus walked on the water. Mosquitoes and skimmers walk on the water. People don't. Activity: So you have water insect activities or floating activities you could use but the point is that people don't walk on water. Jesus did.

I taught swimming for a few years including water babies and preschool when there was only one book out there. Activity: A lot of kids are afraid of the water. What can you do with that?

Activity: How big was this lake? Like an Upstate NY Finger Lake? Like a Great Lake? Like the Ocean? What sounds and sights and smells would you experience in the evening in Israel by the water? I've not been there but I've been near the water in the evening.

Activity: You could act it out.

So here's the story: the people try to take Jesus by force and he withdraws to the mountain by himself. His helpers get in a boat and start off towards a town on the other side of the water but the wind starts to blow. The waters get rough. Smell the water? Feel the wind? It's evening, probably starting to get dark and cool. If I ever rowed 3 or 3 1/2 miles, it was 20-30 years ago. How about you? Ever row or ride in a row boat? A BIG row boat? Activity: Ever think of telling Bible stories that happen by the water when you visit a lake or the ocean?

So after a day full of 5000 people, they're rowing rowing rowing, they're almost 4 miles from land, it's getting dark, the air is cool, the water is rough and they see Jesus walking towards them ON TOP of the water. In an era that still believed in miracles and the supernatural, they were terrified. When were you that afraid?

Jesus says, "It's me!" Ok. "It is I! Don't be afraid." After He says that (not before) they pull him into the boat "and immediately the boat reaches the shore where they're heading." Jesus was close enough to the other side that he could have just kept walking all the way across but He got into the boat. Interesting.

Activity: Let the kids color and cut or draw the boat, the water, the helpers, Jesus so he can walk on the water. Activity: Use toys and pretend. Activity: Create an assemblage or a diorama that the kids can play with or leave it in the foyer or on the way to the sanctuary for people to see and play with as they're coming in. Yes, water and sand are a little messy but that's ok. Do it outside. Do it on a tile or linoleum floor. Do it in the kitchen. Let the kids tell the story as they stand by their creation. Do it with real water and use cork on Jesus feet so he floats. That's cheating but it a movable interactive visual for the story.

The next day people from the day before are gathered to meet Jesus and the 12 on the far shore and they realize that there is only one boat and they never saw Jesus get into that boat on the other side. They only saw His helpers get into that boat. The people were following Jesus. Now they are looking for Jesus. He was no longer in the last place they saw Him. They don't have cars. Apparently, they came in boats to the place they saw Jesus the day before but Jesus and his helpers weren't there. So they go by boat to the other side of the lake instead of walking around the lake looking. Activity: If it took one boat to hold Jesus' disciples and there were 5000 people, imagine all the boats sailing across from Tiberius to Capernaum? What other boats might be on the water? Can you find the place on a map? What did the boats look like? What made them go? Make sail boats and blow them across a kid's pool filled with water.

You can find lots to do with a Bible story to make it more alive to kids. It doesn't have to involve pencil and paper. A pencil/ paper activity is something a child can take home to show a parent that you did something tangeable in class but such projects inevitably end up in the trash or in a box in attic. What will they take home that no one can take away from them? Something that won't end up in a trash can?

from John 6: Jesus feeding the 5000

Somebody googled activities for John 6.

In this chapter, you have a few short stories that are part of a longer story. These are just my usual observations and questions with some activity ideas thrown in. Some are questions and activities for children. Some are questions for us ponder. The simple story is that a little boy shared. Jesus took a little bit of food and fed ALOT of people but see what else you can see and respond to.

John 6:1-15

The story of Jesus feeding the 5000 is a good example of Jesus using a child in their midst - one child among a group of adults.

Andrew and Phillip take noticeably different roles in this story.

