Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reflecting on Isaiah 2:1-5

I had a request to write about one of the texts for the up-coming Advent season – with input from Central Africans.  It is hard for me to get that input since time I have there or they have here in GB is take up with a list of other topics.  So, I went for the next best thing – the class I am teaching at the Lutheran Theological and Biblical Training School.  I am teaching two hours once a week to introduce future catechists to the basic principles of pedagogy – for children and adults using catechism as the content. 

So, last week I have them a homework assignment to read, analyze, and reflect on the text cited below. (Pictures provide examples and non-examples of Isaiah’s vision in this text.)

Isaiah 2:1-5
Essaie 2:1-15
1The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem
2It shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the house of the
Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
And shall be raised above the hills;
And all the nations shall flow to it,
3And many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That he may teach us his ways
And that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
4He shall judge between the nations,
And shall decide for many peoples;
And they shall bet their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
5O house of Jacob, come, let us walk
In the light of the Lord.
1Prophétie d’Esaie, fils d’Amots, sur Juda et Jérusalem.
2Il arrivera, dans la suite des temps,
Que la montagne de la maison de l’Éternel
Sera fondée sur le sommet des montagnes,
Qu’elle s’élèvera par-dessus les collines,
Et que toutes les nations y afflueront,
3Des peuples s’y rendront en foule, et diront :
Venez, et montons a la montagne de l’Éternel,
A la maison de Dieu de Jacob,
Afin qu’il nous enseigne ses voies,
Et que nous marchions dans ses sentiers.
Car de Sion sortira la loi,
Et de Jérusalem la parole de l’éternel.
4Il sera le juge des nations,
L’arbitre d’un grand nombre de peuples.
De leurs glaives ils forgeront des hoyaux, Et de leurs lance des serpes ;
Une nation ne tirera plus l’épée contre une autre,
Et l’on n’apprendra plus la guerre.
5Maison de Jacob, Venez, et marchons
À la lumière de l’Éternel. 

Teachers among you will know that giving and assignment that is very clear in your mind does not mean that the students will understand it in the same way!  It was clear to me that when I asked them to identify what learners would need to know to understand the text I was thinking of the key points – literally and ways we can interpret the text to help others understand.  All of the papers I got this week took the example we had done in class the week before and modeled their work on that – not what I had meant at all!  I just laughed.

I had planned a 10-15 min. review of what they had done, but it turned into a 45 min. lesson with discussion.  They were distraught to have misunderstood.  I explained that that was part of pedagogy/teaching.  I can see now part of the reason it happened.  They are not reflective, nor used to applying knowledge they are given in class.  That is much more a way of learning we use in the US than it is here in Cameroon.  So, they wrote what they thought I was asking, based on their understanding and it didn’t match my expectations at all!  A learning experience for all. 

The homework also asked for their ideas about how we can apply the ideas in the text to make this world closer to Isaiah’s vision.  Here are some of their ideas.  

  • Use language and behavior toward others, especially in our Christian community, that are a model for others.
  • Building a roof together, Bohong, CAR, 10/2012
    •  Pray (I can't get the bullets to match! Please ignore)
    • Love our neighbors
    • Teach catechism so that they stand strong in their Christian faith
    • Teach people to walk together in the light of the Lord
    • Obey and respect the commandments
    • Do God’s will
    • Live our lives in Christ
    • Live in peace with those around you
    • Believe in God and obey Him
    • Teach others to fear God and to follow Him
    Destruction in Bohong, 9/2013
    •  Be servants of God as Isaiah was  (More spacing problems.  Please ignore!  Why won't this work for me today!!)
    During this class I also learned (again) that sometimes we need to step back from our original plan so that we can go forward together.  Here are some other questions I asked for which I got unexpected answers:
    Hoe for working in fields, GB Cameroon
  • What season is this?  Answer I expected – Pentecost.  They said – the time to give Harvest Offerings.  Each year in October, the various groups of a congregation collect money and gifts to offer as a part of this observance.
  • What is Advent?  The time of preparation (as expected!)  Preparation for what? God.  Well, OK, but I expected them to say for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • How long is Advent?  Various answers: 2 week? 3 weeks?  I hope you know the real answer to that question – 4 weeks.

We must never forget that learners know things, but don’t always know they know – and sometimes know incompletely.  This is why we all need to become life-long learners.  There is always more to understand that will help us live better lives. 

Bible School Director and others working in fields, GB, Cameroon
So, as Advent approaches, maybe you can meditation on the question that I asked these Bible School students: 

What can we teach or do to help bring Isaiah’s vision closer to reality in our world?  Try to think of specific examples that we can put into practice.  (I didn’t add that part for the students, but wish I would have.  We all need to consider our specific actions and their consequences.)

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