We had some more children in church today from the local primary school for day three of our Experience Christmas program. We had three classes, two of which were the Reception classes (4 and 5 yr olds) and Y1 (the 5 and 6yr olds). If I thought yesterday was funny with the questions and comments they came out with, today was absolutely BRILLIANT.
You know what little kids are like, they repeat everything you say don’t they? We had already told them the bare bones of the Christmas story – you know, there was a girl called Mary who was visited by an angel who told her she was going to have a baby from God. Then Joseph took her to Bethlehem where baby Jesus was born in a stable and was visited by 3 wise men and some shepherds, who the angels had appeared to to tell them he was there. That version? Dead simple, but the kids…oh boy!
When Eddie was telling them the story he got on of the little girls out to be “Mary” and when he asked her her name, she said “Mary”. So he said “no, really, what’s your name?” and she said “Mary!”. He said “blimey, she’s good at this isn’t she? No love it’s ok, tell me your name!” and she said “Mary!!!!”. One of the teachers eventually piped up…”Yes, she really IS called Mary!”. We fell about laughing, and then when he said that the angel came to her with some news and she was afraid – “be afraid Mary” he instructed her – and bless her little heart, her hands flew up to her face and she gave a very creditable impression of Munch’s The Scream. Absolutely brilliant!!
Later on, the group of kids was being told about the 3 wise men, and Jody (my Mum) was telling them about the stars and God’s promise that he would send a Saviour and all that. She said to them about Mary, Joseph and the baby…”What was the baby’s name children?” and a little voice shouted out above all the rest “JACK!!!”. Again, we all fell about laughing. They’d only heard Jesus’ name about 24 times, but to this little boy he was baby Jack and he wouldn’t be told any different. It makes me wonder if his Mum has just had a baby and called him Jack or something, he was utterly convinced that was the baby’s name, bless him.
I am absolutely loving being involved in this Experience Christmas at church this week. The children are brilliant and it is such a privilege to be part of their Christian education at such an early stage. I’m learning such a lot about myself this week as well as being in a position to impart what little knowledge I (now realise!) I have. It’s amazing how through the eyes of children – and non church children at that – that the story takes on new meanings and I have been able to gain new insights into the Christmas story. For example, the function and purpose of the 3 wise men in the story. To me they have always been a bit of an add-on to the story, but really, they are part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy from thousands of years before.
Another example was something that was revealed to me yesterday. I mistakenly presumed that the children didn’t know anything of Jesus or any of the Bible stories that I was brought up with. One little boy proved to me that you can’t just presume things like that. When I was talking about the journey Joseph and Mary took from Nazareth (with the aid of a huge floor map, beautifully hand-drawn by one of our artistic ladies), I was demonstrating how far it was to walk etc. This little boy piped up “yeah, and then when he was grown up, Jesus walked all the way back up the River Jordan to the Sea of Galilee and did some miracles there. That’s where he walked on water innit Miss?” To say I was astounded is an understatement.
The reason for the season is definitely taking on a new dimension for me this year and I am LOVING it!!!