Just days before Easter, some 20 four- and five-year-olds descended on the Old Latin School in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and learned about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—some probably for the first time in their young lives.
This youngest group yet to visit the Old Latin School attends a local Kindergarten in Wittenberg. They were invited by the Old Latin School’s directors as a thank-you for their contribution to the building’s artwork.
“When the Old Latin School was dedicated in May 2015, Lutheran leaders from around the world brought crosses for each of our dormitory rooms,” said Rev. David Mahsman, managing director of the International Lutheran Society of Wittenberg (ILSW), which owns the building. “A friend in Wittenberg who helped throughout the renovation suggested that the crosses be placed on painted canvases so they would stand out. She also had the idea of letting children do the painting, so we tried it. We liked the results, they painted a dozen canvases, and we threw them a party. That also gave us a chance to tell them about Jesus.”
The ILSW’s other managing director, Kristin Lange, read to the children the story of holy week, the crucifixion, Easter and Christ’s ascension from a German-language children’s Bible.
“How could that be?” asked one little girl, unable to contain her shock when the story came to the resurrection. People don’t come back to life, she said.
Lange explained that yes, normally people can’t do that, but Jesus is God, and God can do anything. And God is stronger than death. She also explained sin, God’s love, forgiveness and that because of what Jesus did, we can all live again.
“I like that story,” another young pupil said when Lange had finished her reading.
The children also were treated to cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies baked by Mahsman’s wife, Lois. And they didn’t hesitate to ask for more! They also And they colored pictures of the cross, an angel and the empty tomb, as well as personalizing their own crosses made from oversized “popsicle sticks.” to take home to their families.
After crafts, Lange took them upstairs to show one of their canvases with a carved Luther seal behind it, and to connect how important the cross and what it means was to Martin Luther, and therefore this town. She challenged them to try to find crosses and Luther roses around town. One little boy asked, “Is that Luther’s heart?”
The Kindergarten teacher and other adults who came with the kids said that the kids had fun, and they made special note of their attentiveness and interaction during the story. Not only that, but she said they also were impressed that the children could still tell the Easter story the next morning.
— Rev. David Mahsman and Kristin Lange