Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'”

During Ordinary Time we talk about the life of Jesus when he was a man. During Advent and Christmas we learned the stories about him as a baby. Today I told the children that Jesus walked all over the land of Israel. He walked and talked with his friends. He often talked about the Kingdom of God. 

I asked the children if they had any idea what this kingdom was. One student said heaven. Another said a kingdom is for royalty like princes and princesses. 

I told the children that Jesus told a story to help us understand the Kingdom of Heaven. I then read the passage from Matthew about the mustard seed. After this I handed each child a tiny mustard seed (or two, or's hard to get just one!). They noticed just how tiny they were! I then showed them a photograph of a mustard bush and told them that if you plant a mustard bush it will take over your yard!

We wondered why Jesus said the Kingdom of God was like this. How something so small can become so large.

This is a lesson that has many parts that I will share over time with the children. They love to look and see the small mustard seeds. I love this lesson because not only are the mustard seeds small but so are the children! It never ceases to grow my faith when I can see first hand how something so small (a child) is part of something so big (the Kingdom of God)!

What you can do: nurture your child's love of small things. Children notice the minutia that we often miss in our hurried lives. Take the time to look at the small things with them. Talk about how God created everything, even the smallest seed or plant or animal and how amazing it is to watch it grow. Look at the night sky and observe the moon as it changes each month or how small the stars look. Taking the time to slow down and draw yourself and your child into the natural world helps to remind us what a gift God has given.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Visit of the Magi

Today is the last Sunday of the Christmas Season. The children were somewhat surprised that it was still Christmas! The last time we were together it was Advent. During Advent we begin the lessons about Jesus' conception and birth which we call the Infancy Narratives. The last of the lessons of the Infancy Narratives is the Visit of the Magi. I decided to present this lesson today to the whole group once everyone had arrived. I read a very shortened version of the story, focusing on their travel by following the star, their joy at finding Jesus and Mary and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

We noticed that the Bible tells us Jesus is no longer in the stable but that he and Mary were found in a house. We also talked about the gifts the Magi, or kings, brought. We thought Mary and Joseph were probably glad to get the gold to help  them live since they were so far away from home.

I asked the children if kings ever came to their houses and how they would feel if they had such a visit. Most of the children said they would be really happy. One of our three year olds said he would be very happy if the king came to visit and brought him chocolate! The other children seriously agreed. 

Oh the honesty of children! I love it.

It was so good to be back with the children today. They each came into the atrium and went strait to work. I'm always amazed at how January brings some new developmental leaps for children. I see this in my regular classroom and also saw it today in the atrium. They bring such joy to the Church year.


What you can do at home: Enjoy the slowness of the seasons, both the seasons of the Church and also of nature. Notice with your child the things you see outside each day: squirrels and birds looking for food, how dark it is in the morning and at night but how this slowly changes to light, the change in the temperature and what our weather brings (snow, hopefully sometime!).

Today we celebrated with a white cloth on our prayer table. Next week we will have a different color. See if your child can guess what it will be.