Children’s Message: Footprints

Yesterday, for our Annual Meeting and conference, PA IPL member University Mennonite Church hosted the worship service.  Following the opening hymns, Bethany Spicher Schonberg offered a fantastic children’s message that could be used in many contexts and any faith community.   On request, she wrote it up for us.  I hope many of you will use it!

Footprints on the Earth: Helping Children Understand Environmental Impact

Materials needed: a globe, a giant boot, a tiny toy shoe (the one from Monopoly works great)

Show children the globe. What do you see here? A globe, yes. This is a way for us to imagine the world – the earth – because the real one is too big for us to see! We’re sitting on the earth right now, right about here. Show location on the globe. Who made this earth that we’re sitting on? Who made the light, the sky and oceans, trees and animals and all the continents that we see on the globe here? God did. And God gave this earth to us to care for and to walk on.

Now, there are two ways that we can walk on this earth. We can walk in big shoes or little shoes. Show two shoes. If I were to step in the mud with this shoe (show giant boot), what sort of footprint would I make? And what if I stepped in the mud with this shoe (show tiny shoe)? If I were trying to walk around this globe here, what shoes would work best? What if I wanted to dance on this globe? 

It’s the same with the real earth. Whenever we use something on the earth – like water – we’re making a footprint. And whenever we throw something away – like a piece of paper – we’re making a footprint. We can make big footprints or little footprints. So, here’s a test. If I turned on the water and let it run for an hour, is that a big or little footprint? What if I turned on the water just long enough to get a drink? And if I colored on ten pieces of paper and then threw them all away, is that a big or little footprint? What if I colored on one piece, turned it over and used the other side and then recycled the paper?

This week, whenever you use something from the earth or throw something away, think about your footprint on the earth. Is it a big stomping footprint or a little dancing footprint? God gave us the earth to walk on and God can teach us to walk in smaller shoes.

Close with a prayer.  

Micah and Bethany Spicher Schonberg
Plowshare Produce

Nothing more than nothing

During lunch at PSU IPL’s  Positively Green event, Cricket Hunter read this story, which someone passed on to her many years ago.  If anyone recognizes it, please let us know so that we can properly attribute it.

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake” a coalmouse asked a wild dove.

“Nothing more than nothing” was the answer.

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story” the coalmouse said.  “I sat on a fir branch close to the trunk when it began to snow; not heavily, not in a raging blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence.  Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch.  Their number was exactly 3,471,952.  When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch — nothing more than nothing — as you say — the branch broke off.”

Having said that, the coalmouse fled away.  

The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself “Perhaps there is only one person’s prayer lacking for peace to come to the world.”

Cricket adds: the small choices I make daily and weekly to reduce my impact on the world are my prayers, my contributions to a healthier climate.  Today I hung the clothes on racks in my living room, and my family and I are using only cold water in the handwashing sink during Lent.  What were your snowflakes today?