One of the things I love most about teaching in our parish church school is how profoundly and wonderfully the kids get the message of God’s redeeming love. Sometimes it can be hard to remember just how much they’re listening…and thinking, learning, and growing….in the midst of the wiggles and the giggles and the bouts of silliness and the endless questions about when we’re going to have snack, but listening they are. And sometimes they do get it.
The kids we teach range in age from 5 to 11. Some of the moments with them are profound, and some are just delightful and funny. I have so many favorite moments on a given Sunday that I can’t possibly recount them all, but here are a few of my favorites today:
- My seventh grade daughter, who assists us in teaching the class, leaning over and whispering to me during opening worship upstairs. She was reminding me that one of the kids had a birthday this week, so we would want to sing to him during church school (one of our traditions). She also reminded me that during church school prayer time, we should remember to ask a girl in the class about how her recent visit with her grandparents had gone. I nodded. Then without thinking, I leaned over and whispered back, “that’s good pastoring.” And it is. I love that my daughter is attuned to the lives of these younger kids and that she’s thinking about ways we can bless them and affirm the importance of the things going on in their lives.
- Of course, the kids can also drive her a bit batty, especially when they are in highly active mode as they were today. She can get easily overwhelmed by all the noise and activity. At one point today, she hauled off and shouted “Silence!” which miraculously did produce a lull. It also made me laugh (inwardly) as I suspect that all pastors, even the grown-up official kind with collars, might not mind doing that on occasion.
- The Bishop was here today, for his yearly visitation and to confirm one of the young adults in our congregation (now in her 20s, and we’ve known her since she was about 6!). The bishop gathered the kids and gave them a little talk about the ABUNDANT life we have in Christ, helping them to understand the word abundant. After the bishop prayed for and dismissed the kids, we took them downstairs and I was about to ask, as I always did, if there was anything in worship upstairs that they had particularly noticed or wanted to talk about. Before I could, a boy waved his hand and announced, “I noticed that the bishop has ABUNDANT eyebrows.” (Which is quite true by the way…our bishop’s eyebrows are most impressive!)
- The kids were listening to a puppet show in which the characters were talking about the verse in Corinthians about how one person sowed, and another watered, but God made things grow. The little boy nestled on my lap looked at me, and said, in a highly intrigued voice, “Does God make things grow? With his POWERS?”
- We were talking about the different gifts that God gives to different people in the church: all kinds of gifts, and all important and necessary. The kids were naming people in the church who did different things and some of their gifts, and I was pointing out that each and every one of them was also gifted and also an important part of the church. At which point a newly turned 10 year old piped up with the profound words: “my dad tells me my gift is that I’m vulnerable to letting God speak through me.” Well….yes. Wow.
- We were praying for our city of the day: Windhoek, Namibia. Most of the cities we’ve prayed for this year (we’re going A-Z) have been in the 10-40 window and have a lot of unreached peoples, but Windhoek has about a 90% Christian population. The kids were astounded…and impressed. “I think missionaries have done a good job there!”
- We were singing and dancing to a very African-inspired version of Galatians 5:1 (“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”) I called out, “If we’ve been set free by Jesus, why would we want to be slaves again to sin?” and one little boy hollered back, “Yeah, who would want to be a slave again? That’s just dumb!”) Amen, child. Amen.