The lesson book suggested travel decorations because after Easter we will be talking about missionary journeys. I have a stack of National Geographic maps that I threw into my Sunday School bag.
I wrote out the briefest outline of a class plan. This class no longer wants to be babied. They are ready to explore the Bible on their own terms. I thought we might try a simplified Lectio Divina approach to the scripture. We would look at the story together, and we would share with each other the things that God was helping us to notice about it.
I went to bed exhausted on Saturday night. Didn't sleep much. Woke up drained and tense. Thought about whether I was fit to teach. Remembered that nearly always, being with the kids changes me.
As kids started to arrive I told them that I decided to let them decide how we wanted to decorate the class. I had maps. I had memory work posters. Did they want to get rid of everything from the last quarter? Were there projects that they still wanted to keep? Everyone got busy, and it was fun figuring out what to put where.
The lesson passage was the story in Mark of the rich young ruler. Each person opened a Bible and we began taking turns reading a few verses at a time.
It was a bit rowdy at first, and our first reader had to start over a second time in order to be heard but soon the room was still except for the voice of each reader in turn.
"What did you notice?" I asked. Everyone had thoughts about it.
We read it again, and I asked again."What did you notice this time?"
There were many responses.
- a camel going through the eye of a needle? Why did Jesus say that?
- why is it so hard for a rich person?
- why sell everything and give to the poor?
- remember the poor woman who gave everything she had? do rich people ever do that?
- maybe rich people are thinking more about what they want to buy and have a harder time giving?
- maybe rich people count on their money to take care of them instead of understanding that God takes care of them?
My preparations for teaching usually include making an assignment for them to complete during the week. I'd not had time to do that either, so I had blank pieces of paper. "What should our assignment be this week?"
A few ideas began to come out and then one of the kids said, "I think we should do something with what we just talked about. Let's do something that is giving!"
It was agreed. Everyone was to find a way to give that week. It could be money or time or caring. Be creative. Write down what happened.
A week later, our story was the story of the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. When we'd completed our usual preliminary activities we moved our chairs into a circle and I explained that today we are having a story that we've all heard many times before. It's tempting when we have a story like that to quit listening because we already know the story. But with the Bible, there can be new lessons to learn every time we read it. We are older. We might see things in new ways, or hear something that makes sense in a different way. So we are going to read the story again, even though we've read it many times before.
One of the kids piped up, "Can we tell you what we noticed again, like we did last week?"
They are getting it! God speaks to them, not just to me. In fact God speaks to me through them. It is good.