I have never been a morning person. So why, as a child, was I willing to get up and go to a Sunday school class that was held in the morning? I’m convinced that it was because I had teachers who knew how to welcome a diverse bunch of children to the classroom with comfort, connections, and continuity.
In the classroom, comfort was everywhere. There was a familiar face who greeted us and called us by name as we arrived. There was room at the table for all who came. The tired and the hungry were given space to be tired and hungry. Our questions, as well as our answers, were embraced with ease. And best of all, we could be ourselves in this safe place, whether we were feeling strong and courageous or afraid and discouraged (Joshua 1:9).
Connections were a priority, and class time was designed with teamwork in mind. When concerns for family members, neighbors, and those who were hurting around the world were shared, the class would collectively wrap those concerns in heartfelt prayers for mercy and healing. As an alternative to having one person read the Bible story, teams would be assembled to create and enact scenes from that story, helping all to connect with the story and each other. Craft projects included purpose, so group time was spent making inter-generational connections by decorating cookies that would be delivered to those who were no longer able to get to church or creating a mosaic to enhance the space where the faith community gathered for worship.
The continuity of practicing rituals reminded us of the things we had in common with faith communities in our neighborhood and around the globe. The offering reminded us of God’s gifts to us and gave us an opportunity to share those gifts in service to others. The Lord’s Prayer united us in prayer with people who were praying that same prayer around the world. The goodbye song reminded us of God’s faithful care for all until we could gather to explore faith together again.
I am grateful to God for the Sunday school teachers in my life who were models of comfort, connections, and continuity. One hour a week, in a little country church, had a life-changing impact on the faith and life of this child.