Monday, June 21

The Boy Jesus in the Temple Through the Eyes of James

I have started a series of dramatic readings for Christmas intended to be acted/dramatically read to children.  We are using them during Advent/Christmas/After Advent Ordinary Time  for our God’z Kidz Wednesday night group (Godly Play).  I thought having a dress-up box for the kids to play with fits right in with the Godly Play philosophy.  So, that’s what we’re doing!  I am also writing a little story book for the kids to take home and read the story in a more traditional manner.  This is the last script in the series.  We are starting on "Jesus was Jewish:  The Celebrations of Judaism" next!  If you use these stories, please understand that they are my creative work and I’d like to be credited.

Here is the young James' story:

Hi! How are you doing today? I have to tell you…I am TIRED OUT! By the way, my name is James. I have a pretty big family. My mother is Mary, my dad is Joseph, and I have 4 brothers…Simon, Judas, Joseph, and Jesus. I also have some sisters, but we don't really want to talk about them, do we? I didn't think so. Jesus is our oldest brother. Then Joseph … he's eleven. Me, I'm nine. And then Judas and Simon are 5—they are twins! And then my sister, Elizabeth is 6, and, wait, I can't even remember. We have a very big family! After all, the holy scriptures say that good Jewish families should populate the earth. It was a promise made to the father of our faith, Abraham. That the children of Abraham would populate the world like how many stars there are in the sky! That's how many Jews there would be.

I love having a big family, though. There is always somebody to play with. But my favorite is Jesus. He always takes time to play with me. My favorite game is Kugelach. You take 5 stones. Hold one stone in your hand and put four stones on the ground. You toss the one stone in the air and see if you can pick up another stone while the other stone is still in the air. Then you do it again. Toss a stone in the air, and try to pick up two stones while the one stone is still in the air. You have to be fast! But I can almost beat Jesus. Almost. Well, when I'm as old as he is, I will beat him!!

Oh, wait, I was going to tell you what happened! Every year, our whole family and most of our friends travel to Jerusalem for Passover and visit the Temple. It is very important to visit and worship God. Actually, we have just gotten back from visiting Jerusalem. When we were there this last time, my mom and dad did their normal stuff. Passover is the time when we celebrate that God freed us from the Egyptians. It is a super important time and we get to have a huge meal and celebration of God's power and wisdom together.

Anyway, we finished the Passover and it was time to go. We had to pack all of our stuff up. But I kept my stones for Kugelach with me! I thought I could convince Jesus to play a game or two on the long walk home. I'd much rather play games than walk. Yuck.

So we started home and I was just walking with mom. She is so beautiful. I love to listen to her. She is smart too! She thinks that something big is going to be happening in Jerusalem too. She didn't tell me what she thought would happen, though. It's a mystery. I was walking with mom and holding her hand. We'd been going for about a day when I thought I could get away from mom, find Jesus, and play a game of Kugelach. I told mom that I was going to find Jesus. She said he was probably with dad. I ran over to dad who was traveling with the men and looked all around. I didn't see Jesus! Maybe he was playing with somebody else! Now I was getting mad. Nobody was helping me and I wanted to play Kugelach NOW!

I finally just went up to dad and asked dad if he had seen Jesus. My dad said, "no." Hmm. That made me wonder. I ran up to mom and asked her the same thing…"have you seen Jesus?" She said, "no." Hmm. That also made me wonder. Where was Jesus? So I got all my brothers and sisters together and we decided to go all over looking for Jesus. Even little Sarah, just three years old, helped in her little way. Nobody could find him. I was beginning to get that horrible feeling in my stomach when something bad happens. Do you ever get that feeling? Yeah?

I was beginning to feel frightened. Where was Jesus? Where was my favorite brother? I finally ran back to mommy and grabbed her and hugged her. When I hugged her, I started crying. I burst out that Jesus was missing. That nobody had seen him. You should've seen HER face after that. She turned as white as a ghost! She ran over to dad and talked to him. It turns out, neither of them had seen Jesus in over a day. That means nobody had seen Jesus since we were in Jerusalem. Oy vey!

Mom and dad talked to their friends about needing to leave the caravan and to go back to Jerusalem to find Jesus. So we all turned around and walked all the way back to Jerusalem. I was getting mad. With every step all I could think of was that I was never going to let Jesus win at Kugelach again!

We walked and walked. And then when we got to Jerusalem, mom and dad went to the place we stayed at and he wasn't there. They looked in all the streets, he wasn't there. They even went to their friend's houses and he wasn't there! Where was Jesus? My mom was crying. She looked really scared. My dad's face was beginning to turn a weird purple color. He was definitely angry.

Just as they were about to give up hope, they decided to do the only thing left to do. Go to the Temple and pray. So we all bundled up and went over to the Temple. My mom stayed outside with us while dad went in to make a sacrifice and to pray for Jesus' safe return. And guess what?! Jesus was at the Temple! My dad's face turned purple again when he saw Jesus. He was ready to drag him out of the Temple when the Chief Rabbi came up and talked to dad. I could see them talking on the steps but I couldn't hear them. Then they all came down together. Dad, Jesus, and the Rabbi. When the Rabbi saw me, he could tell I was watching what they were doing. He came over and said, "You have a very special big brother. You take care of him, okay?"

I thought that was really weird. So after the Rabbi left, I asked dad what he meant. Dad told me that when Jesus was in the Temple, he spoke with the teachers about the scriptures in such a way that showed he was very wise and filled with God. And when dad was going to take Jesus home, Jesus had looked at him and said, "Where did you think I would be? Of course I am in my Father's house!" Meaning that the Temple of God was his Father's house. Jesus was saying that God was his Father! Sometimes Jesus could be so weird. But, he was back and we were on our way home. Now, maybe, I could get him to play a game of Kugelach with me.

And now the story in story format…

One day, Jesus and his family were traveling to Jerusalem to go to the Temple to celebrate Passover. Passover is the celebration of the time when Moses was alive and led the Israelites to freedom and away from the Egyptians. On the last night in Egypt, God told everybody to mark their homes and then God’s angel would ‘pass over their homes and would instead just visit punishment on the Egyptian homes. So the Israelites were safe. Then the Israelites left and went through the Red Sea. God parted the waters for them! It is an important festival that is celebrated every year.

After celebrating Passover, Jesus and his family were set to return home. They were travelling with a bunch of families. Mostly, the men walked together and the women and children walked together. Jesus was twelve years old which makes him almost old enough to be a man. Usually, Israelite children become adults at the age of 13. So Jesus kind of looked like a man, but he was really a child. Mary thought Jesus must be walking with the men and Joseph thought Jesus must be walking with the women.

Finally, after almost a whole day walking, Mary and Joseph figured out that Jesus was not with them. Uh oh! They talked, gathered the whole family together...James, Joseph, Simon, Judas, and all of the sisters...and went back to Jerusalem. When they got to Jerusalem, they looked everywhere! They went to the place that they had slept and he wasn’t there. They went to the place that they had the Passover meal and he wasn’t there. Where could he be?

Finally, the went to the Temple. And there he was. He was talking to the Rabbis about scripture. The Rabbis all thought that Jesus was wise beyond his twelve-years. He was just a boy and he was able to tell the Rabbis wonderful things!

When Joseph and Mary saw him, they ran up to him with worried and joyful expressions. Mary picked him up. Then he turned to Mary and Joseph and said, “Where else would I be? Of course I am in my Father’s house!”

Mary and Joseph had no idea what he was talking about because they were so happy to find him. Jesus then obeyed his mother and father and went home with them. And over time, he just got smarter and wiser and grew closer to God.

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