Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sticks & Stones

Yesterday we covered the week's material with about 5 minutes to spare. I never let class out more than 15 seconds early, and have little punchy lessons ready to fill in. One of the things we discuss later in the year are Sacraments, so they should understand that God can channel his grace through physical things which are not just symbols.

Tonight's quickie is based on part of 2 Kings 2:

[Elijah and Elisha] stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.

And [Elisha] saw Elijah no more. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan.... He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

I take off my jacket, roll it up, whack the floor, and first play Elijah crossing over with Elisha, then turn around and cross back over alone as Elisha.

The kids ponder these questions:

Elijah had God's favor....why didn't Elijah just pray for the river to part? Wouldn't God have listened?

Why did he hit the water with his cloak?

Elisha used the cloak to hit the water, too....was he being superstitious? Did he think the cloak was magical?

The class wasn't too sure about the right answers, which was fine; they were piqued, though, and the brains were spinning. Time to shift gears. I pull out my Moses stick, I make the kids tell me the story of the water from the rock. I hit the 'rock' (a desktop) and ask: why didn't Moses just pray for water?

Well, God told him to hit the rock.

Right. But why didn't God just make the water come out of the rock without having Moses hit it? No firm answer.....

OK, suppose Moses had just prayed quietly and God made the water flow, what would people have thought?

That it wasn't a miracle.....that's why he hit the rock! To show people, so they would know it didn't just happen!

Yes! Genius at work! Now suppose Moses decided the stick business was silly and only a symbol, and instead he just touched the rock with his hand, would that've worked?


Right....but why not? Time's running out, I give a quick answer: because God's grace worked through the stick. To see if they get it, I ask, if you have a baptism, and do all the prayers, but skip the water, are sins washed away?


Good answer, because the water is more than a symbol, and we've run 7 seconds past dismissal, so see you next week! Read chapter 9!

Salient points:

Something organized is held in reserve to fill in available time.

Props are helpful.

When the children have trouble with a line of questions, try another line that they can answer and draw conclusions from, which they can then apply to the first line. We didn't have time to come back to Elijah's cloak, but we can tidy that up in the near future.

They'll have to apply this knowledge later on to something else.

Both stories, briefly presented, can be added to & referred to for the rest of the year, e.g., Elisha & the Jordan will connect to the cleansing of Naaman (which in turn will connect to Baptism), Elijah going to heaven connects to the Transfiguration, hitting the water with the cloak connects to the parting of the Red Sea, striking the rock, etc.