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We had a very good class last week. We finished up the last three of the Ten Commandments.

False witness – Most of the class had a pretty good general idea of what this was all about. However, we expanded the discussion to include issues more relevant to them, like gossip and rumors.

Two “covet” commandments – We described “covet” as to want something so badly that you are willing to commit a wrong to get it. Regarding coveting a neighbor’s goods, it pointed out that it is OK to admire something like a new phone or something similar a friend gets. But when you want it so badly you are willing to steal it, it is coveting.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the issue of coveting another’s wife or husband, but we did point out that God so values marriage that two of the commandments refer to it. The adultery commandment applies to the people within the marriage, but the covet commandment addresses someone outside the relationship. Interestingly enough, this general concept showed up in the exercise that comprised the rest of the class.

We then retold the story of Moses and Mt. Sinai with a minor revision. In this story there was a group of fifth graders in the crowd when Moses presented the Commandments. The fifth graders objected, saying there wasn’t really much there that applied to them, since they are really into murder and aren’t even sure what that adultery thing is. They sent Moses back up the mountain to ask God for another set of Commandments, this one relevant to 5th graders. We broke the class into groups of two and three and gave them poster boards and markers. We told them to imagine they are God, and to come up with a second set of Commandments, this one applying to the issues fifth graders face.

Once we got the group of guys to stop squabbling over who was going to write what, it went smoothly and very well. It’s always interesting to see what they come up with.

“Don’t bust your friend’s crush.” That was one I had to ask about.

We had each group present their list to the class. Everyone did great. Mrs. Rudolphi and I were very pleased.

This week we will start our two-part lesson on Reconciliation be examining the concept of forgiveness. See ya then!

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Sorry for the delay in posting this update. The past couple of days were just a little busy.

In any case, on Wednesday evening, we tackled the last six of the Ten Commandments. This was a rather unstructured, free-flowing discussion. Perhaps it was a little too unstructured, as keeping the class focused on a group discussion was a little challenge. The temptations of cutting up and chatting with one’s neighbors was more than some of our little band could withstand. Even so, it was fairly lively and most of the group was involved.

We started with a review of the first four commandments we covered last week, then moved on to the next set. Here are the key points we discussed.

“You shall not kill” – Surprisingly, there weren’t as many questions about this as I had anticipated. Some students were concerned about killing animals, like for food. Some others were concerned that God had killed in the Bible (the plagues on Egypt in Exodus and the Great Flood in Genesis.) We talked a little about self-defense and then moved on.

“You shall not commit adultery” – We defined “adultery” simply as breaking your marriage vows or “cheating” on your husband or wife. (There was no need to go into greater detail with this age group.) We jumped out of order and also included #9 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” in he discussion. We pointed out that both commandments underscore the importance God puts on the sanctity of marriage. While the adultery commandment is aimed at the married couple, the covet prohibition is targeted towards the third person in an adulterous triangle.

“You shall not steal” – This must have been self explanatory, as we had no questions or “…but what if?” scenarios.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” – The class understood the obvious point of the commandment. We elaborated a little and tried to relate it to their age group by including gossip in he conversation. They seemed to make the connection and understood how simple playground gossip can be harmful and run afoul of this commandment.

“You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor” – In earlier discussions, we defined “covet” (which was a concept that no one initially understood) as wanting something so much that you are willing to do something wrong to get it. We gave a few examples and the idea seemed to click.

In response to a question from one of the students, we had a discussion about why the Jewish people did not follow Jesus and become Christians. We provided some historical perspective and explained how in the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection, here was much discussion in the Jewish and Christian community about the nature of Christ. Not everyone believed him to be the Messiah and the Son of God. Those who did followed the apostles and other early Christian leaders. Those who did not remained Jews.

As always, we concluded the class by polling each student and asking them to name one thing they learned that evening. Everyone who responded (and that was all of them), was rewarded with a homemade cookie.

This week, I may start with an exercise. We’ll break the class into small groups and ask them to imagine they are assigned to write a set of commandments for today’s fifth graders. It might be interesting to see what they come up with. They will probably take around half the class period. During the second half, we will cover the upcoming season of Lent.

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Before I get any further, there is an important schedule change. The calendar I have had posted on this blog since September has a mistake.

We WILL be off next week (April 11) due to the public schools’ spring break.

Our final class of the year will be the following Wednesday, April 18.

There will be NO class on April 25 or any subsequent Wednesdays.

Last night, we had a good session. We covered the Ten Commandments. Originally, I thought we had two classes to cover this subject, but, obviously, I was wrong. So we had to move a little more quickly to cram all ten into the class session.

You can sure tell that it’s spring. While generally well behaved, the students were very “antsy.” During our discussions, hands were up all the time, and everyone wanted to tell a story.

We started by reading the first (of several) version of the commandments in Exodus 20.  Then we walked through the commandments. Among the items of discussion were:

The commandments are split into two sections — those that pertain to God and those that pertain to man.

Different religions count the commandments differently. Catholics divide the God-related directives into three commandments, while many Protestant religions count them as four. On the other hand, Catholics count the “covet” directives as two separate commandments (9 & 10) while the Protestants combine them into one. This is only important when people refer to commandments by their number rather than its verbiage. We distributed a chart that showed how the commandments are arranged by various faiths.

We talked a little about “false gods” and what things might be considered “false gods” today – anything that can get between you and your relationship with God. Among the examples the students came up with were money, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, sports, etc. We emphasized that while most of these are not evil in themselves, they can become harmful when they assume a too-great measure of importance.

We talked about using God’s name improperly and the Sabbath.

We discussed the importance of honoring and respecting parents, not only when they are children but also as adults, especially when their parents are older and may need their assistance.

The commandment against killing did not generate as much discussion as in past years.

Most of our students were not familiar with the term “adultery.” We described it as someone in a married couple having another boyfriend or girlfriend on the side. We did emphasize that God included two commandments respecting the sanctity of marriage. One (adultery) was aimed at the married couple. The second (not to covet your neighbor’s wife) is aimed at someone outside the marriage who might want to break it up.

The commandment against stealing was grasped easily and did not provoke much discussion. We did have a couple of questions that involved some convoluted “what if” scenarios. We didn’t spend much time on those.

We discussed the concept of “false witness” in terms of lying about someone or just spreading rumors and gossip.

We talked about the concept of coveting. Most of the class was not familiar with the term. We described the difference between simply admiring something that belongs to a friend (a new baseball mitt, a bicycle, a cell phone, etc.) and coveting it. They covet it when they want it so badly that they are willing to do something wrong to get it for themselves.

Our last class will be in two weeks. We will do something special, although I’m not sure just what it will be. We have two weeks to think about it.

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