Updated: Oct 29, 2019
If you have the great opportunity to be in an Atrium (the unique environment prepared just for children to encounter God) you will quickly notice a few elements--peaceful atmosphere, everything is child-sized, it's quiet (most of the time), lots of hands on materials, and maps. Several maps.
"I wonder why we have maps in the Atrium...." is a statement I regularly say to the children when we begin to notice and observe the space together. The children are always curious about the maps! I think it's because they signal a journey, they point to adventure, they root us in reality.
Young children (ages 0-6) need the concrete before the abstract and be rooted in reality. Early map and geography work helps children begin to understand that Jesus was a real, historical person who was born, lived, breathed, worked, had friends, died, and rose again. The topographical maps provided in the Atrium allow children to use their hands and feel concretely the "land" where Jesus walked and lived. These concrete actions help place the events of Jesus' life when the children hear them recounted in the most Holy Bible.
The City of Jerusalem
As we enter into Holy week next week, one "map work" I want to highlight is the City of Jerusalem.
In this presentation, the children are invited to recall last events of Jesus' life as we retrace his steps--the events of Holy Week. As we move the walls on the topographical map (pictured above) to the mute map, we ponder the importance the Jewish people placed on the Temple--that God dwelt in the Temple and the reasoning for building walls around the city.
We then move the gray buildings, telling the accounts of the Last Supper, the questionings at the House of Caiaphas the high priest, at the Tower of Antonia with Pontius Pilate and at the Palace of King Herod.
When Jesus walked these roads, carrying his cross...when he was crucified and his body placed in the tomb...it seemed that all hope was lost...it seemed that the darkness was stronger than the light...
But what happened? Was the darkness stronger? Did darkness win? No! Light is stronger! What happened? What do we celebrate at Easter?
Jesus rose from the dead! The Light wins! It always does. What an amazing gift! What can we say to God who is so good to us?
What can we say? As we enter into these last few days of Lent, let us ponder what we can say to God who loves us so much, who is so good to us. Let us enter into these moments and remember Jesus' love as he takes on our sin, our darkness, and shows us that darkness never has the last say and that Light always triumphs.
in our Good Shepherd,