Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Great Feasts: The Life of Our Lord

As we start the Liturgical New Year, maybe it's a good time to bring The Great Feasts: The Life of Our Lord materials to good use in your homes?

( - The Twelve Great Feasts and Pascha, taken together, are an overview of the life of our Lord. While it is important for our children to know about His miracles and teachings, it is just as important for them to know the main events of His life story. Our salvation resides in His life. Furthermore, just as we are baptized into Him, our own story—our life—must rest on His. Jesus’ life comprises the “foundational story” for Christians. A foundational story answers the ultimate questions of life, death and why we are here, and guides our thoughts, values, and actions. The Christian story provides answers to all these questions and gives us the virtues of faith, hope, and love that, even if not recognized as such, influence our attitudes and actions and curb the anxiety that comes from unexpected events and uncertain times. It is a strong foundation.

If there is one feast day that our children know, it is likely the Nativity of Christ because of the gifts they receive. As they get older, they recognize Pascha as “the feast of feasts.” Is the story of Pascha enough to hold onto when the late adolescent, away from home and in a secular culture, begins to doubt the reality of Jesus?

The Great Feasts support the reality of Jesus and our belief that He was truly God and truly human. When it was time for Jesus to begin teaching his disciples about his impending death, He took Peter James and John to the mountain and his divinity shone all around Him. The feast of the Transfiguration reinforces Pascha. At the feast of Theophany, God spoke from the heavens of His beloved Son. An important consideration supporting the reality of our faith is the fact that Jesus Christ did not come unannounced; rather, for 1800 years prior to His birth, God prepared a people to receive Him, as witnessed by the Old Testament. The feast of Theophany teaches us that John the Baptist recognized Him. Simeon and Anna also knew of His coming and rejoiced at His arrival, as we learned from the feast of the Presentation to the Temple. The coming of the Christ was long anticipated.

The need for our children to have Christ’s story as their foundational story is particularly critical at this time. The current thinking is that “overarching,” or “foundational” stories are to be discarded in favor of the individual finding meaning in life from bits and pieces of various religions, philosophies, or even fantasies created by his or her own imagination. Even if the resulting story contradicts itself, or is incoherent, it is considered above criticism because it is meaningful for the individual. This is the philosophy of “post-modernism.” With the individualistic ethos today, mixed with the desire of each generation to create itself, it isn’t difficult to see how the idea of creating your own foundational story can take hold. Such a story creates a universe of meaning for only that individual. It is a lonely—alienating—choice.

“The Great Feasts: The Life of Our Lord.” provides four packets of icon pages (for Grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and MS/HS). The packets have pages for each of the twelve Great Feasts and Pascha.Each page has a description of the feast or its apolotykion (troparion).We are asking teachers to post the Feast Day icon pages around their classroom, or if that is not possible, to keep them in a notebookso they can be shown to the students as the feast approaches. We are asking also that they find a way to note that the feast day is approaching by placing a colored close pin, or a removable sticker, or arrow on the page. The repetition of this practice each year will lead to knowledge of the icons and the feasts. An additional worksheet is in each packet.

We have a foundational story that is life-giving and historical. At its center is the real life of a man, the Son of God, who lived 2,000 years ago, and lives still. Our children need to know that story, and to make it their own. “The Great Feasts, The Life of Our Lord,” is a step in that direction.

No comments:

Post a Comment