This Sunday School lesson about Saint Pachomios should be entitled: Preaching by example!
Because actions speak louder than words.
This week’s Sunday School lesson about Saint Pachomios, the father of Communal Monasticism, was an exercise in humility for me because I am ashamed to admit that I had never read the details of his life before this week. This is yet another proof that I benefit from serving far more than my students can ever benefit from my lessons!!
Summary of his life:
Saint Pachomios was born to pagan parents and was a soldier in the army of the Roman Empire, which is to say, he was not a likely candidate for the future role of the founder of Communal Monasticism.
In the year 290, he spent a night in prison in the city of Esna (in Upper Egypt). The army was preparing to attack the city as part of the internal wars being fought by various factions of the Roman Empire.
The Christians of the city went to the prison to minister to the soldiers and brought them food and drink. Saint Pachomios was shocked by their kindness. His fellow soldiers explained to him the reason behind the Christians’ gesture. This was neither a peace offering, a bribe, nor a way to soften the hearts of the soldiers. This was simply putting in practice what Christians believed in: loving your neighbor as yourself.
Saint Pachomios was so taken by this belief that he vowed to become Christian should he survive this campaign. Not only did he convert, but he also established Communal Monasticism and founded many monasteries!
You can read about his life here.
How to present his life to a young audience:
I was searching for a visual aid to explain the power of leading by example because I wanted an introduction to the lesson that would engage the class and lead to a discussion about preaching by acts and not by words. After all, Saint Pachomios was drawn to Christianity because of the acts of kindness of the Christians before he ever listened to any Christian sermon!
A simple act of kindness can turn a heart towards God.
A simple act of love can resonate for years to come.
I found this excellent video that helped illustrate the point- prepare your Kleenex box before clicking on the link!
P.S. I cried while watching the videos in class – not my best moment!
Discussion Questions following the video:
The children had brilliant answers to all of them:
- What are the important Christian virtues to practice?
- How can we set a good example?
- How can we love those who are difficult to love?
Conclusion of the lesson:
Preaching by setting a good example is more effective in converting hearts and minds than a thousand sermons will ever be!
Other Sunday School Lesson Plan: Which commandment do we follow?
Recommended Children’s Book on this topic: Philo and the SuperHolies
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