Jesus is healing people and draws a big crowd of people and they follow him. After a while Jesus and his small group of 12 disciples (students, followers, friends, helpers) retreat to the mountainside. But the 5000 people don't go away. They're still coming. Apparently the boy is there with Jesus and the 12 withdrawing to the mountainside with them. That's interesting. [kid concepts: crowd, big groups, small groups, how do we get better when we're sick, mountainside, getting away from people, wanting to be with your friends]

Jesus' first thought isn't "Make them go away. I'm tired. This is our private small group time." Jesus says, "They've been following us around all this time, they need to eat. How can we feed them?" He doesn't say, "Let's share what we have." He assumes someone will need to go somewhere and buy bread. He asks a particular disciple, "Is there a place close by where we can go and buy them enough bread to eat?"

The disciple responds, "Do you realize how much that will cost? 8 months wages wouldn't be enough money." 8 months' wages for one or for 12? We don't know. [kid concepts: cost of feeding people, sharing even when there's only a little bit to share, Jesus' ability to increase and multiply whatever we're willing to give.] It's interesting that Jesus doesn't just feed everyone miraculously without talking about buying bread. It's interesting that He isn't the one who points to the child and turns that food into food for the crowd. It's also interesting that Jesus doesn't tell the crowd they have to be saved before he feeds them.

So the little boy is the hero. We could say this little boy isn't thinking about money or strategic details - he offers Jesus and his helpers what he has. We could. But wait, I always thought the little boy volunteered but it doesn't say that. In this version of the story Andrew volunteers the boy asking, "How far will this go?" Was the little boy carrying food for Andrew? For the disciples? I'm thinking 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish was alot of food for one boy to be carrying around all day for himself. But we don't know.

So you have a mountainside, a grassy place to sit and eat barley bread, and (I assume dried) fish. Activity: Did you ever eat loaves of barley bread and dried fish on a mountainside by a huge lake? Places to go. Foods to try!

You have Jesus starting with not enough for everyone and as they pass the food around no one is left hungry and there are leftovers. Something to try - not because Jesus will multiply it for your class (though He might). Activity: Talk about how much is enough food for your class? How much is enough with leftovers? Start with food that the kids are used to eating - an amount that doesn't seem like enough and start dividing it up and passing it out. When you're done is everyone full? Do you have leftovers? What did Jesus do?

Activity: Do you have a picture of 12 people? Do you have a picture of 5000 people? Have the kids been to a gathering of 5000 people? What if they were all hungry at the end of a day. What if the pastor looked at you and said, "Let's feed all these people. Where can we buy bread?" And someone said, "Here is a child with a bag lunch. How far will that go?"

8 month's pay. How much money would that be for most of the people in your congregation? Would it buy bread for 5000 people? Do you think Jesus carried 8 month's wages around in his pocket so he could just buy bread for 5000 people if they happened along? Activity: How much allowance does a child in your class get? How much will she have in a month? In 8 months? How many children will it feed?

Activity: Let each child draw and color 5 small loaves of bread to scale and 2 small fishes or use a template. Give each child a pair of scissors. Let the kids cut them up to feed as many people as they can. Or use real food! How many pieces will you have? How big? How many children will they feed? Will the people have enough to eat or do you think they will be hungry?

When everyone had enough to eat, these men (Jesus' helpers) gathered up all the leftovers in 12 baskets (each helper had a basket?). First, there were leftovers implying that everyone was full. Do you have kids who don't know what it is to eat 'til they're full? Second, they collected the leftovers. They didn't waste any of the food. It seems, they had more food leftover than they started with. Activity: Do you throw away food in your class? What can you do with it? Did you ever cook a meal and have more leftovers than the amount of food you started with?

Activity: If your kids like math . . . it looks like Jesus did something outside basic math. If you take a piece of paper or a pita bread and cut it up into 8 pieces is it the same amount of paper as what you started with? Usually - but not in this story.

For us grown-ups the end of the story is quite interesting. Jesus healed people. Jesus fed people. Miracles! The people proclaim Jesus as the prophet sent by God. God's prophesy fullfilled! Wasn't that true? Wasn't that what God wanted people to understand - for people to see Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah? Small complication: the Romans are in charge. Still, the people say, "Let's make Jesus our king!" 5000 people saying, "Let's force Him to be our king?" Whoa! Activity: You could act it out.

