Title: Mystery of Life and Death
Subject: Paschal Mystery
Age: 3 to 13 years
Liturgical Time: Lent, prior to the Feast of Pascha
Doctrinal Content: New life comes from death. In Christ, life is stronger than death. This new life is greater, fuller, more complete, life giving, and eternal. The mystery of death is the transformation to the fullness of life.
Direct Aim: The aim is for children to listen to the words in John 12:24 and explore the mystery of death.
Indirect Aims: Indirect aims include educating the child to hope; to delve deeper into the Paschal mystery of death; to come to the realization that in Jesus, death is followed by renewed and eternal life; to participate more fully in the celebration of Pascha.
Source: John 12:24
Materials for the Lesson:
Materials Manual, page 105
Payer card with illustration and words from John 12:24 with a stand
Candle, matches, snuffer
Tray for flower pots
Small container with wheat seeds
3 flower pots (plant Durham hard winter wheat 2 weeks/1 week/4 days prior to the presentation.)
Small vase with fully grown wheat
Fork to up-end dirt
Brush and dust pan to brush up soil
Seeds and Sprouting seed
The Lesson Plan:
Gather and settled the children. Begin with, "We are now in the season of Lent preparing for Pascha, the celebration of Jesus' victory over death. So, we are going to listen to Jesus' words about death and life. This is a very short parable, but it contains a great secret. Sometimes the greatest secrets are in the shortest parables."
Light the candle. Continue with, "Let's get our bodies ready to listen. When we are quiet, we will be ready to listen to these special words." Read from the prayer card; read it a second time, this time pointing out the picture on the prayer card. Note the following:
- Seed fall into the earth.
- There are layers of earth on the seed.
- You are starting to see fruit
- The last picture is the wheat grown.
Ask the class, "If the seed had not fallen onto the ground, would this have happened?" Bring in the pots and dig up the seed from the three pots to show the children the difference in the growth of the seeds. Say, "The seed has given its life to the roots and the stems. It is still there but in a different form. The seed is planted and allowed to give its life for new seeds." Show the mature wheat plant and explain that the pods are new seeds, which will produce more new seeds. Continue with, "This all makes us think about Jesus. He rose from the dead with a new kind of life. Because Jesus did this, we have His life more so now then when He died."
Share the following only with the oldest children:
"Jesus told this parable at the Last Supper, when He was preparing the disciples for His death. What does this tell us about this person who died?" The answer is, "There is a reality beyond death. The body disappears but it gives rise to a new life in heaven, which is great and grand and wonderful." Ask, "Why is there death?" Answer: In order to enter this new life.
Speak about a memorial service and the use of boiled wheat in the koliva. If possible have koliva in class for them to see, give them a recipe, they can even make it in class. Remind them that when we conduct a memorial service in the Church, the boiled wheat is a reminder of the body of the deceased and the promise of Jesus that they have been planted in death to be raised in newness of life at the resurrection of all.
Invite a response of prayer, silence, or song, you might sing Christ is Risen.
Children can work directly with the seeds.
Practical life exercise: They can observe the material directly, or plant their own seeds.
Tracing packet with one card to write out the parable on to card stock
Free drawings in answer to, "How can we keep thinking about this today in our work?"
Have the children make their own prayer card.
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.