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Posts Tagged ‘sabbath’

I thought we had a good class on Wednesday, but maybe not the “home run” we are always striving for.

The topic of discussion was the Ten Commandments. We began by distributing a sheet with the Commandments listed, and a photocopy of one of the chapters in Exodus where they are presented. We gave the class some of the background surrounding the story of the Israelites escape from Egypt, Moses, Mount Sinai and the stone tablets. Then we had six students read the biblical passage.

During this exercise and a subsequent discussion about taking the Lord’s name in vain, some of the children were very cute. The student assigned to read the passage with the tenth commandment stopped short. The passage contained the word “ass,” referring to an animal. He looked at me and said, “I’m not allowed to say that word.” I told him in that a context, the word referred to a donkey and it was OK to say it. As expected, it produced a round of giggles from the rest of the students. Likewise, during our discussion of using the Lord’s name, I had to grant them a “special exemption” so we could use examples and have a discussion.

We then discussed the first three commandments. We discussed what “false Gods” meant in the context of the Exodus story. However, we also brought the concept forward to the 21st century. We broke the class into three groups and asked them to brainstorm a list of false Gods in modern times — for both adults and children. We defined modern false gods as anything in life that can become more important than God, or can get between a person and God. As an example and to start the process, I suggested that for many people, money is a false god. The students caught on to the concept very quickly and all three groups produce very interesting and thought provoking lists. If they got nothing else out of the class, I hope that is one concept that will stick with them.

We then progressed into a discussion of misusing God’s name and of keeping the Sabbath. We spent some time discussing why most Christians celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week rather than the seventh.

All and all, it was a pretty successful class. Next week, we will tackle the remaining seven Commandments, and have the class develop a set of Commandments for modern-day 5th graders.

What follows below is simply a repetition of the email I sent out earlier this morning. If you have already read it, then this will be redundant.

Mrs. Hubert, Mrs. Rudolphi and I share a concern we think we should bring to your attention.

After class, some of our children have been heading out to meet their rides in the parking lot. This is difficult for us to control. In addition to sorting through the mild chaos of dismissal, frequently the children are being “picked up” by an older sibling. We don’t know if they are going to meet a parent in another classroom or in the parking lot.

We would like to strongly discourage this practice. The school parking lot is not a safe place for unaccompanied children. This is especially true during this time of year, when it is dark, and even more so when there is another activity happening at the school like there was this week.

So we would like to ask you, please, to come into the school building to pick up your child. Please do not ask them to meet you in the parking lot. If you have a situation where that is difficult (sleeping baby, older grandparent driver or whatever), just let us know, or instruct your child to tell us. Mrs. Rudolphi or I will be happy to walk your child (children) to your car. Seriously. We don’t mind.

Thank you very much for your cooperation on this.

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Good class last night. We were very happy to see that ten of our 13 students braved the lousy weather to attend. Thank you, parents!

Our main focus was the Ten Commandments. We had lots of discussion and lots of questions. Those are the best classes.

We started with a story, telling the class the background that lead to God delivering the Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

We had volunteers read the passage from Exodus 20 that is the first mention of the Commandments. (The students were somewhat “atwitter” last night, and references to an “ass” (ie: jackass) and “alien” caused more than a little giggling.)

We distributed list of the traditional “Ten Commandments” that demonstrated how some different religions count them. For example, Catholics count the God-related commandments as the first three, while many Protestant churches count them as four. On the other end, Catholics divide the last two “you shall not covet…” Commandments into two separate statements, while most Protestant sects combine them into one. We pointed out this only a concern if they are talking to a Protestant friend about the 4th Commandment, for instance. A Protestant would be talking about the Commandment to respect the Sabbath, while the Catholic would be honoring his father and mother.

As we walked through and discussed the first four Commandments, we talked about some of these points.

With the first Commandment, we spent some time talking about false gods. In the time of Moses, the issue was not to worship the sun, the Earth, a statue, etc. We asked the students to think about some of the false gods people may encounter today. They came up with ideas like money, drugs, alcohol, fame, celebrities, and so on.  We connected the Commandment to relevant issues today.

The second Commandment, to not take the Lord’s name in vain, was fairly easy for them to grasp. One student did confess she had a lot of trouble with that one. We suggested that it was a challenge she should try to master with prayer.

We talked about the concept of a Sabbath and why most Christians consider Sunday the Sabbath, rather than the “seventh day” (Saturday.) We pointed out that many early Christian leaders wanted to make a distinction between their older Jewish faith and their new Christian religion. Designating Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead, as the Sabbath was one way to do that. We also discussed that in today’s culture, we have largely gotten away from the concept of resting and avoiding work on the Sabbath, and not necessarily for the better.