But Jesus withdrew to a mountain by himself. Jesus went off by himself more than once in the gospels. Activity: Talk about alone time with the kids. What? When? Where? Why? How do you like to be alone? Why is it good to get away by yourself? Is there a safe place for you (the child) to go when you want to be alone? Do parents understand that kids need alone time? Do children understand that sometimes adults need alone time?

Lots to do with this story. You won't be able to do all of this in one lesson. But you may find that one class takes the story in one direction, another class may follow the story in another direction. Tell the story. See what kinds of questions, comments, observations come from your children.

And this is only the first part!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tools for change

Every time I read a book like this the overwhelming question is, "What do I do with this? How do I need to change? Now what?"

What do we do with a book like this? Do we put it on the shelf and dust it off 5-10 years from now and say, "That was a great book!" or can we use it as an agent for change to better align ourselves with what the scriptures say and what God requires of us? How can we use this to better reflect the God we serve?

The only way books like this will change us is for people, particularly groups of people working with children, to examine our own thoughts and attitudes in light of the thoughts and ideas we find in the scriptures. Hopefully, we change how we think and ultimately how we act to better reflect Godly, Christ-like, scriptural attitudes, and understanding. Books like this deserve groups of parents, seminar students, ministry professionals, and caring community members taking 18 chapters worth of time to read, ponder, and talk about the thoughts, ideas, and implications that these authors share. Especially if you have a thinking, reading community. Some of it is dense reading but most of it is pretty straightforward. Hey! Jenny leaves to go back to school today and I've finished the book!

One person is one person. One person is only the beginning. It takes wise leadership and it takes one community after another to change church society and culture and ultimately the larger community. Social gospel, social change? Maybe, but if it better reflects the nature of God and as a result more people turn to Him, isn't that a good thing? Which comes first, individuals changing or changes in administration/leadership? We serve a God who requires us to do, not just know - as individuals and as organizations. Whether or not we know and what we know is reflected in the choices we make and in our actions.

I think that when we see our attitudes and actions in conflict with the scriptures either as individuals or as an institution and we try to express or explain the things we need to change to someone else, one of the biggest challenges is not just convincing others but using language that cuts through the understandings and perceptions that put our listeners on the defensive, language that cuts through all the understandings that keep them from hearing.

I can read through this book (or the scriptures) and say, why is this so different from what I already know or what I'm already doing? Or I can read through this and see very distinct differences. Maybe some of it is timing and the work of the Holy Spirit but in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 Paul talks about words. This whole post-modern generation (maybe every generation) struggles with definitions - language- to show differences, neccessary changes in our cultural thinking to hopefully better reflect the God we serve. At the same time we use care with our language when we want to focus, not on the differences, but on the faith we share.

Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun so maybe it's not trying to unveil something new but to keep returning to something very very old and helping people see and hear Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through His Word.

May Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glorified generation after generation and give us grace and wisdom to hear His Word and do His will.

TCITB: Chpt 18:

from TCITB

Chapter 18
"Vulnerable Children, Divine Passion, and Human Obligation

by Walter Brueggemann

Brueggemann greets the reader with imagery of the she - bear of scripture (2 Sam. 17:8, Proverbs 17:12, Hosea 13:8) passionately poised to protect her young. He reminds us that God is like that. [TCITB p. 399-400].

He talks about nurturing our own young, generation after generation, with that same passion in the face of the ever-present temptations to take much easier cultural paths. It's easy to forget that, as he says, these paths are mediocre alternatives compared to the one that calls us to maintain our God-given identity and hold fast to much richer deeper memories, heritage (or tradition), and hope that we share following the Way of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

He cites Exodus 12-13. He talks about the Passover celebration as a tool for recognizing that we are part of an "odd" community, a tool that helps impart not only the understanding that we are different but it is also a tool to share identity and worth with children. It gives parents opportunity to share not only what God did for Israel past but for "me," the parent. He talks about redemption in light of God-given value using examples of OT redemption but not without traditional evangelical language. [TCITB p. 400-406]

