“Sharing Time: The Atonement,” Friend, Mar. 1989, 39
When Paul H. Dunn of the First Quorum of the Seventy was eleven years old, baseball was an important part of his life. Paul’s parents permitted his team to use their large backyard for a baseball diamond. It was completely fenced in, with an alley running along the outside. Beyond the alley was a large church with a beautiful stained glass window that faced the center-field fence.
One hot summer evening an exciting baseball game was in progress in the Dunn backyard. Paul came to bat late in the game and hit an outside pitch. It looked like it might be the best hit he had ever made! The ball cleared the center-field fence, crossed the alley, and then, to everyone’s dismay, entered the church building through the large stained glass window some 260 feet away. It seemed to young Paul that the glass fell for hours. The players scattered in every direction.
When Paul got up the courage to return home, he discovered that his father had two visitors. They were both ministers from the neighboring church. To Paul’s surprise, they seemed to know from which house the baseball had come. Paul admitted to the ministers that he had hit the ball that had broken the window and told them that he was very sorry.
Paul’s father put his arm around his son’s shoulder, patted him on the head, and said, “This is a good boy.” He, too, apologized for the mishap and asked how much it would cost to replace the stained glass window. They told him that it would be about $500.
It was then that his father taught young Paul a great lesson. He asked the ministers if they understood the principle of Christ’s atonement. They seemed a little puzzled. His father said, “In our Church, we believe that ‘through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel’” (third article of faith). He explained that the atonement allows each of us to be forgiven of our sins if we repent. Jesus paid for all our sins when He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. As the only perfect person who ever lived on earth, He was the only one who could do this for us. We could not do it for ourselves. Without His sacrifice, we could never be forgiven of our sins and would not be able to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus again.
Paul’s father pointed out that although Paul had broken a window, he could never pay for it himself. His allowance of 25¢ a week would never pay for a $500 window. Taking his checkbook from his coat pocket, he wrote out a check for the amount needed and said, “As Paul’s father, and because I love him, I will pay the price that he cannot.”
This experience helped Paul understand what Jesus did for us when He atoned for our sins. At this Easter time we can be thankful that Heavenly Father loved us enough to send His Son so that we can be forgiven when we do something wrong.
1. Color flannel board figures, mount on heavy paper, then cut out. Affix tape, or glue small squares of sandpaper, to backs of figures so that they will stay on flannel board.
2. Using flannel board and figures, tell story to your friends or to your family during family home evening.
Ask children to prepare flannel board figures or to make figures into puppets by attaching flat sticks to backs. Let children choose partners and tell story to each other.
Tell story to children, then let them dramatize it. Use simple costumes.
Write Atonement vertically on chalkboard or large piece of paper. With children’s help, use word or phrase describing Atonement, beginning with each letter. For example: Atonement, The Only Begotten, Obedience, Not Easy, Eternal, Mankind, Everlasting, Nail, Testimony.
Sing songs about sacrament, such as “Our Savior’s Love” (Sing with Me, C-2) and “As I Eat the Broken Bread” (Sing with Me, C-1)
Write each word of third article of faith on separate piece of paper, mix them up, and give each to different child. Have children put words into correct order.