By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist
Learning Bible stories with flannel boards was a very significant aspect of my childhood spiritual heritage. Flannel boards went right along with Bible School, Sunday school, Training Union and Mrs. Kitten Skarda who taught children using flannel boards.
Flannel board teaching was simple. It was a cardboard covered with flannel material. Then the characters of the Bible were paper but had a flannel backing. As a teacher would teach, she or he stick one of the characters or scenes on the flannel board.
Through my flannel board years, I walked with Moses on dry ground and huddled with Daniel in the lion’s den. I witnessed a crippled man being let down from an opening in the roof of a house so he could see Jesus and be healed. I will never forget that one. The flannel board picture scene showed the man on the cot that was attached to ropes and men on the rooftop were letting him down. Pieces of the roof were scattered on the floor and all the other people in amazement as the man came through the ceiling.
I viewed Jesus walking on the water toward the terrified disciples who were caught in a dangerous storm. The flannel board helped me, as a child, to be an eye in my mind to the great events of the Bible.
About four years ago, I had a little Bible school in my backyard with about ten children. My sister Susie played the piano, and Mother decided to bring her old flannel board out of its hiding place in one of her closets. All the characters were there — Moses, Joshua, the woman at the well, young David and the older David, and Daniel and the fierce lions.
The old green faded flannel board brought back memories.
Mother started the story that I had heard many times in my lifetime: Jesus talking to the crowd on the hillside. The crowd was hungry, and there seemed to be no human solution to the problem.
But Andrew, one of the disciples, brought a little boy to Jesus. This little guy had five loaves and two fish. Mother put the little boy on the flannel board, and the children watched intently as Mother placed the picture of the “multitude” behind the figure of Jesus.
Mother explained about Jesus praying, blessing the five loaves and two fish and then passing out the food to all the people. Mother put the baskets on the flannel board. She said, “At the end there were baskets full of leftovers. They had more than enough to feed the people.”
Then she asked, “How did Jesus feed them all with just five loaves and two fish?”
There was silence and then a four year old spoke up: “Because it was Jesus!!”
I have heard that story many, many times but during this wonderful time with these little ones, something new came to me.
What if there had been no little boy, no bread and fish? What if there had been no food at all?
The miracle was Jesus — not the basket of food!
The lesson for me as a grown woman: the outcome in our lives does not depend upon the size or quantity of what we have. The outcome rests on the fact that we bring it and give it to God.
Grown me? No matter how old I get, there will always be lesson for me with the flannel board.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at: email@example.com