He talks about the need for saturation. He talks about the tendency for uninvolved children to question and challenge what is so very personal and present for their parents but scripture (and the Passover celebration) equip us and encourage us to be ready with answers. He suggests that perhaps the approach in Exodus 12-13 more targets younger children and Deut. 6, older children. [TCITB p. 402-5]

He reminds us that God told His people, "[when you grow prosperous. . .] do not forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt..." (Deut. 6:11-12) Among some subtle and less subtle references to affluence he says, "affluence will produce amnesia: by contrast, the sons and daughters of oddness will recognize that they have been treasured." [TCITB p. 407] He says that despite "saturation nurture in oddness . . . [i]t is predictable that in this saturation nurture some impatient, nearly contemptuous teenager will ask, "what is the meaning of the decrees and the statutes and the ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?" [TCITB p. 407] He says, "Soon or late, the children of oddness must come to see that the oddness is about a demanding ethic that anticipates response to the requirements of YHWH. This community not only receives the world differently from YHWH; it also enacts the world differently in glad response to the many gifts of YHWH." [TCITB p. 408] He explains this better than I am.

He looks at Joshua 4. He talks about Israel and the stones at the Jordan. He says, "Now the community is moving stones around in the Jordan River. The narrative knows that if you move stones long enough through a complex narrative, some child will ask: 'what do these stones mean?" (Josh. 4:21) And then, once again, the adults are ready with an informed response both proclaiming the promise and acknowledging that we live by it. [TCITB p. 408-409] There is something here too to consider about story-telling and creating curiosity in children. You appreciate food more when you're hungry. I (usually) remember answers to the questions I ask better than random information.

Brueggemann says, "This entire set of transactions between parents and children represented in these three central texts is designed to inculcate the children into a particular version of reality that is rooted in miracle and that eventuates in covenantal obligation." [TCITB p. 409] This is an interesting discussion.

"With the fierce dedication of a she-bear, the parents intend to situate their children in this particular version of reality; the educational process is intense and insistent, because the life and identity of the children are at stake through this interaction, for life and identity of a particular kind are of course in jeopardy if children fall out of the lore of the family, whether by negligence, resistance, or seduction to other versions of reality." [TCITB p. 410] This is not so much a how to as it is vision and encouragement to saturate our children in that which will grow faith, identity, worth, and obligation as one of God's children.

Brueggemann talks about transition. He says, "Nurture and socialization are a process-through education, liturgy, and many forms of saturation-concerned for and contained within family and clan." The socialization process distinguishes between 'us' and 'them'. He sites Joshua 24:14-5. He says, "There is no doubt that the Old Testament expends immense energy on the 'in group'. . . Given that fact, however, it is also clear that the Old Testament, in its final form, also knows that 'the others' are on the horizon of faith and cannot be excluded from covenantal perspective." [TCITB p. 410] God is God of heaven and earth. He says, "In a contemporary society of narcissistic fear and acute self-preoccupation it is important to make the connection between familial peculiarity and a more inclusive awareness that issues in larger responsibility." He looks at how we can do that (extend our caring beyond our own circle) with the biblical passion of the she-bear. He encourages policy making focused on "protection, care and valuing that are as unconditional as the unconditional regard we know for our own children." [TCITB p. 411] Again, this is not a how-to but vision for saturating our children in a faith that will carry them through adversity to reach out and care for a world much greather than their own circle with that same passion they were raised with.

He emphasizes that children left alone without adult advocacy and protection even in our society are as vulnerable today as in ancient times. He proposes that biblical "'welfare' concerned not only food and physical safety, but also nurture in respect, dignity , and well-being" reflecting the very nature of God. [TCITB p. 412]

He cites Deuteronomy 10, Hosea 14, Psalm 10. In Psalm 68, he discusses God as father to those who by definition have no father. He notes the verbs in Psalm 146:7b-9 as powerful "doing" words and notes the people groups who benefit. [TCITB p. 415] He has a wonderful paragraph tying God's character to our obligation to do.

