Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunday School Object Lessons from Mrs. A.

Spring is (finally) at least sorta, kinda lurking out there somewhere in the great Pacific Northwest.  Mr. Golden Sun is occasionally gracing us with his presence, and even those obstreperous grey clouds are taking a cue now and again to exit stage left.  And so it will soon be time to order the caterpillars for Sunday School.

I'm a caterpillar who will not cocoon/feels like a tomb/I will not die.

For the past few years -- ever since I first heard the song at Barnabas, in fact -- I have used this line from Carolyn's "My Favourite Lie" as the springboard for one of my Kindergartners' favorite object lessons of the year: raising butterflies.

All creation sings out the glory of God, which is one reason why Christians need never to fear science.  The life cycle of the butterfly is one of those magnificent examples He has given us in His gentle, loving way to illustrate our own condition.  For, what is born as a caterpillar can certainly die as a caterpillar; but it is not meant to.  It is meant to be reborn into a butterfly -- the form in which it will spend eternity.  So, if you, like the caterpillar in the song, refuse to cocoon (or chrysalize*), you are dooming yourself to the death of a caterpillar -- namely being squashed by an eight-year-old boy between two rocks or pecked off your scrumptious leaf by a bird.  Of course, a butterfly can also be snatched mid-air by a hungry bird; but, you get to eat nectar through your proboscis and fly around with brightly-painted wings as compensation.  OK, the metaphor is getting a little cloudy here.  However, the main things that the kids remember from our adventures in butterfly rearing are: a) science is really, really cool because God made it that way, and b) look at this concrete example of what it might mean for us to be born again in Christ as a new creation!  The old caterpillar is passed away, and the butterfly has become new -- made of the same materials, but transformed.  At least, I hope that's what the kiddos take away.  Kindergartners are unfathomable. 

I am a seed that will not be broken/For the flower to open/ No, I will not die.

The next line in the song is another great object lesson along the same lines.  Luckily, my classroom has a grand and glorious twenty-foot window ledge, on which many a growing thing can receive sufficient sunlight to bloom.  So, into their individual pots my munchkies will plant their flower seeds.  Hopefully, not one of those will prove as recalcitrant as the song's, and we will get a bevy of blossoms.

Alack, alas, Carolyn has penned no line relating to the life cycle of a frog; I had to come up with that object lesson on my own.  Of course, that is just another example from nature of how God takes living things and transforms them into what they are supposed to be.  Again, many die as tadpoles; but, they were created to be frogs.  In any event, the children love to watch the little legs come peeping out while the fishy tail shrinks into nothingness.  Frogs are pretty darn amazing!

So, many thanks to Mrs. A. for helping me form my spring curriculum.  What a grand time of year this is!  God is so good to us.

*"Chrysalize" is, according to my OED, a nonce word; however, we really ought to use it often and bring it into the general English lexicon, don't you agree?  Otherwise, the way to describe a caterpillar's going into his intermediate pupal stage is just too wordy.