Lesson on Clearness

Yesterday I taught Firstday School, to a group including one each of a 10-, 9-, 8-, 5- and 4-year-old. The subject was clearness and clearness committees, and I related the content to Rolene Walker's Walk with Earth once again.

First, we did a check-in to see if we were feeling clear or fuzzy, was the sky clear or cloudy, and if we were wearing glasses (like me), were they clear or dirty.

Second, I reviewed Rolene's walk for the beauty of the earth from San Diego to Chile, and how she wants young people to know about the goodness of earth, not just the environmental problems.

Third, we read two Bible passages:

Psalm 85 (Message)
God, you smiled on your good earth! You brought good times back to Jacob!
You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people,
you put their sins far out of sight.
You took back your sin-provoked threats,
you cooled your hot, righteous anger.
4-7 Help us again, God of our help;
don't hold a grudge against us forever.
You aren't going to keep this up, are you?
scowling and angry, year after year?
Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life?
Then your people will laugh and sing!
Show us how much you love us,
Give us the salvation we need! …
10-13 Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes!
God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.
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After reading this, the 10-y.o. girl said, "You know how sometimes when we read something, we do a skit [for the meeting]? Could we do a skit today?" I said maybe, after we read the second passage, which seemed easier to act out.
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John 9
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?"
3-5 Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."
6-7 He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said, "Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent"). The man went and washed—and saw.
8 Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, "Why, isn't this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?"
9 Others said, "It's him all right!" …
39Jesus said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind."
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We talked about this for a while. I had a revelation myself: That the people had walked past the blind man who begged daily, without ever really seeing him or acknowledging his humanity. And then Jesus healed him. That's when they saw him, as if for the first time. The people weren't even sure it was the same man, they couldn't even remember for sure what he looked like! How often do I walk past others without even seeing their humanity? How blind am I?

Next I talked about how Friends can seek help from their meetings to discern if they are really clearly being led by God to do something, or are they feeling something else. I even summarized a passage from Pacific YM Faith and Practice, which was written in my handout. I'll just include a few bits here; the full publication is online here.

On clearness and clearness committees
Sometimes members ask for help with clarifying personal problems and making decisions. Meetings usually respond to such requests for help by appointing clearness committees.

A clearness committee meets with the seeker as caring Friends, drawing on the same resources that bind the Meeting together in worship. Listening and patience are essential. All must listen not only to the person in need, but also to the movement of the Spirit.... When the individual has a strong leading toward a specific action and wants the Meeting to affirm it, the clearness committee seeks unity on whether this is indeed a leading of the Spirit.
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Walking to Chile: Where is Chile?
Here I plugged in some clip art illustrating where Chile is compared to Central America and Southern California.

Looking through Lenses
The last planned activity was to look through a few binoculars, a telescope, kaleidoscope, and magnifying glasses. The kids loved it! The four year old (almost five) really engaged at that point. The kids got a bit silly with it, but that was okay. They had been mostly great until then, and it was way more kinetic and kinesthetic than my usual activity. And anarchic! My usual activity is to draw something related to the day's topic on a big sheet of butcher paper; they actually really like doing it almost every time, but it was good to have a change of pace. (My thanks to Robin M. for the idea!)

Finally, we did practice the passage from John once more, though it was a challenge to get them to focus, and then perform it for the meeting. My 8-y.o. wanted to be the pool of Siloam; I insisted he at least be the narrator for the first half of the story too. And the 9-y.o. played the blind man; when he went to jump in Siloam (aka 8-y.o.), he yelled, "Cowabunga!" The 4-y.o. was delighted to be part of the crowd and deliver the line, "It's him alright!"

All in all, a rewarding lesson, especially for me. Thank you, God, for most this amazing day. Please help me see, help me notice, help me respond.


Liz Opp said...


I just love how you bring Scripture, Quaker practice, and God into the lives of young children, without glossing over stuff. I'm going to pass along your post to our new First Day School Committee for inspiration!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

Nancy A said...

Wow -- what I don't get is how you managed to cram all that into 50 minutes. We often just get the gluesticks and crayons out by the time we need to wrap it up!

Chris M. said...

Liz: Great! Please let me know about good lessons that come along in your worship group.

Nancy: Well, I use the trusty "In Our School Results Appear" -- a mnemonic for Introductions, Objectives, Strategies, Results, Affirmation. See this post for how I applied it another time, with more detail: http://chrismsf.blogspot.com/2007/01/lesson-on-leadings-and-callings.html.

And, I've learned to be fairly strict about distracting behaviors, while really taking time to listen to what the children have to say. It seems to be a good combination!