Associate Director/Middle School, Youth Group Advisor
During Ordinary time, after celebrating Christmas, our 5th and 6th grade Sunday School children embark on a journey through the Gospels and the life of Jesus. For two months, they planned and constructed our annual Bible Habitat, which is their depiction of a small village in the time of Jesus. Our younger children of the church were able to interact in Jesus’ time while the makers of the Bible Habitat portrayed the villagers and the various parts of everyday village life.
We often talk about the fact that Jesus was a Jew. We want the kids to engage in these traditions as we help to form the spiritual basis of Jesus’ life. In this spirit the 5th and 6th graders, led by their Sunday School teachers, participated in a Passover Seder on a recent Sunday morning.
The kids reacted positively. They liked the matzo. The bitter herbs dipped in salt water and the horseradish, not so much! They were able to understand the imagery of these and the other symbols of the Seder. As I joined them near the end of their service, I heard many comments about their own tears brought on by the horseradish!
I’m fortunate to have been invited to Seder dinners and I reached out to my Jewish friends and their Rabbi for guidance on some closing thoughts to offer the kids. Based on their guidance, I told the kids that the reason Passover is celebrated year after year, is not only to remember the power of God who redeemed the Jewish people, our spiritual ancestors, from slavery in Egypt, but also to remember that they were slaves. As slaves, the people of that time were incapable of changing their situation on our own. Instead, they needed to rely on an outside force – God. Experiencing the bitter “taste” of slavery at the Seder table opens our hearts to the suffering that people endure in our world today, and we remember that it is up to us to act to redeem those who are in need. I suggested that even though we live lives of plenty, we can be confined by things like peer pressure and popular culture that can lead us away from God. And just like our spiritual ancestors, it is only with God’s help that we can truly free ourselves to live the lives of service and love that God wants for us.
As the hour came to an end, we closed with prayer.
Good and gracious God, we give you thanks for the traditions of the past that have brought your people through so much. We are humbled by our ancient stories and by you, our God who led our ancestors away from slavery and suffering, toward a life of love. Help us to remember that without you, our lives are small and confined but by putting you first in our lives, we can live big lives full of love and hope, the lives that you created us to live.
We thank you and give you our praise as we say together the prayer that Jesus taught to us, saying Our Father…