Hardhats on! We're building community!

Saturday night, I finally got to catch up on some blog reading (Robin M. was elsewhere), including the post over at Nancy's Apology on the November blahs. She wrote:

American author Annie Dillard says if we had any real faith, we'd wear hardhats to church/meeting—after all, we are calling on or getting in touch with the very forces of the universe. The universe might come crashing down on our heads.

The next day, Sunday morning, it was my turn to teach Firstday School. So I brought our two hardhats, one child-sized and one grownup-sized, and scooped up the one from the meeting's nursery, and put together a loose lesson....

We started with some check-in time. The four children, from 8 to 14 years old, of course wanted to know why the hardhats were on the table. I explained about the Dillard quote, and you never know when something might come crashing down.

I suggested that some Bible stories were like that—the Tower of Babel for example. One participant retold us that story. Henry said, "Or like the walls of Jericho." He was struggling to remember just exactly had happened to make the walls fall down. Fortunately, we had our Dorling Kindersley illustrated Bible on hand—two copies—and I turned to the illustration of the priests with their shofars circling the walls.

The 14-year-old in the group said he had played a shofar, and that he has played the trumpet for five years. It was great to learn something more about the rest of his life outside of meeting.

He also suggested that these events could have been written this way because, "It felt mentally or spiritually like something came crashing down on them."

Then we took turns reading the story of Solomon building the temple, 1 Kings 6, from the illustrated Bible. The book has sidebar illustrations of cedars of Lebanon, the story of God's glory filling the temple at the dedication, and something about ivory carvings of cherubim.

Two adult guests joined us—one of them was from Twin Cities Meeting, and is the childcare provider at Laughing Waters worship group. I made one of them read, too.

After that I pulled out a long piece of butcher paper and asked the children to illustrate what they think a temple should look like today. The two girls collaborated on an illustration of how the front of the temple would look, with red flowers reminiscent of the pomegranetes that really were on the Jerusalem temple.

Henry enjoyed drawing cherubim—I told him he couldn't draw dragons—and then he colored in and added to a symbol I made, of a peace sign inside a heart with a tree growing out of the top.

I left it to the group to decide if they wanted to report back to the full meeting at the end. They were totally indecisive. I asked if we should wait until we got there and felt how the spirit moved us. They agreed. When we walked in the room with our large paper, though, they couldn't resist telling about it. Henry was eager to talk about how the tree showed life sprouting up when there was love and peace; go, Henry! And three of them agreed to wear the hardhats. Someone asked, "Why are you wearing hardhats?" And one of them said, "Because, well, you just never know!"

All in all, it worked amazingly well given how little I had prepared. I am grateful to have been so blessed. Thank you, Nancy, for your post, which helped me so directly.

PS I highly recommend the children's Bible mentioned above. Author is Selina Hastings.


Anonymous said...

selina hastings was also the countess of huntingdon in the 1700's. i did not know this off the top of my head. it's just coming up when i'm doing a search. i generally love dorling kindersley stuff. sadly dk hasn't sent images to amazon so it can be searched. is it at the meetinghouse generally? i would like to look at it.

Nancy A said...


That went *so much better* than my firstday school lesson!

I had the group compare orange juice drink boxes with an empty mug to decide which was more useful. We talked about how we couldn't see what was in the drink box, but we were expected to stick in the straw and just suck it out. But the mug was more permanently useful. You just have to do more work to get something to drink with it. Then we took some oranges and squeezed them to make real orange juice to fill the mugs.

The idea was to compare "drink box" religion with "mug" religion. And "mug" religion was supposed to come out on top!

However, there was pulp in the fresh orange juice, which is apparently a type of toxic waste. And they decided after one sip that real orange juice sucked. And they took the drink boxes and, well, sucked them back.

I'm not sure what they learned. I learned not to base a children's lesson on their taste buds.

Chris M. said...

Cubbie: It's upstairs, either in the nursery or in Room 5. Also, Henry's got the miniature version of it, same content. You can ask to see his. I bet he'll like it if you do.

Nancy: Pulp is not popular at our house, either, except with me. As for the lesson: Yeah, well, I had a source of inspiration. Thanks again!

Liz Opp said...

Hey, Chris--

Two adult guests joined us—one of them was from Twin Cities Meeting, and is the childcare provider at Laughing Waters worship group.

Does this mean you met Nathanael?!? Just goes to show you how out of the loop I've been recently.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up