Monday, December 3, 2012

Teaching Orthodox Saints to Protestant Children!

This girl was a Christmas tree; kids taped ornaments on her
I run the youth group at my Protestant Parish. It's for kids ages 7 - 12.  With St. Nicholas's day coming up on Thursday and because of his association with Modern day Christmas, I thought it would be a good idea to use the story of the REAL St. Nicholas and share it with the kids during our time of devotion.

As usual, we have tons of fun, first playing some games and that's what we did. The kids had a race to decorate a human Christmas tree. They also choose two kids to do Santa makeovers  giving them a white beard with shaving cream. And we had Donkey races, in honor of Mary riding into Bethlehem on a donkey. (Not sure if that really happened, but all the pictures in modern lore tell us so.) The donkeys, by the way, were kids on all fours and an other kid rode on his back.

When it came time for Devotions, I gathered the kids into our prayer room. I am grateful that this protestant parish has set aside a room exclusively for prayer. We are able to teach the kids that places can be holy, if we invite God there.  And I told them the story of the Bishop from Myra ~ the most famous of his exploits where he rescues three young girls with no dowry.  I had to change them becoming prostitutes into slaves instead. They are just kids, after all and if you think about a life of prostitution is a sort of slavery.

The kids received the story well and I was able to tie it in to the Gospel of Matthew's account of Jesus saying to give in secret, not letting your left hand know what your right is doing.  I also gave the kids practical advice on how they could give in secret, shamelessly stealing the idea from the Ancient Faith Radio podcast, Raising Saints, where Elissa Bjeletich  suggests that putting away a siblings shoes in secret so they won't get in trouble is a great way to become little St. Nicholas's.  You can hear the excellent podcast here:

I must admit the evening went well. I think it did help that I arrived extra early and, after setting up all the props for the games, I went into the prayer room myself and asked God to help me. I also asked for the prayers of St. Nicholas asking him to help me convey his story to the children for the Glory of God. I think God heard Nicholas' prayers because it was an exceptionally good evening!

I ended the night having time trials races. Basically I timed each kid as they ran to put three separate Bags of Gold on to three chairs set up in the room. (This game was to  remind them of the gold St. Nicholas threw into the window to save the girls). I used the chocolate coins that come out this time of year; it only cost me one dollar each. After each kid ran the course, I gave the child with the second best time, a bag of gold coins. The kid who came in first received two bags. I told him to keep one bag for himself and give the other away to someone, in secret if at all possible. The kids really loved this game and the best time, by the way, was 10.4 seconds! :)

Chocolate coins for the race
I really did sense the prayers of St. Nicholas helping me and I can see, after reading about his life, why he is such a popular Saint.  May we all enjoy his feast day this Thursday. I may be unemployed right now but the good thing about that is I shall be able to make it to Divine Liturgy on his feast day. That is cool!


  1. What a great idea! No Christian child will be harmed by knowing more about St. Nicholas indeed.

  2. Mimi,
    and I think the kids really enjoyed the story!

  3. Were you able to attend Divine Liturgy on S Nicholas' Day? Looking forward to a report. Prayers. Bill

  4. Bill,
    no, I gave into an emotional funk and stayed home...I should have rallied myself but I didn't. did, however make it to st. Herman' s feast day today. a blog post by tomorrow, I hope. in the mean time, go to "my daily phone pic" blog link on the right and see a quick glimpse!