“Wake up, Jesus! Wake Up!” It was Bible story time under a shady tree in the Park in Brooklyn, New York, and the kids were taking turns playing Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of a storm. “Wake up, Jesus!” they shouted as they pretended to be frantic disciples. “The kids enjoyed acting out this and other Bible stories all week,” said Rev. Bart McNiel, who was in charge of the Bible Story station in Brooklyn each day. The children playing Jesus were told to remain sound asleep and to wake up only after the disciples shook them by the shoulders and shouted. After a lot of laughter, the children would scream, “Wake up, Jesus!” And then Jesus would sit up and say, “Peace, be still!” Then the kids would play a “freeze” game where Rev. McNiel would say, “Peace, be still” as the signal to freeze in place.
As the Bible Story time came to a close with one group, the children sat in a circle to talk about the ways that they can find peace in the middle of scary situations. In one group, a child raised her hand and said, “Did Jesus use a pillow on the boat? Do you think that Jesus ever hit his pillow when he was upset?” Rev. McNiel paused a few seconds and said, “Yes, I think Jesus might have done something like that. What do you think?” The child shrugged her shoulders, “It helps me feel better sometimes to hit my pillow, and next time I hit my pillow I am going to also say, ‘Peace Be Still.’ I like those words.” Reflecting on that moment, Rev. McNiel said, “It is one thing to read scripture, but it is another thing for scripture to find its way into our heart. In my mind I said a little prayer for that little girl to do just as she said she would—for her to remember the words ‘Peace Be Still’ next time she felt like she needed to hit her pillow.”