Title: Baptism I: Light and a White Garment
Age: 3 to 13 years
Liturgical Time: After Pascha, a few weeks after Liturgy of the Light, Paschal Vigil
Prerequisites: Prophecy of Light and Liturgy of Light presentations
Doctrinal Content: The light of the risen Christ is a gift from God. We receive this gift of light at baptism. The light is everlasting, having conquered death. The candle, representing the light of Christ, is lit, extinguished, and relit, signifying Jesus' death and resurrection and our own participation in His death and resurrection at our baptism.
Direct Aim: This lesson intends to isolate and lift up two of the signs of baptism (light and white garment), to point to our participation in them at baptism.
Indirect Aims: This lesson means to indirectly lay a foundation for further presentations on baptism and to offer a deeper understanding of their own baptism so the child may enjoy this gift and fall more deeply in love with God. This lesson is also preparation for Level 2 work around salvation history.
Sources: Hymn of Baptism: "Those who have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ forever Alleluia."
Materials for the Lesson:
Paschal candle in holder
small white votives in clear glass holders, enough for each person in the room
candle lighter and snuffer, matches
white baptismal gown
pretty tray to hold the small candles
one Baptism candle in a candle holder
The Lesson Plan:
Gather and settle the children. The room should be dark or dim, if possible. To introduce the topic of Baptism, ask if anyone has seen someone being baptized. "Today we're going to talk about baptism. Has anyone seen anyone baptized? What did you see? Now, we're going to learn a little bit about what this baptism means. Do you remember before Christmas and we were talking about prophecies. We were talking about the prophecy of light. The people who walked in darkness had seen a great light. Who were they talking about? Jesus. The light came into the world when Jesus was born." Remind them of the Prophecy of the Light before Christmas, ask what they remember. Make the point that Jesus is the light the prophets were talking about. Jesus was born and the light came into the world.
Light the Paschal candle. Jesus was crucified and He died. Explain that the Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. "We know Jesus was born and He walked on this earth as a man. We know He was crucified and died. The Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep. When Jesus died the light went out, (blow out the candle) but only for a short time (relight the candle).
Extinguish candle once more, and explain that when He died, the light went out. The darkness did not overpower the light; the Good Shepherd laid down His own life. The light was out only a short time.
Relight the candle, explaining that Jesus rose again with a new light that can never go out, it is stronger than death. He wants to share this light. The moment we receive it in a most powerful way is called baptism. At baptism we are called by name and given this wonderful gift.
Invite the children by name to come up and receive a candle. Explain that at baptism, they are given a candle to show they have the light of Christ in them. "When I call your name, you will receive a candle from this Paschal candle." (Remind how to use candles).
"[Child's name], (light candle)…the light of the risen Christ was given for you." (Blow out candle lighter each time and relight)…end with "The light of the risen Christ was given to me, [your name]".
Each candle is to be lit directly from the Paschal candle, so the small lighting candle must be extinguished and relit each time.
After everyone receives a candle, meditate: what do we say when we receive a wonderful gift? We started with just one light. Now we have so much more light. Jesus shares His light. He wants it to grow and grow. This is an amazing gift. What do we say when we receive an amazing gift? Thank you. Do you want to say something to Jesus? Let's just do that quietly in our hearts.
Invite them to say thank you to Jesus aloud or in their hearts. Another way to say thank you is to sing: "Those who have been baptized with Christ..." or another appropriate song.
Explain that there are other signs at baptism. Show them the white gown. Meditate with them about its color: why is the garment white? When you're baptized you're given a white garment to show on the outside what now happened to your heart on the inside. It is full of light, clean and spotless. Explain that they are given their own white candles at baptism to show they have received Jesus' light inside them.
If they haven't done so already, invite them to put their candles around the Paschal candle. Have them leave the candles lit while they work. Let's bring our candles and put them around the Paschal candle to remind us of Jesus. We're going to keep these candles burning to remind us of our baptism while we go on working.
Explore the passage on baptism contained in Romans chapter 6.
Continue to Baptism II.
Notice: This lesson plan utilizes training and the general philosophy/method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program. Materials found in this document, however, have been created specifically to incorporate the theology and dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church. The author of this lesson offers special recognition to Mrs. JoAnne Padget, CGS Instructor, who provided instruction and guidance in the CGS method. The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program requires intensive study and strongly recommends that teachers using their program enroll in and complete coursework through an authorized CGS instructor. More information about CGS is available at http://www.cgsusa.org.