Acacia in the Desert

January 11, 2010

Telling the Story of the Tabernacle

So far, I’ve told the story of the tabernacle in two ways.  The first time was to a group of third graders.   I essentially used the story from Young Children and Worship.  I like the emphasis on becoming ready to get close to God, and how each line of the story builds on the previous.

Now the priest could go through the sweet-smelling incense and smoke to the Ark and be close to God.  But this still wasn’t enough to come close to something so precious.  So they made a special table called the Table of Shewbread.  … Now the priest could walk between the Table of Shewbread and the Menorah through the sweet-smelling incense and smoke to the Ark and be close to God.

I did make some changes.

  • The main change I made was telling the story in reverse order, going from the outside-in.  I started the priest figures outside the fence, and gradually moved them in, adding each piece to the table as it was mentioned in the story.
  • Given that the best way to learn a new vocabulary word is hearing it in context, and given that the essential meaning of this story is the holiness of God — I didn’t use the word “precious.”  I said, “this still wasn’t enough to come close to something so holy.”
  • I emphasized exclusion.  Only the Jews could enter the tabernacle.  Only the priests use the bronze laver and go past it.  Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies.  Only once a year could he do so.  God is holy.  We are not.

The second time was to a group of four-year-olds.  Attention span = 10 seconds.  That’s two sentences per piece of furniture.  So all the pieces were placed in a cloth bag, and we went around the circle.  Each child got a turn to draw out a piece and place it where I instructed — sort of a non-chronological storytelling approach.  To read the report of that lesson, see Of Torn Curtains, and Other Joyful Thoughts.

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