Sunday, January 31, 2010

Prodigal - week 2

This morning was quite special - with lovely coincidences and beautiful resolutions of what could be difficult deliberations. The younger group was very small - two drawers and painters - but the older group was busy doing stage settings of the prodigal son so I waited. Then two more students who had no introduction to Hebrew turned up for the younger group, so I went to their class and we sang the shema and I wrote the new children's names in Hebrew and gave them a beginning handout (they were aged 7 to 8).

Then the older group were doing the older brother bit - and I had chosen to do psalm 133 with them. The scenes being over, I went to that class and we sang hineh ma tov. There are some very fine musicians in the older group quite uninhibited on trumpet or violin but not used to singing - so I asked them to dance as well and eventually got a little music and movement out of them.

The teacher told me that after I had left she had read the psalm with them in English and talked a little about the oil on Aaron's beard. She would like me to talk to them about the oil... Perhaps there will be more on this later as we learn the song. They learn the song, and we will explore the anointing in TNK.

And as for beautiful resolutions, see these posts on two powers and Psalms 90-91. Look particularly at the words dwelling place or habitation and beauty - palindromes in the Hebrew. Listen, do it, wait, hope, be. As the Lord says - I will be with him in trouble. One day I will share some of these psalms with the children.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


One class was doing the good Samaritan this morning and the older class the prodigal son. I began the class by asking the children aged 9 to 14 if any of them knew the meaning of prodigal. One answer came back 'bad'. When I suggested prodigious as  related, I was able to coax from them a sense of large, even recklessly overflowing. We then applied this 'definition' to the natural world with its abundant fruitfulness, even waste, in its prodigality.

The Hebrew I chose to illustrate prodigality of love (see the libretto for Britten's St Nicholas by Crozier) is Isaiah 49:15. My printer was not available so I handwrote the verse in reverse interlinear last night. It was colourful but a bit crooked. Handwriting Hebrew is a good exercise.  Here it is - Hashem is like a mother. (Green is for grammatical letters and the background brown showing the repeated word).
התשכח אשה עולה מרחם
hatishkàx )ishah `vulah méràxém
Does a woman forget her nursling from the womb
the child of her belly
גם־אלה תשכחנה
gàm)éleh tishkàxnah
even these may forget
ואנכי לא אשכחך
v)anoky lo) )eshkaxék 
but I, I will not forget you

There is a Hebrew parallel difficult to express in English because of the use of the infinitive for having compassion = the noun for womb. Salt for ever sacrifice! Don't believe rigidly any of my translations. I didn't point this out, but it seems to me that עולה מרחם is parallel to בן־בטנה. I did not get into the place of this promise in detail (the time of the exile - the complaint that God had abandoned his people) since I had but 5 minutes. That would apply to a different lesson - this is just on prodigality.

I did not go to the other class since they were already in session. Perhaps one class a week is all I can manage.

I could not find the libretto online but here is the critical verse: "O! he was the prodigal of love! a spendthrift in devotion to us all"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dawn Treaders are launched

This morning we had two classes up and running both with a goodly quorum. Can one do five minutes a week with two classes?

The older class are doing parables for the next several weeks. Several of them have never had a lesson in Hebrew, so to give them just a little digging into the Old Testament, I chose Proverbs 1:6 as a verse to frame the sayings and I spelled out the word משלים (moshalim). Next week I will do more with Psalms - maybe psalm 78. The OT is full of parables, stories as parable, proverbs and dark sayings. Job, for example, is parable. Parable is not new in the NT.

In the younger class - aged 3 to 9 we sang the shema and they sang it beautifully. I am really impressed with these young voices.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Epiphany delayed

Today we did Epiphany and I got back to Sunday school after a six-week hiatus for a five minute Hebrew lesson. With several new children there I introduced the word Hallelujah as one Hebrew word that everyone would know. After my very short talk, the leader invited us to sing a Hallelujah to the tune and descant of 'Seek ye First'.

I used Psalm 117 as the introduction to this word because Psalm 117 invites all the world into the praises of the Psalter. See this post for the whole psalm. Our little wooden block book of the Psalter shows its name as תְהִלִּים Tehillim, prayers and praises. It is the largest book at 150 chapters but it contains the shortest chapter - Psalm 117.