Yesterday was one of those days when I could literally see the connections happening between children and the Word! John 15:1-8. “I am the true vine” was the third of the “I am statements” that we have explored with the pre-k through 5th graders. We began with the children’s moment in worship where we connected our whole congregation with green yarn – the vine. Yes, we got tangled.
Then, we went to our class. Since we had used the Godly Play, “I am” script from volume three in previous weeks, I developed an extension of that lesson using illustrations of the “I am” statements. I included variety of images from different artists for the vine, the light of the world, and the good shepherd. I gave one to each child and asked them to look carefully and think about what they notice about the picture. I also asked them to think if the picture reminded them of Jesus in some way.
Then, each child took turns sharing their image with the others and placing it near the “I am” statement they thought it might go with. There are no right or wrong answers! Not surprisingly the children noticed many details that I hadn’t paid attention to. All of them had thoughtful ideas to share – even the 4 year olds. One of the youngest said, “This picture has a sheep in it. The man who is holding the sheep is Jesus because Jesus is love.” Wise words, indeed!
I wrapped up by showing a few multi-cultural images of Jesus. I made sure to point out that we do not know what he looked like – artists use their imaginations when they draw or paint Jesus. I asked the kids if I would know all about them just from a picture. (No, they agreed). What about if someone said told me one thing about you (you are tall, you are kind, you play an instrument, for example). Then would I know all about you? (No, again). That is why we have many stories in the Bible about Jesus, a number of “I am statements” and a lot of interesting art to explore. Jesus is wonderfully complex, too!
Since it was communion Sunday our class time was short. Our response was creating a group art project representing the true vine. The leaves were pre-cut from watercolor papers the children had created the weeks before. They glued them onto the vine.
Another connection happened by chance on the way back to the sanctuary for communion. We walked outside where the children excitedly pointed out vines on the ground. We still have our Easter crosses painted by the youth on display. Sitting in the middle of the vines was the cross that had a vine painted on it. They noticed that, too! I was blessed to witness all the wonderful, natural connections children make when they are allowed have the opportunity to wonder, create, explore and hear the Bible.