The Crayon Kingdom
In children’s Sunday School this month, we have been talking about The Lord’s Prayer and bringing it to life as we study each phrase through crafts, play, music, story, and puppetry. It is full of so many difficult concepts and words that we recite by rote each week in worship, often half-heartedly. They are difficult for even adults to understand, so it is no wonder that children sometimes get confused.
I found these Lord’s Prayer "bloopers" on the Internet:
3-year-old Reese: "Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen."
A 4-year-old prayed, "And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets."
3-year-old Caitlyn prayed, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from e-mail. Amen."
I will second that last pray with an AMEN! And I think that the 4-year-old kiddo might just be a young theologian, accidentally equating sins with trash and those who sin against us as putting "trash in our baskets" – definitely a little sermon in that!
In addition to learning the actual words for this prayer, we are striving to learn its true meaning. And one of the beautiful bi-products, or blessings, of preparing lessons for children in Sunday School is gaining a deeper, fresher faith myself.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit guides me to just the right resource to really make a spiritual connection. This was the case with a lovely little storybook I found in the children’s library called The Crayon Kingdom by Jennie Bishop.
I previewed it with my own children on the couch one day, and they have asked for it several times since. The best part was discovering the scripture at the end that came into our lives and home just when we most needed it.
"How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!" (Psalm 133:1) This might just become our Manders family mantra for the summer!
As a metaphor for God’s kingdom here on Earth, The Crayon Kingdom tells the story of many different crayons of the kingdom getting along in harmony, working together to create beautiful, colorful scenery in the "paper valley"– flora and fauna, skies and seas, trees and birds, mountains and meadows, sunrises and sunsets.
But one day, they decide to separate into groups by color so that they can be among those most like them. They go their separate ways only to find that without each other they are much more limited, and the beauty of the kingdom suffers.
The brown crayons no longer have green leaves for the trees. The green crayons no longer have colorful petals for their flowers, and the red roses have no stems.
"Father Crayon looked at all his children, divided into their neat groups of appearances, gifts, and abilities. He saw all the pictures made of single colors, which were not as pretty as the old pictures…and he cried."
One of his big tears lands on Green Crayon, and Green’s heart suddenly feels very sad. One day, after drawing his 500th brussels sprout, Green decides enough is enough and sets out to find his old friends of different color.
Following Green's lead and their hearts, harmony is restored among all the crayons of the Kingdom.
"Now the citizens of the Crayon Kingdom work together to draw the magnificent pictures that make up their world. They sing and dance and play as they color. They are happy because they know their Father Crayon is watching them and enjoying the masterpiece that they are creating."
Turns out he is watching. On the last page, we see the beautiful rainbow that is released in pride and happiness as "the colors of his love spill across the sky!"
May it be so in God’s kingdom "on earth, as it is in heaven." Amen.
Read The Crayon Kingdom to your child as you let them explore with a box of crayons and a big piece of blank paper. Then try "coloring" The Lord’s Prayer together as you recite it.
You can also view this video of children of different colors reciting The Lord's Prayer.