Sunday, April 2, 2017

Religious Education: Seder Meal

This was a bit ambitious, even by my standards, but I really wanted to do my best for this Middle School group, to bring our faith to life in meaningful and memorable ways.  I talked with the class a few weeks ago about how they wanted to spend the final four class sessions and they were enthusiastic about sharing a Seder meal and celebration together.  So, in the next class, they choose committees and worked on either the program, the menu, the decorations, or the music.  We also coordinated volunteers to be servers.

Our first logistical hurdle was to get a solid estimate about who would be there.  Each Sunday class attendance can vary from 18-38 kids.  I ended up using an evite, getting 20 confirmed attendees, and still having 30 who actually showed up.  Better too many than too few!

Kids started arriving early, which was a first sign of enthusiasm!  Then some brought instruments and started playing lovely classical music.  Wow!  They wanted to know when we were going to get started and enthusiastically sat down together as soon as the Mass-attendees arrived.

The ceremony was great and the kids who self-elected for various reading roles did a great job.  The servers were enthusiastic about pouring the four cups of "wine" and everyone had a program so that they could read the "all" sections and eat the ritualized meal (haroset, maror, matzo, egg, "lamb" and salt water)..  We used a version with a Christian point: it used all of the original language that Christ would have known and also acknowledged the points in the ritual when Christ is believed to have introduced the Eucharist.  Afterward, we had a feast together of non-ritualized food from recipes that the kids had selected and everyone seemed to have fun.

Part of the point is a sort-of biblical living history - by participating in such a ritual, the hope is that Christ's life and Word will be more tangible and memorable.  Part of the point is community - breaking bread and playing music together helps (I hope) to build friendships that they will enhance into their Confirmation preparation year.

The most astounding moments came after the feast, when some of the kids offered to help clean up.  I couldn't believe my ears!  They willingly worked hard to pack up the tables and chairs - and those who helped were mostly from the group of eighth grade boys who usually sit in the back and talk amongst themselves, disruptive and seemingly unengaged.

A wonderful experience!  K and G were core parts of it, helping with every element.  G isn't even in the class and so did so with no expectation of attending.  But the night before I woke up thinking, "of COURSE she should come.  She's been such a big part of the prep, why leave her out of the event?  So I put her in charge of serving the "wine" and (of course) she did a great job organizing the older kids.  They both worked relentlessly for two solid hours beforehand, prepping the tables, food, and room.  It wouldn't have happened without them (for both obvious and practical reasons).






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