by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
The last days of our month for patriotic celebrations are fast ticking away. Finally, there are no more distant fireworks ‘bangs.’ I still enjoy seeing flags waving in front of many homes in my park. There’s still a surge of pride and gratitude that I was born in this land of the free and home of the brave. Despite nearly two years of ugly rhetoric and outright mud-slinging, I still thank God that my parents were Americans and that I enjoy many of the hard gained privileges so many sacrificed their lives for nearly 250 years ago. I wonder, only, that I express this gratitude, much less think of it, so seldom.
If you have growing children still living under your roof, or if you are responsible for a group of them in a Sunday School class or club setting, why not put on a great summer barbeque and design activities that will pass along some challenges to remember where we’ve come from, what we still have, and where God fits into the picture? If you’re reaching out to mainly preschoolers, you’ll be challenged by the following ideas which are probably a bit beyond them. Maybe some of the older siblings can come up with things for the younger kids if you invite them into the planning.
The Declaration of Independence
You may download it in full from online sources. It is truly a well-crafted document, though some of the language is a little archaic. For our purposes, we’ll use only the first three paragraphs. If you are working with older children and teens who are already word smiths and enjoy ‘decoding’ language, you might challenge them ahead of time to re-write these paragraphs in ‘modern English.’ Otherwise, it will work if you let confident readers practice before hand so they can read the paragraphs aloud slowly and clearly with everyone else following along from their printed copies. Provide a glossary of words that might need explaining. Then set them to the task of coming up with at least seven main ideas contained in this beginning of the Declaration.
For instance, these might be ideas that would work:
- listing the reasons for declaring independence from Great Britain
- listing some inalienable rights (This is probably the most famous part of the whole document and where you’ll want to set your focus.)
- the kind of government entrusted to protect these rights
- the right of a people to replace a tyrannical government
- this action should not be taken lightly
- the proper motivation for overthrowing a government
- the time has come now to take such action to replace British government
If you want to take a short cut, you may have to do some of the ‘brainy’ work yourself and provide the seven main ideas before setting up the following part:
Life/ Liberty/Pursuit of Happiness
Explain or describe each of these inalienable rights and discover where God is in all of these. Once you’ve established the main meanings of the beginning paragraphs of the document, the task remains to discover the answer to the question above. You can turn this into a game and assign parts of the phrase to teams to work on and then come together to report. They can devise their answers in any way they like…posters, dramas, puzzles to solve, game shows, etc. Let them decide how they want to do it. Suggest that the Bible could be one valuable resource for their task. You may need to begin the process ahead of the event and make the barbeque (or whatever you decide to do to celebrate) the ‘report in’ session.
Whatever you do, it seems to me that a time of thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father would be appropriate. And that can be spontaneous, interactive, fun. I believe God invented humor and laughter, and he is pleased when he sees these kinds of things happening in and among the families that call themselves Christian – and American.
…land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above.