Hall of Fame

sunday schoolLast Sunday our church honored those brave, hardy souls that came week after week to teach squirrelly children about the love of Jesus in Sunday school. These are people who intentionally chose to not sleep in on Sunday mornings for a good nine months. They volunteered knowing that antsy little boys and chatty little girls would ask unbelievably hard questions about God and life and the universe.  Some of our teachers who serve week after week also have been faithful year after year.  If there was a Sunday School Teacher Hall of Fame, I would have several inductees.

Being a Sunday school teacher can be daunting and thankless.  So, at the close of the school year, we sing the praises of these unsung heroes.

After applauding the sacrifice and dedication of these wonderful people, the congregation settled in for PB’s sermon.  He was preaching on Hebrews 11 – the great “Faith Hall of Fame” chapter.  The writer names several giants of the faith like Abraham and Moses, but ends the chapter with many unnamed saints who “faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.  They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.”

That jarring statement suddenly made teaching Sunday school look pretty tame.

So far, not one of our teachers has been sawed in two.

What we call “sacrifice”, the saints of old might have called “privilege”, “opportunity to serve”, or even “joy”.  Until I am chained and put in prison, maybe I better rethink the use of the word “sacrifice”.

Connected

See these nice sturdy cement block walls?

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They are built to last.

See these durable ceiling tiles?

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They are firmly fixed in place.

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And outlets?  How many outlets does one building wing need?

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Back in 1965, nobody was thinking about wireless internet connections.

The word “internet” didn’t even make the dictionary until twenty years later.

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Today, a nice young man came to look things over and help us set up Wi-Fi.

He spent two and a half hours walking around, taking pictures and jotting down notes.  Pages and pages of notes.

Bless him.  He’s got his work cut out.

I’m sure glad the Spirit of God isn’t hindered by brick walls or immovable tiles.  I’m so relieved I don’t need wires or ethernets or modems or routers.

I just need to say, “Abba, Father.”

Connected.

Pandas

For someone in my position (Christian Education Director at a church), there are two major defining moments each year: the Christmas Program and Vacation Bible School.  Over the past six years that I’ve been doing this, we’ve had some pretty memorable performances in December.  The kids work hard and start memorizing songs and lines in October.  We do it up big with staging and lights and costumes.  On the day of the program, the place is packed with parents and grandparents.  The kids inevitably rise to the occasion and the congregation always gives them a standing ovation.  It’s a glorious feeling of accomplishment for the young folks.  (See December 20, 2010 post)

VBS, however, is a whole different thing.  For this event, adults are the ones who work for months to pull off a big 4 day party for the kids.  In January, we begin scouring thrift stores and sale racks for decor that fits the theme.  We put out a call to start collecting whatever the craft person is going to need in abundance, whether it’s toilet paper cardboard tubes or empty tin soup cans.  We go all out to make sure the kids who come through our doors have a blast at church.  (See June 29, 2010 post)

This year’s theme is “Pandamania: Where God Is Wild About You”. We will be creating an Asian bamboo jungle, with lots of panda bears.  At first I thought this was going to be tough.  I have no stuffed pandas in the storage closet and no bamboo growing in my backyard. 

But it’s amazing what happens when you begin looking with an eye for something specific.  At the Dollar Store, lo and behold: a whole crate full of little panda puppets and stacks of Chinese lanterns.  At Goodwill, whadya know: a pile of 6 foot tall fake bamboo.  In my own sewing cabinet, voila: fabric that will make a great waterfall.  Suddenly, I am seeing this stuff everywhere!  It’s like my mind is directing my eyes to see what I normally would overlook. 

I think the same thing happens with God.  Going through my day without an awareness of God, or “an eye” for Him,  I am more likely to be oblivious to His wondrous activity all around me.  When my focus is on pandas, they seem to show up everywhere.  When my focus is on God, He does, too.