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Duce's Wild: Teens teach about the Atonement in Sunday School

Published: Thursday, March 14 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," Matthew 11:30.

Stacie Duce

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In the new “Come, Follow Me” Sunday School curriculum for the month of March, teens are encouraged to take what they know about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and practice teaching it to others.

Our class jumped at the opportunity to fill our hour together with object lessons, parables and visual learning. The following is a sample:

  • Borrowing the decorative tree from the church foyer for visual effect, two students paraphrased an analogy shared by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve. He said a person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. “On a windy and rainy day, the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin.” He said if we only focus on cleaning the leaves, then the weakness in the tree remains. “The Savior does more than cleanse that person from sin. He gives him or her new strength (in the trunk and roots),” they quoted. The rest of the class took a minute more to brainstorm other trees in parables and scripture stories to help us understand the gift of the Atonement.
  • The next two girls demonstrated object lessons from Susan Luke’s book “Experiments Upon the Word.” One filled a glass jar with a cup of vinegar, a pinch of salt and enough copper pennies to represent each student in the class. She also dropped in a clean, steel nail. By the end of class, the pennies were clean and the nail representing the Savior became discolored by absorbing the copper residue and dirt. The other object lesson involved filling a saucer with salt and then sprinkling pepper on top to represent sin. The girl then took a plastic spoon, rubbed it on a piece of wool to create some static and the pepper jumped from the salt and attached to the bottom of the spoon as it passed over the saucer. Both girls effectively taught the symbolism of the Savior’s grace in helping us become clean again during the repentance process.
  • The next set of students borrowed a vintage flannel-board story from the dark corners of our church’s library and told the parable of the Prodigal Son with insightful comments on the fact that we all need the Savior’s redemption because we all sin differently. They finished with a quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard, “Now, if for any reason you individually or as a family have lost your way, then you need only apply the Savior’s teachings from Luke, chapter 15, to correct your course. … Why did Jesus teach these parables? He wanted us to know that none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings.”
  • Another student told about the Christ-centered symbolism found in C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” with detailed meanings behind the characters and settings. It prompted a conversation on similar symbolism found in current literature and movies and the sharing of ideas continued throughout the week with Facebook posts on our Sunday School group’s private page.
  • Two boys hoisted a heavy, rustic horse’s collar over the head of another and talked about the symbolism found in the farming implement. (Yes, we’re in Montana, so we have those things lying around.) They also read from Matthew 11:28-30 about how the Savior’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.
  • The hour went swiftly as we were able to share three more object lessons. You can encourage your students in advance to bring their own teaching ideas to class or do like I did and bring all the supplies and give them five minutes to prepare.

    Our first Sunday lesson carried over into the second Sunday when some of the students brought children’s books from home libraries that teach principles of the Atonement. They read from or summarized:

  • “You Are Priceless: The Parable of the Bicycle,” by Stephen E. Robinson
  • “Prayer Time,” by Kathleen H. Barnes and Virginia H. Pearce
  • Disney’s “The Lion King”
  • “The Story of Easter,” by Alice Joyce Davidson
  • “Jesus Christ is our Savior,” a short story from The Friend magazine, March 2013
  • "David Gets In Trouble," by David Shannon
  • Next Thursday, I’ll share excerpts from dozens of emails I’ve received recently about making the most of teaching teenagers in Sunday School with the new curriculum.

    Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana and Utah publications. Her columns appear Thursdays on desnews.com. Email: duceswild7@gmail.com

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