Saturday, August 17, 2013

Abstract Words We Take Granted

This morning at breakfast, my dad (a faithful Protestant church-goer for 85 years) asked,"what's the difference between grace and mercy? Are they the same? Both my parents have been active in their churches for their entire lives. So we looked up the meanings in my sister's AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Noah Webster 1828.

When we read "mercy" - "tenderness" I got thinking about this blog and the early posts about giving kids "concrete" understanding of some of the words we take for granted, words that we need to have first hand experience with if we're to understand the scriptures (sheep, grape vines, stars...). Such nouns are multiple-sensory concrete words - multi-sensory associations if we've interacted with the real thing.

What about words like "grace" and "mercy"? Where in life, outside of church, will a child ever hear or use those words? How do we give them concrete meaning and association? Where are the stories of scripture that give them meaning? (Moses-humility, David-man after God's heart). Where are the pictures of what those "religious" words mean?

First, look up the definition. Read the stories of scripture that use those words. Then watch for them in real life! Did you ever see a child express mercy to another child? A kitten? A parent? Did you ever see "grace"? What other words do we rarely see in the "real" world?

Dogs aren't kids, kids aren't dogs but we teach a dog what a word means by attaching the word to the doing of the word. When you see it, name it! It's not about Suzie or Johnny doing this wonderful deed. Did you see grace when Will forgave Chloe for hitting him and invited her to his birthday party? Did you see mercy when Jamie brought us the first aid kit and held Ty's hand while we doctored his cut?

Pick one of those essential-to-the-faith-because-it-is-the-nature-of-God words and go looking for it. When you see it, name it and show it to a child.

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