As we discussed the fourth (Honor your father and mother.) Commandment, we emphasized several points. The Commandment may seem fairly obvious to fifth graders because they are still very dependent on their parents for the essentials of living. However, even ten and eleven year-olds may need to be reminded from time to time to love, respect and obey their parents. We pointed out that the main thrust of the Commandment was not towards children, but rather towards adults, especially adults whose parents are older and may depend on them. Role reversal. At the time the Commandments were written, it was not unusual for older, dependent tribe members who became a burden to be rejected or abandoned to die. While we typically don’t do that today, the Commandment is especially important when parents or grandparents grow older and need the younger family members’ love and assistance.

Next week, we will finish up with the last six Commandments, and they always generate some interesting discussion. How can you go wrong discussing murder, lying, theft, jealousy, adultery, and gossip?  Should be fun. Parents – come on out and enjoy the class. You are most welcome.

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Last night was our second-to-last CCD class for the year and the last one during which we will try to teach a serious lesson. Spring fever is certainly upon us. The students were all hovering about six inches over their seats when we began class. Lots of energy!

As expected, we had a pretty interesting discussion. Last week, we discussed the Ten Commandments in general and the first commandment in detail. Last night, we went over the final nine commandments. There were lots of questions and plenty of discussion. Among the points we discussed were:

— Don’t use the name of God improperly, through exclamations, cursing and so on.

— Why Catholics celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday rather than the “seventh day,” and our obligations to honor the Sabbath, such as attending Mass.

— The fourth commandment to honor your father and mother is intended for all ages, not just children. It’s easy to honor your parents when you are a child and are dependent on them. However, God wants us to honor our parents, especially when they are old and they are dependent upon us.

— “You shall not kill” raised a ton of questions, including war, accidents and suicide. We could have spent all night talking about the morality of military combat, but we didn’t have that much time. We simply pointed out that while God hates war, sometimes a justified war is better than the alternative.

Accidents are not considered a sin. However, someone who kills another in a car “accident” would certainly have some responsibility if they had been drinking, using drugs, driving recklessly, etc.

We discussed the Church’s teaching that suicide is a mortal sin. While many of the students believed their life belongs only to hem, we pointed out that their life is a gift from God, and so for someone to take their own life would be taking something that belongs to God. We did discuss two important related points.

1.) Many people who commit suicide are mentally impaired and may not be responsible for their actions.

2.) Only God knows if the person may have repented and asked for forgiveness at the last moment.

Because of these points, we emphasized that they should never judge what might have happened if they hear about a suicide.

— The commandment prohibiting adultery raised some questions, mostly “What is adultery?” (Of course, one of those questions came after we had just spent ten minutes explaining and discussing it. Thank you for paying attention.) We referred back to our discussion of marital fidelity when we covered Matrimony, and the importance of keeping marriage vows to be faithful.

–“You shall not steal” was pretty straight-forward. The class understood it right off and we didn’t have much discussion.

–The prohibition against false witness raised some questions. We tried to relate the concept to 5th grade lives by talking about gossip and rumors, which they seemed to understand.

— The ninth and tenth commandments prohibit coveting your neighbors wife (or husband) and anything that belongs to your neighbor. “Covet” was a new concept to most of the class. We said that while it is OK to admire something that belongs to another person. It is wrong to want it so badly they would be willing to steal it or do something else wrong to obtain it.  We related the same concept to a married couple. While the sixth commandment obliges a married couple to be faithful to each other, the ninth commandment prohibits a third person from trying to interfere in the couple’s relationship. At their age, the students didn’t seem to understand why someone would do such a thing. Mrs. Rudolphi and I assured them that while this may be a foreign concept to them now, as they grow older they will see that it is not as uncommon as they might think.

Next week will be our last class. We are going to do something special. I’m just not sure exactly what that will be.

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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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This is a late posting. Sorry ‘bout that. Last week was a very busy week in “Mike’s World.”

Our class Wednesday evening was a good one. We had a very small class. Apparently May Howard 5th graders had a field trip to Jekyll Island and that took out about half the class.

We started the Ten Commandments. As expected, we made our way halfway through the fifth commandment (Thou shall not kill.) when we ran out of time. Among the various discussion points were:

The story of God giving the commandments to Moses.

The new concept put forth in the first commandment that there is only one God.

We discussed the differences between the concept of false gods or idols at the time of the Exodus and what might be a false god today (celebrities, sports, play, money, etc.)

The differences between the way Catholics count the commandments, compared to many Protestant churches. (Catholics combine the God-related commandments into three. Protestants usually spread them out to four. Catholics separate the commandments against coveting into two separate commandments, while most Protestant churches combine them into one.) We pointed out that the material is all there. It’s just that different churches count them differently.

We discussed what it means to take the Lord’s name in vain.

We talked about the Sabbath and why Christians celebrate it on the first day of the week.

The importance of honoring your father and mother, and why God even needed to include that in the list.

We spent a fair amount of time discussing some of the “what if’s” in the commandment against killing. Self defense. War. Etc. We still have some to cover this week.

Because we had so many kids out last week, we will take a few minutes to review last week’s class. Then we will move on to the second half of the Commandments. Should be interesting. If you’re free, come and join the fun.

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