My level 2 and 3 atrium includes 2 kindergartners who turn 6 early in the year. These children, along with this year's first graders, and one second grader (new to the atrium) joined me for the Good Shepherd presentation this past Monday afternoon. Some had heard the parable before; others had not. One boy just heard it all with Eucharistic Presence two weeks ago, but I invited him anyway. Why? Because a group presentation is going to be different from an individual presentation - and I hoped he would grow even more from experiencing the work both ways. I think he did ;)
Responses to the Good Shepherd in no particular order:
- There are SO MANY sheep!
- There are hundreds!
- No, just one hundred. (this child had heard the Found Sheep already)
- More than that!
- (after hearing "there are other sheep... there will be one flock..." everyone agreed on this statement) - The whole world is full of His sheep!
They were eager for more so we moved to the Found Sheep:
- "So even when I disobey my mom and dad, the Good Shepherd is still calling me and looking for me!" (this was this child's first presentation with this work and we had not yet technically identified the sheep - all the children knew the Shepherd as Jesus right away)
- "I don't know if I can hear the Shepherd's voice. Is he really calling me? how?" (SEE NOTES BELOW)
- he left all the other sheep because He knew they would be safe together. And if one did get lost from that group, He will go after that one too - and STILL be happy!
- He didn't really leave them. Because He is Jesus - He left them with His Body and Blood while looking for the lost one. He fed that one at the party when He got back and called his neighbors and friends for the party.
- He is so happy! He LOVES us!
Notes on the question about hearing the Shepherd's voice:
- "I don't know if I can hear the Shepherd's voice. Is he really calling me? how?" (we then explored ways that the Good Shepherd's voice is heard - not like my voice in their ears, but in their hearts, through reading the Scripture that is ALL God's Word, going to Mass, listening to the priest, receiving the sacraments, etc). Please note: this question expressed more of the "how does this work" than actual "doubt" --- it can be such fine details that cause us to provide the wrong or the right answers --- hence we explore the question rather than give a direct answer --- and help the child come to the answers he was seeking, rather than imposing our understanding of his question on the path to the answer.
This particular group of children naturally moved into the Eucharistic Presence work on their own, while I just sat by and inserted tiny pointers here and there, such as, "Do we need the statue of the Good Shepherd? Why not? Is He still present with us? How much of Himself did He give? We have one sheep called to a special role - what does he do or say?"
The children then replaced the sheep with the international figures (this atrium does not have the local figures in place) and tried to identify their origin. Some we couldn't tell, so I asked, "Does it matter where this one is from?" The children all said, "No, because he is called too. The Good Shepherd has only one flock all over the world."
I loved sitting back with the children (behind some of them) and letting them work with the presentation on their own. While not "kosher" in this case, it was very wonderful to see - again, a few of the children already had that work, so they guided, while the other children have such rich faith lives at home - they just GOT it. :)