In the last pages of his article (and the book) Brueggemann makes a strong biblical argument in the form of cause and effect focusing on attitude adjustment that will ultimately lead to changes in our choices and actions reflecting IMO an ancient and fast disappearing "fear of the Lord'. [TCITB p. 4:16-4:20]

The author concludes showing us again how nurturing our own children and defending and caring for children who aren't our own are "elements of the same agenda." He cites Matt. 7:9-11, James 1:27, Malachi 4:5-6, John 14:18 to reinforce his point.

A nice conclusion for this book.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What did God do?

How often do we give kids opportunities to come back to class with stories about what God has done for them during the week (or just to share with you as a grown-up or with family and friends)? Does it put kids "on the spot" needlessly, does it make some kids feel more special or less special than someone else or does it grow their faith?

Sometimes it's answered prayer.

Sometimes it's just growing eyes to see or ears to hear something to be thankful for.

Sometimes you think, "Wow! Look at what God did! It could have been worse..."

Growing thankfulness without one of your kids rolling their eyes because you're thankful for EVERYTHING! and it starts to sound contrived. And we should be thankful for everything . . . but you know what I mean. There are things God does that we couldn't possibly do. There things that could've happened for any number of reasons but why not give God the glory? (even if you don't always say it out loud)

If giving and serving in secret is the name of the game. Consider keeping a box in the corner of the room (or just inside or outside the door) during the school year where kids or parents can drop a piece of paper with a way they've blessed or been blessed by someone (no names) - something they've found particularly meaningful. Near the end of the term (maybe those last weeks before summer break) read a few at the end of each class or let the kids pull one out and read it. Maybe you'll want to do it more often than that. Use them as a worship tool for praise. Use them to inspire those random (secret) acts of kindness. The scriptures have told us for generations to remember what God does and praise Him.

more food!

You'll read the last post and think I planned this. I didn't. Saw these in my inbox from amazon this am. I've not read the books. But I was impressed by the growing variety of tools for CM out there.

The fact that there's a book of science devotions was what originally caught my eye.

Then I saw all these books using food, cooking, and tasting. You know how we talk about concrete learning and 6 senses with kids? Ok, five senses. (Maybe we are teaching with six senses but, ah, another blog post.)

Again, I haven't read them but check these out: 1, 2, 3, 4, and there are more on some of these pages.


And remember when you're making something as a lesson or craft activity you can always make extra so you have something for kids to deliver to someone else. Not sure how copyright works with this but it might be fun to give the kids opportunity to take the recipe home if they want to share the food and the story with a family member or a friend.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Do you know where your food comes from?

Went to my folks this week. A young couple is working the farm now. My girls stayed longer than I could stay and they heard this story. I thought it was rather amazing.

Apparently the young couple's 7 year old son was the only child in his small rural class who knew where their food came from - meat comes from animals, eggs come from chickens, milk comes from cows. Bread-flour-grain. Vegetables come from gardens...BECAUSE he helps his grandma in the garden and he's on the farm with his parents while they're working when he isn't in school. They probably do other things, too but they work incredibly hard to make ends meet and I'm not even sure how often ends meet. Anyway ... it's not like he read it in a book although he might have. Is this no longer critical information? Is it enough to know that our food comes from the grocery store? What does it say about our relationship with all that God has made and made available to us?

I can't seem to find it but I read somewhere a great quote. The heart of it was that Native Americans respected the land they lived on because they depended on it for their survival. Yes, they hunted. Yes, they gathered, but they didn't waste. They only used what they needed. They had a visible, tangeable, practical day to day relationship with God's creation. Anyone who lives off the land . . . and knows that their livelihood depends on it on a day to day basis learns to respect it. There's give and take.

I found the story rather amazing, especially in a very rural - once farm community - very small town. If kids in the country don't know where their food comes from I can't imagine other kids do. It was just interesting. Yes, God is creator and source of our food and all that we need but it's about understanding and respect and appreciation. It's all tied together.