Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reminder of What Church Is All About

Sometimes one of my parishoners reminds me of what church is all about. Rachael teaches a children's Sunday School class and posted this article on Facebook. I asked her permission to share it on my blog. I hope it inspires you like it does me.

When my 5 year old was only 3, the church needed teachers for 2-3 year old Sunday school class. In a fit of insanity, I volunteered. I figured it would be good attention for my youngest son. After all, he spent all his time getting dragged to activities for his older brothers. Also, the church family had been wonderful. We all participated in different activities, so I figured it was my turn to contribute. I thought I could do it for a year, especially since I was splitting it with someone else.

Now, I am not sure how these things are supposed to end. But, I really don’t want it to. I have been blessed by the most amazing children. The class is very small, but the faces change over time. They change because they are growing, but they also change because they move up and new children come in.

I have done this long enough now, that I started having emotional moments of reflection. One hit me hard tonight. Joe and I were talking about girls. He complained, “Mom, there is a girl at school that always looks at me and says, ‘hi’. She is from church. I don’t know why she does that.” I started naming kids from church that I know attend his school. Finally, I guessed correctly, “Anna!” I love Anna! Anna is so sweet. I am very attached to that little girl. She used to attend my Sunday school class. One day, a couple years ago, when my boys were being typical boys, she looked at me and said, “My mom says that boys are weird.” What the boys were confirming by action, I confirmed with words. She and I have joked about it ever since.

This episode of reminiscing made me think of other kids that have been in my class and moved on. Connor was smarter than he should have been at that age, but he tried to be patient with me. It always tickled me when he would stare at me and sigh. Now when I see him somewhere else, he smiles and acts excited to see me.

Nicholas was always hilarious. His speech was delayed due to hearing problems. Being brilliant and having wonderful parents, he caught up very well. His progress was apparent one day when his mom walked in to pick him up. After she prompted him, he commanded, “Give me a minute” and turned around to continue playing. I’ve missed him and his smile since he moved up to the big boy class.

Many of the kids were shy about coming in the class at first. My beautiful Harper, with long curly hair, was one of those. She will turn 4 soon and I will miss her, too. She explained how she will have a princess party. For a month before her family vacationed in Disney World, she told me all about it. After she returned, she told me all about it. I love the way she talks about things that are important to her.

Aidan is my assistant teacher. She is actually a student, but she is very strict and could easily teach the class. I ask her to help pass out and collect supplies. She is very smart, but she runs a tight ship for such a young age group. I think she will be a strong business woman.

John is ready for college. He has a huge vocabulary. In the middle of a lesson, he will start singing a hymn. The first time, I expected him to stop after a few lines. Now, I know I have to interrupt. He will sing 4 stanzas of a complicated song whenever the spirit moves him. Also, he hasn’t seen the relevance in adding to someone’s name. While everyone else calls me “Miss Rachael”, he just says, “Rachael”. I love how he thinks for himself.

Carter is relatively new to our church. For the first few weeks, his mom stayed with him in class. He did not like to stay. When I walked in this past Sunday, he was playing like he had been here his whole life. He did a wonderful job participating and letting us get to know him better. He has the cutest little grin and he knows how to use it.

Our newest friend in the class is Bronwyn, she is so darling, but she is not used to our routine yet. She reminds me of every other child when they first moved up to Sunday school and how they grow into the class. She is more affectionate toward the water fountain than others have been. If we don’t watch her closely, she will get the little plastic dishes from the play kitchen and fill them with water.

Each of the children brings me so much joy. They are always happy to see me, whether in a restaurant, grocery store, or at church. Then I realize that I am their first Sunday school teacher. They are learning about Jesus, but they are also learning other things. They are learning to sit at a table for a lesson. They are learning to follow directions. They are learning how to color and make crafts. They are also deciding if they like coming to Sunday school. I pray that God will continue to do these things through me.

I am thankful that the parents entrust me with so much. I am thankful for the relationship that develops with each student. I am thankful for the opportunity to know the parents better. I am thankful for watching these children grow up in the church. I am thankful for what they do to my heart. I thought it was my turn to contribute, but all I do is receive. The blessings flood my life and overwhelm me with God’s love.