Words of Wisdom

Teaching our children the meaning and significance of religious terms is essential. Words have power, and misunderstanding can lead to confusion and fear that should be clarity, peace and confidence.

By Caryl W. Krueger

Categories: Easter (Passion Week), Spring/Easter

In talking with youngsters about religion, we often innocently assume that they know the real meaning of words and phrases. We ourselves are so familiar with these terms that we just toss them out and assume the idea will be understood. This was proved to me this past month when there was so much conversation in the media about the two movies that show the crucifixion. A young Sunday School boy said, "Yuck, I never knew that crucifixion could kill you!" The word "crucifixion" was familiar, but apparently it had never been explained.

Families might want to consider setting aside a time each day to share religious wisdom. I like the line from Proverbs 1:5: "A wise man (woman, child) will hear, and will increase learning." I added the words "woman" and "child" because it is so important that families work together to hear, learn, and then utilize true wisdom. Relying on one hour per week of Sunday School to oversee this kind of learning is not enough. Sunday School certainly is a catalyst for learning and teachers can encourage learning, but religious perspectives need the home support to become a natural and useful part of everyday life.

Teaching and learning religious words of wisdom doesn't need to consume an hour of arduous home instruction, either. It can occur during Bible study early in the morning, or at a special session on Saturday, or for 10 minutes each evening. I like the 10 minute idea since it involves so little time that even the busiest student/sportsman/extra-curricular kid can afford to participate. Give this activity a catchy title. Last month, on March 27 and 28, Wide World Jammy Day was celebrated. Folks everywhere showed off their PJs at parties and home events. So, you could name this precious ten minutes "Jammy Time" and all gather in your sleep wear - cozy, comfortable, and committed to this unique time together.

There are many words of wisdom you can discuss in just 10 minutes. This month includes Passover. Whatever your religion, this important Jewish celebration needs to be understood and respected. No, the word doesn't mean that the Children of Israel passed over the Red Sea. I can recall a wedding once where the Passover Seder meal was celebrated two days before the wedding, and because we were asked to take part, we learned a lot. However, in keeping with sharing religious traditions, the day after the wedding there was an Easter egg hunt complete with the reading of the story of the resurrection morn. It was a joy to see children of various backgrounds learning together.

At home, during your "Jammy Time," you can discuss many currently popular words and phrases. Due to the "Passion of the Christ" movie, kids have heard a new use for the word "passion," and that "Jesus died for our sins." Those are two issues for you to definitely talk about this month. Also, the concept that the crucifixion was the highlight of Jesus' life needs to be understood. Follow it with an explanation of the resurrection that brings the great truth of eternal life to all of us.

And speaking of movies, there is a very fine one called, "The Gospel of John." It is long and carefully follows the Gospel, but it does take the story to the glorious breakfast on the shores of the Galilean Sea. Although it shows the crucifixion, it is not focused on Jesus' suffering, but rather on his love.

Another word of wisdom is "image." Genesis 1:26 says we are made in God's image and likeness. One time my Sunday School class of four-year-olds met next to a closet with a mirrored door. So, I used the mirror to show how the likeness had to be identical to the figure in front of the mirror, likening this to us and God. The little folk spent much time trying to do something the mirror couldn't reflect until they finally understood the meaning of "image."

I'm sure you will find other terms to discuss: "spirituality" is one of the most important. An interesting one is "Lord" since many youngsters connect the word with God and erroneously think that the great New Testament prayer is named for God rather than Jesus as Lord.

Finally, I have a funny story. A grandfather was trying to explain the terms mortal and immortal to a kindergartner. He knew he was not doing a good job with these words of wisdom when he said "You are NOT mortal." The youngster burst into tears and said, "I am 'cuz when I got new pants, mamma said that I was more-tall!"