Sunday, March 31, 2013

Greenville-Ephrathah 14: Mass Appeal

l'il 'phrathah needs to stay little
Easter Sunday Greenville SC newspaper lede: "Catholic Church growing fast in Upstate: Upstate Catholic population grew by 41% in past decade while largest Protestant denominations fell in members." 
Our parish brought in 28 at the Vigil: half converts, half unbaptized. That's good. Yet:
Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring Lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

Smart Kids

this post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets and Convert Journal

 as a bride adorned for her husband

1. In the March 20 class we covered this bit of Acts:

"And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul:
So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."

Every year I run a skit with a Saint Paul, a mother, a father, a deathly ill daughter, and a dishrag to show how this sort of miracle prefigures the physical aspects of sacraments. The kids have to get into the roles on the fly; and they do a good job, especially considering I don't read the verses until the skit is done. But this year Paul and the mother went beyond the usual performances. First, when the father brought the dishrag to preaching Paul, Paul just stood there with it. Sometimes Paul will vigorously handle it, or breathe on it before giving it back, which already shows what the kids have learned. But this year: nothing. I prompted, "So Paul, you gonna do anything, or just stand there while his daughter dies?" Paul says, "Uhh...should I bless it?" Well I dunno, you're God's man, not me. And he launches into a beautiful ad-libbed blessing of the rag: "Dear God, please put your healing power into this rag so the little girl can get better," and serenely hands it back to Dad. Normally during these skits the peanut gallery is yelling advice to the players, but they all shut slap up at this. Dad is absolutely sober as he carefully accepts the rag and takes it home to his wife. The mother focuses on the sick child, played by a rubber fetus on her desk. She takes the rag, and using all her 12-year-old nascent maternal instincts, softly strokes her sick daughter. After a few seconds she stops, and tucks the rag as a blanket around the baby. "So how is she?" She's all better now. The class is totally silent, plugged in, and ready to burst with thoughtful answers to a series of pointed questions that lead to conclusions about how sacraments work.

2. On March 27 we finished our Grand Catholic Tour of the Bible with the Book of Revelations; which is no surprise considering it's the last book. The whole sweep from Eden to the Fall to Jesus to the Second Coming to the New Jerusalem is recapped. The kids hear: "I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them." We compare the New Jerusalem with Eden in their sinlessness and happiness.

After class a couple of kids come up. "Hey Stratopops, we have a question: why is it called the New Jerusalem and not the New Eden?" Ehh...great question! Nobody's asked that before! I never thought about it before! Huh...well...OK: in Eden did God have a body? No, God doesn't have a body. Right, except for...? Jesus. Yes, Jesus has a body; was he in Eden? No. Right. And in the New Jerusalem will we live with the Lamb? Yes. Who is...Jesus. Yes. Were there cities in Eden? No it was just a garden. Yes, but a big garden wasn't the sort of world Jesus lived in. So maybe it's important that after the Second Coming we live in a place that's a sinless version of the world Jesus lived in the first time, so it'll be a city, not a garden. And tell me where God dwelled with the Israelites. In the Meeting Tent. Oops, I mean after the Tent. In the temple? Yes, in...Jerusalem! Yes, so maybe God doesn't want to go back to living in the Garden of Eden. Maybe he wants to live in a perfect version of Jerusalem. Is that enough of an answer? Yes, that's fine. OK, you kind of caught me by surprise. If I learn anything else about this great question I'll let y'all know."

Smart, smart kids. They are a wonder.