Tomorrow we kick off a new year of Sunday School in our parish. I'm the point person for Sunday School this year, and D. and I jointly teach the pre-K/kindergarten and elementary grades. What that means is that, on a Sunday when enough of the pre-k/kindergarten age kids are there, I take them off to do the Bible storytelling time separately from the older elementary age, and then we all come back together for our missions moment, prayer time, and snack time. Since we're a small congregation, there are some Sundays when we don't have enough kids to do separate classes, and then we keep them all together the whole time -- though it's always a challenge with the little ones needing more wiggle time than the rest.
It keeps me on my toes knowing that I might, on any given Sunday, need to do the Bible lesson for 4 and 5 year olds. They have a whole different level of understanding as well as attention. It happens to be one of my favorite age groups to work with, so I welcome the challenge! I also find the preparation is often good for my own heart. Sometimes shaping the truths of the Scriptures in their simplest terms is not just what the little ones need. It's what I need.
And since we're working our way through the Bible with the kids over a few year period, I sometimes find myself faced with shaping a lesson on a portion of the Bible that not many packaged curricula for this age group tend to touch. A case in point -- this year we're kicking off with five weeks on the Psalms. My dear D., always so thoughtful when it comes to shaping the lessons for the older kids, has divided our focus over the weeks into the wisdom psalms, hymns, lament psalms, royal/Messianic psalms, and thanksgiving psalms.
So I find myself thinking through how to pull this into manageable, teachable pieces for the little guys, and here's what I've come up with:
~Staying on God's path/living God's way
~Telling God when we're sad
~Knowing God is our king
~Saying thank you to God
And really, when you think about it, aren't all five of those pieces part and parcel of the Psalms and of our lives as Christians? If we choose the wise way, not the foolish way, if we remember that God is worthy of our praise no matter what our circumstances and actively praise him, if we're honest before God and pour out our hearts when we're sad or lonely or afraid, if we remember that we serve the King of the universe (and nothing or no one else) and bow our hearts to him, and if we try to live each day as gratefully as we can, remembering to thank him for all he is and does -- well, that's a pretty good grounding for our spiritual lives, isn't it?
The poem I wrote and posted here yesterday, by the way, is very much a lament Psalm. I am tired and stressed and worn out on a lot of levels right now, in some deeper ways than I have ever felt those things before. But you know, it was good to bring my heart before the King and tell him what was on my heart. I learned how to do that from reading and loving and praying the Psalms.
And the Psalms, the prayer book of the community of faith, are not just for mid-life folks like me. They're for the little ones too.