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Monday, February 6, 2012

Adventures in Faith: Atonement and Propitiation

I know, big word, right?!? Try teaching what those words mean to elementary students. Well that is what I tried to do last Wednesday night. Backing up a bit...Our church has a Wednesday night program for elementary aged students called Kids 4 Truth. It is an awesome program, and I love the way it is implemented. There are a group of core teachers that work with the children every week, and each week there is a guest teacher and a guest game leader for the group time. I do the guest teaching a few times a year (and Daniel does the guest games leader). Having a 'special guest' really changes things up each week for the kids, and I think it helps them remember the lessons better. Also, for the people with an interest in helping with kids programs but cant make a weekly commitment - it is perfect. 

So back to atonement and propitiation...I got my lesson a few weeks before my teaching date and started reading over it to get an idea of how I wanted to present the lesson in my alloted 15 min. God really used a story in the curriculum (and then one in real life) to help me understand and explain these theologically packed words to the kid-os and I just wanted to share them with you!

The story from the curriculum (slightly adapted by me) went as followes: 
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived on a farm. This boy was a hard working boy and every day in the summer he worked on his family's farm. He worked in the fields and he worked with the animals. He worked in the garden and he worked in the barn. 
At the end of the day his shoes were filthy
(There is lots of yucky stuff to step in on a farm!!!) 
We was ready to go inside at the end of the day, but when he walked up to the door, 
he had a problem.
 He couldn't wear his dirty filthy shoes into the house. 
His father couldn't stand dirt in the house. 
So, he stood outside the door, thinking maybe he could clean his shoes off and then go inside.
 But try as he did, the shoes were still dirty. Just then his father came outside and told him,
 "Son, I will take your dirty shoes for you, and I will wear them myself. And I will give you MY nice, clean, new, shoes to wear." So the father took the dirty shoes and put them on and the son put on his new clean shoes!

Now, to explain: The dirty shoes symbolize out dirty sinful lives. No mater how we try, we can not clean ourselves of our sin. My own personal story about this comes from my wonderful hubby! He wears work boots to work and often they get quite filthy. The other day he put on his boots to get ready for work and then remembered he needed something in the living room...well it was not to much later that he walked past me with a broom to clean up all the dirt that had fallen off his boots onto the living room floor! Sin is the same. Just a little bit can get everywhere! 

God made a way for us to be cleansed of our sins! He sent Jesus to die on the cross be our atonement - to take away our old muddy shoes and to wear them as His own. He doesn't just go poof and make our dirty sins disappear. Oh no, He took those dirty shoes (our sins) and he wore  them as His own. Taking the punishment for our sins and paying the price in full by dying on the cross for us. Jesus is also our propitiation, because of His sinless, perfect life that he lived and gave up on the cross He gives us His new clean shoes. His death is our peace offering as He was the Perfect sacrifice. 

We drew pictures of new shoes and wrote the words atonement under one shoe, and propitiation under the other. We also read 1 John 2:2 
"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, 
and not only for ours but also for 
the sins of the whole world."
The kids seemed to understand (which I have to give total credit to the Holy Spirit on that one! These are some hard words!) and even the other adult teachers said the lesson helped them!

Do you have any favorite stories that help explain complicated words/ideas? I would love to hear about them!


  1. What a great way to explain a difficult sounding concept.

  2. Good analogy, Veronica! I like the way you explained it.

  3. I came over from your guest visit.
    I will sign up to follow and would LOVE to have you come over and follow me as well.