I absolutely love teaching. I never knew this about myself and I’m not sure how far it extends with other people’s children (although I teach 2 others in our homeschool pod and enjoy it tremendously), but I find that what I learn in and while teaching and the process of inquiry and discovery is so fullfilling.
I teach my children’s Sunday school and we generally focus on the weekly gospel – although we have been enjoying tremendously the Journey Through the Parables from the lovely ladies of Tending the Garden of our Hearts.
Sunday as we reviewed the parable of the Prodigal Son, which my two olders know quite well by now, we had a fascinating (at least I think so) realization. As we took a look at the two main figures (not the father and prodigal son as I sometimes think, but the two brothers) we realized how similar the states of their hearts were in the end of the parable to the Pharasee and the Publican whom we had just reviewed the week before. Two men – one a “sinner” yet filled with pious humility and one an obeyer of the law, a rule follower, but filled with stony pride. Maybe you all notice this juxtaposition all the time but it was a first in my almost 40 years of hearing these two well-known parables.
How great is the wisdom of our Church! The four Sundays preceding the start of Great and Holy Lent are always the same gospels meant to guide us and gird us for the start of our greatest pilgrimage of the year. More than anything else we must work now and throughout Great Lent to attain humility – focusing only on our own sins and, while striving towards God always never allowing ourselves to imagine ourselves better than others around us.
While humility may be a complex concept for children – we can always teach them and remind them to not judge others or imagine themselves better than others – believer or non-believer, one political party or another, faster reader or speller or slower, the one who got the answer right first or second, the little sibling who still doesn’t know how to write all their numbers, the bully in the storybook. We can work over and over to remind our children and ourselves that all are children of God and all are beloved by God and therefore more than worthy of our love.
If you don’t already review the weekly gospels with your children I encourage you to start. The gospels leading up to and throughout Great and Holy Lent are some of the richest of the year and by no means without significance and teaching for even the littlest of our flock. I encourage you to have them review the Gospel before listening to it in church and then encourage them to recognize parts of the now familiar story during the reading at liturgy. For those who don’t already know it Let Us Attend is an invaluable resource.
I’m so looking forward to the start of the Lenten season. I have some ideas of some activities for the kids and highly recommend the book Tending The Garden of Our Hearts from the same wonderful Orthodox women and educators quoted above – in case you don’t own it and want to order it in advance of the start of Lent. I will post again soon!
With love in Christ,