Thursday, November 05, 2009

Elisha and the Water and engaging kids

Someone was looking specifically for this story Elisha & the Bowl.

But here's the thing. Water. Water is one of those things that most of us take totally for granted. Just turn the tap on anytime, day or night, and you not only have clean water but as much water as most of us would ever need. Have you or the kids in your class ever been in a situation where the only water that you have available was bad water - undrinkable water- water that won't even make plants grow? If not, how do you bring this to children?

I'm assuming that at the time of the story, unproductive land had to do with the inability to grow food and feed livestock. The land wouldn't grow anything they could eat and they couldn't use the water. Even the springs were bad. Isn't a spring usually the place where water is most fresh and clean?

How much do you know about water? What do we use water for? Why do we need good water? Why is it important? If you want to get into the science and social studies of water there are probably interesting lessons and info to be found that might give you more to think about or activities to use. If you have someone in your congregation or community who works with community water or at keeping the water clean, you could invite a speaker.

If I have bad water, put a little salt in a bowl or take a whole bowlful of salt and throw it in bad water will the water get better? Probably not. God did something special - something He doesn't normally do. He worked a miracle. He healed the water and made it better.

What does it mean if God heals you and makes you better? Something else we take for granted with all the doctors and medicine we have available. It's a miracle when God heals us but we don't see it that way until God's miracle is the last resort.

God healed the water and Elisha promised it would never get sick again. The water would stay healthy so the land and the people could use it without worry for generations. So whatever caused it to begin with wouldn't be happening again.

It was after this story that the youths tease Elisha. Maybe the two stories have to be told together in order for the "miracle" that Elisha did calling the bears and the horrible consequences in the second story to make sense to us.

If you wanted to talk about salt, you could probably find out more about salt. If it was a whole bowl of salt - that's a deadly amount of salt for people. With older kids you could send them home with questions to think about and have them come back with the answers they find. Send one group with questions about water and one group with questions about salt. It might speed the process and engage them. What kind of bears lived in Israel thousands of years ago? How common were they? That kind of thing...

The other thing, if you know your kids, some kids would love going home and finding information to share. Some will love acting it out. Some will love bringing a science experiment about water and presenting ways we can help keep our water clean. Some would love to draw or write a poem or create a diorama or build a vehicle or a house or lead a song. Why not use the wealth of skill, talent, and personality that your kids have to learn and to worship? Why does everyone have to do the same thing? You will find that when kids are doing what they love, even if everyone is doing something different that it will get very quiet in your room and they won't want to quit. Let the group people work in groups and the individualists do their individual projects. Not to say you can't ask them to operate out of their element once in a while or more than once in a while. Can you use elements like this to reward & give meaning to kids who really don't want to be there? Make your active energetic child the game leader. Let him/her bring a game to share each week. When class goes smoothly and you finish early they get to play the game (inside or outside). Your leader may have to have a stack of 3 minute games, 10 minute games, and 15 minute games. But use your imagination!

And for all the times I forget to add this... what are you learning about God and His Word? When you finish a lesson do you know Him better than you did before? He's God! Ask the kids. What did you learn about God? See if it takes you into a worshiping place. There's always more of Him. Eternal life is to know Him. We get to start anytime. He's not just one dimensional. He's not just 2 dimensional. Enjoy all that God has created - "always giving thanks" to the God who made it.

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