Today's lesson objective was "students will learn what a great blessing it is to have the words of the law available to them."
In order to keep the kids on track with this lesson, I had to help them understand the context. I explained the setting using the Bible dictionary entry we read the day before on Ezra. It was helpful to have that summary explanation read before class began.
For this lesson I had asked a student ahead of time to prepare a treat. She has been asking for an opportunity to cook for us, and this was the perfect chance. She made some kind of cinnamon muffins and 3 lbs of BACON for the whole class.
I wrote differing roles on some sticky notes and placed them under the kids' chairs. They included things like warrior, baker, brick maker, priest, scribe, queen, king, shepherd -- roles that would have existed in Nehemiah's day. I explained that today they should think of our treat as a great treasure: the scriptures. Who in this society was able to read the scriptures? The priest and scribe. I called up the lucky kids who sat at those positions and invited them to eat the treat and then describe how the food tasted to the rest us. They used words like "sweet" and "it makes me feel happy". I then asked the other students if the descriptions were good enough that they felt that they had tasted the food themselves. Would it be better to taste the treat themselves?
Nehemiah's people experienced something much the same. After years of hearing the gospel second-hand, Ezra opened the words of Moses, the Law, to the people, both men and women (and apparently children of an age to understand) (vv 1-3). In addition, learned men explained the meaning of these words to the people (v 7-8). The people were so touched that they wept when they heard the words of the law (v 9). This was the first time that the books of the law were shared with the people. They finally got to share in the treasure. After talking about what a blessing it is to be able to hold the words of the law in our hands and study them in freedom and liberty, we read verse 12 where the people understood the words and made merry and had a feast. Then we ate the treats as our feast-celebration of having the words of the law in our lives.
It went pretty well, I think. The kids were more than a little distracted by the food, which made keeping them focused a little difficult. It would have been better if I had put the treats in some sort of a box labeled scriptures and then had the priest and scribe pull them out to eat. It's easier to not be distracted when you're not *looking* at the treat! I could also have done a little better focusing on how the priest and scribe's description of the food related to the scriptures. They got it, though.