Thursday, 11 July 2019

Can we use Fables in Chapel?

Photo by David Siglin on Unsplash

 Is it appropriate to preach using Aesop’s Fables?

I am not a Chaplain, but I do think that stories that engage our students and make them think certainly have a place in our religious education lessons and Chapel services. I have some wonderful books of wisdom stories on my shelf (thanks to Dr Stephen Harrison and his family for letting me borrow their treasured books!) and I love to delve in to these when I am seeking inspiration for my teaching. I have blogged about using these stories before - but someone mentioned them again and reminded me - so I am just sharing this idea again.

If you introduce a wisdom story in Chapel, students will often return to class, ready to delve deeper in to the story and its meaning. It can be a powerful way to connect Chapel with the classroom.  A great resource might be the website Wisdom Stories to Live By by Fr Philip Chircop, a Jesuit priest.

As an example, Man, Boy and a Donkey, is a great way to introduce a lesson on people pleasing. Read the story here. As Fr Philip puts it, “Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.”

I love the quote Fr Philip refers to, from Ralph Waldo Emerson : “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – 
From “Self-Reliance” in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first series of essays.

People pleasing has been linked to bullying  and social emotional problems. One Christian website,  notes, Living for the approval of others is never a worthy goal. Let’s face it; people pleasing is a moving target. We’ve all heard “You can’t please all the people all the time,” so if you’re a people pleaser, you will exhaust yourself trying to measure up to everyone else’s standard for success. When you bow to the standard of others, you’ll also lose peace of mind."

So what does the Bible say on this topic? I am sure you have lots of ideas already but why not think about the standards that God asks of us – to love God and to love others (Mark 12:30-31).

Joyce Meyer even has books on this subject of People Pleasing and Approval Addiction and reminds us to think about Colossians 3:23-24.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Joyce Meyer  explains that we can still care about the needs of others, but we need to take care if we have an unhealthy need to be accepted and approved by others.

Do we even have to mention Social Media? Think about Galatians 1:10. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I wonder if you have tried using Wisdom Stories as a provocation for you lessons or in Chapel yet? I think you could  plan an entire Term around Aesop’s Fables! These stories could be adapted for any age and there are plenty of resources available. I am sure your library will have a selection of relevant books ready to borrow!
Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash