Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cenacle

Palm Sunday. This is our last day of Lent in the atrium. Today we explored the mysteries present in the reading about the Last Supper. Cenacle is a French word taken from the Latin, a word that means upper room. This material is referred to by that name. To be honest, it is the first I've ever heard it referred to by that name. Since the children are in a sensitive period for language, they will have what I had not, a better understanding of the words and the mysteries in this reading. 

The reading is taken from Mark. We do not read about the betrayal of Judas with the children. At this tender age the lesson is in the words that Jesus spoke: "This is my body, this is my blood." This is the first time Jesus spoke these words that we hear each and every Sunday during our special meal, the Mass. During the Cenacle presentation we draw attention to the special meal Jesus was sharing with his disciples, the Passover Meal. 
As the children work with this material, we hope they begin to realize that the table is set in the same way as the altar work they so love. That what they are seeing is the same as they see each week during Mass. 

We do not comment on this sameness. We allow the children to come to these realizations on their own as they are prepared to receive the gift of this special sight. All in the time of the Holy Spirit.

What I found interesting today were some comments and actions of the children. To begin with, class started late due to the length of the Palm Sunday Mass. I brought the children into the atrium in a silent procession which means they waited outside the classroom until everyone was gathered. For some it was a lengthy wait. 

For some of our children, sitting and listening is a difficult task. It was a somewhat noisy presentation. We talked about the three cities that were important in Jesus' life (Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem) and that this story took place in Jerusalem. I explained about the special meal of the Passover quickly and asked them to listen for the words Jesus spoke to his special friends, the disciples. We remembered other words Jesus spoke (I am the light, I am the Good Shepherd). 

Reading the words directly from the Bible is a challenge for many of the children. However, when I brought out the materials you see above, and began moving the disciples slowly into the upper room, the children became entranced. 

After reading the part that states Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn and then went into the garden I slowly move each of the 13 figures out of the Cenacle and onto a piece of green paper to represent the garden.

It was at this point that one child whispered, "Why is Jesus gong first?" A friend replied (in a whisper), "Because he is Jesus. He can do what he wants." Yet another child responded by saying, "Jesus always leads his friends."

From the mouths of babes. 

May we all be childlike in our responses this Easter. May your Easter be a blessed one.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The City of Jerusalem

After the lesson the children can move the pieces of the city from one map to the other.
So far this year in the atrium we have talked about the places Jesus lived while He was on this earth. One of the first presentations to the children was the land and water globe in which we looked at our whole world and saw the small red dot that pointed out Israel, the little country that God chose to have His son live.

A little while later we learned about the land of Israel by touching a relief map and placing symbols on three cities: Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. We talk about those three cities often as we learned more about Jesus' life and teaching. 

This weekend in the atrium we will continue this study of Jesus' life by sharing the city of Jerusalem material. I will talk about the walls that surrounded the city of Jerusalem, the temple where Jesus went often, the Cenacle where Jesus shared the Last Supper, the Mount of Olives where he was arrested, the buildings that he was shifted to and from during his trial, Calvary where he died and the tomb from which he rose from the dead. We finish the presentation by lighting a candle because Jesus is alive and we sing a song.

For children at this young age we keep this presentation very matter of fact. It is mostly a naming lesson. This material is used again in the level II atrium and, like many of the materials, will be expanded upon as the children are developmentally ready to build upon their prior knowledge and spiritual experience. 

As an adult in the atrium experiencing the Bible narrative for the first time using materials, I am often struck by some aspect of the story that I had never before considered. Tonight as I practiced the lesson, it occurred to me that Jesus had to walk around the city quite a bit during his trial. In his compromised physical and emotional state this must have added to the grief of this experience. I had not ever thought much about how many places he was dragged between Holy Thursday evening and Good Friday. 

So often I find my own spiritual walk deepened by the work I do with the children in the atrium. It has been such a blessing to make and work with these materials and also the children this year.