- Bible stories/passages related to the theme: The parable of the Good Samaritan for “Who is my neighbor?” or 1 Corinthians 13 for “What is love?”
- Collected pieces related to the theme: Just this week I used a YouTube video a friend had posted on FaceBook to illustrate the power for good that creativity with words can have. I also use sources like the end of “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis for implications of people being made in the image of God on how we treat our neighbor; anecdotes from John Ortberg books about having a mission or making a difference; a news story that illustrates people’s inhumanity to each other or the possibility of grace when a person risks stepping out of the bystander role to love a neighbor.
- Devotional by the author we are reading. The most serendipitous discovery of my life along these lines was the devotional Instrument of Thy Peace by Alan Paton, whose novel Cry, the Beloved Country we study. I edit and excerpt as I read, but in the devotions, Paton expounds on many of the themes we talk about as we read the novel, and it becomes clear that the teacher is not making applications that had never crossed the author’s mind!
- My own creation: Really just an expansion of the first one--finding a number of Bible stories and passages and drawing out the themes. Yes, this is the most work, but also the most fun. For my introductory unit, I actually wrote up a model biblical perspective essay expanding the unit’s enduring understanding “Because people are made in the image of God, we are creative, communicative truth-seekers.” I give students copies, and then read and discuss a paragraph per day. Less intensive, right now I have notes I’m talking through for our grammar unit devotions about a creation/fall/redemption/restoration perspective of language. They include the juxtaposition of the story of Babel and the story of Pentecost and the creative range God gave Adam in naming the animals.
If you are a first period teacher in a Christian school, and you have a couple of extra minutes added to first period in which to open with devotions, how do you or could you use that time to connect kids’ faith with what they are about to learn?