Teaching Children Beyond the Borders
March 23, 2017
This school year I wanted to offer something new to Sunday school. Typically we focus our lessons on biblical stories from the Old and New Testaments. During the fall our lessons each week focused on favourite bible stories taken from the Old Testament. We heard about David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lion and Noah and his Ark to name a few. This winter and spring our biblical lessons have focused on New Testament stories about Jesus; from his birth in Bethlehem to his death on the cross. These are stories we expect to teach in Christian education. They embody Christian values of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
But I have had to ask myself whether this is enough? Kindness, compassion and empathy for others come about when we develop an understanding of other people. We live in an age where we are challenged to face our own prejudices, challenged to confront intolerance and challenged to stand up to injustice. We live in a very diverse society, in a city with people from many walks of life, cultures and religious backgrounds. I have had to ask myself whether simply focusing lessons on Christian stories offers our children all that they truly need to face these challenges with perspective, understanding and acceptance. In doing so, I decided I could offer something more to Sunday school.
This winter and spring, Sunday school lessons have included an introduction to other religions and religious practices. One Sunday we learned about Hinduism. We learned about some of the many gods and goddesses worshiped by Hindus. We learned about the Hindu temple and about the Hindu altar many Hindus have in their homes. Children also learned about the festival of Raksha Bandhan which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. Another Sunday we learned about Buddhism. We learned about the practice of Buddhist meditation and about the Buddhist belief in Karma; how our good and bad actions can affect our flow through life. Children made Buddhist prayer flags which are used to pray for peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. Going forward, future lessons this spring will look at other religious practices and will focus on Judaism, Islam and First Nations spirituality.
By offering an understanding of other religious practices, my hope is to inspire an interest for further knowledge. Learning about different cultures and religions helps to demonstrate that although there are many differences in how these faiths practice their religion, different religions often represent and promote similar core values. Children have an innate ability to be welcoming and accepting of others and are often able to see through barriers. They are in fact blind to many of the walls adults build around them. My hope is that by offering a greater understanding of religions and cultures beyond Christian teachings, our children will live and truly walk a life of kindness and compassion, acceptance and empathy as they grow and learn to navigate the wonderfully diverse world around them.
If you would like to know more about our Sunday School program visit our Children's Ministries page, or contact me directly at [email protected] We would love to welcome you and your family!
Sunday School Leader