Post-Easter Sunday excitement, wiggles and sugar-hangovers made the Good News Club a little more challenging last week. After a few songs and teaching about the resurrection via the account of the two disciples who met the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, it was craft and review time. The room divided up by grade to work on a few peel-and-stick crafts and see who could remember a few things from the story that day. Conversation and laughter filled the room, but everything remained under control — except for a few boys in the second grade group. The adult working with that group could have used a few dogs from the herding group to help corral those nine children. I was done teaching for the day so I tapped the four boys on the shoulder and said, “You guys come with me.”
Last Monday afternoon’s Good News Club was, let’s say, “spirited.” Anytime you get within spitting distance of Christmas, there will be a surplus of kid energy filling any size room. It was review week, which brings out the highly competitive side of the group as well.
So we reviewed our bible stories from the last five week: Jesus turning water into wine, meeting with Nicodemus, talking to a woman by a well, healing a nobleman’s child and restoring sight to a blind man. I am always impressed at how much they remember, because sometimes it doesn’t seem like anyone is paying attention at all.
Then, after a few songs, the room suddenly got quiet. I know, I was shocked, too, as well as the rest of our team. Review weeks include a Gospel spotlight, and the room-hushing moment was when I told them that God knows everything about them, including all the bad things. We’ve told them that before. Plenty of times. As a group and individually. Maybe some secular holiday influence helped me out here. I don’t know. All I know is that you could her a pin drop, and that never, ever happens in our club.
“God knows everything about you. He knows everything you’ve ever done.” The look on the their eyes and the silent words on their lips said, “What? Are you kidding?” More than a few adults react the same way.
“Even all the bad things…” When the Law does its work, it is a powerful moment because it sets up the Gospel so perfectly. “But he still loves you.” How do I know? It says right here “God so loved the world…” And there’s that powerful and humbling moment when you get to talk about Jesus.
Your experience may be different, but those moments don’t come around very often for me. The story is more often punctuated by “Hey, zip up” and “Is anybody sitting up?” “No, you can’t have more candy,” and “No, it’s not time to go home yet.” When those moments do happen, I know it’s the Holy Spirit at work. No doubt in my mind. I’ve proven that I can’t make it happen, so I’ll gladly give Him all the credit. And I’ll always be thankful that I can be there to see those moments happen.
Next week I’ll be teaching the Christmas story. I’ll let you know what happens.
Well, it was actually more like a “pop.” But it worked. I popped a plastic shopping bag filled with air and got the attention of the forty-some children who writhed on the floor at Good News Club today.
The lesson was on creation. I wonder how many of them had heard that the world began with a “bang” some billions of years ago? I wonder how many of them had heard the biblical account of creation? Some of them worshiped weekly with the families at churches in our community. Some have never been. As I taught a lesson I’ve read, studied, heard and discussed many times in my own lifetime, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to hear it for the first time — as a child or an adult.
What would they take home from this? What would stick in their minds? I know from experience that it’s totally unpredictable. Some might marvel at the creative power of God’s voice. It all happened when he spoke, “Let there be…” Others might grab onto God’s evaluation of his work: “It was good.” I hope that some were captivated by their personal connection to the creation. After all, we too were knitted together in our mother’s womb, and are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13,14).
Since I am so familiar with the story, I think I wrongly assume that everyone is. Even in the church, I believe many have forgotten their Creator, His creation, and their own place in that creation. Perhaps if we talked more about that, we would place greater value on the lives of other created people. Like people who look different than us. Or those who need someone to take care of them. Or those who are crying for help, for a chance, or for love.
The biblical account of creation has much to say to a world where climate change, racism and human lives are headline news. We were created to take care of this world and take care of each other. Science might have a lot of answers, but it doesn’t bring that message. Theology may not have all the answers, but it drives home that point. If this world is worth dying for, then it must be pretty important to God. You must be pretty important to God.
If we brought that to the table, maybe we would get somewhere when we talked about global warming, hunger and poverty, war and human rights, fair trade and economic justice, and war and peace.
Today’s guest post was contributed by my grandson Elijah David Kendall.
My mom took me to the Alpha Pregnancy Center in Palm Coast, FL today. I have to confess, I dozed off during the ride over, even though it was only a few minutes from my house. I awoke to the bright afternoon sun when my grandpa lifted me out of my mom’s car. Who would have suspected that such a wonderful place would be tucked in behind some storage units and a strip mall!
When grandpa pushed a call button and announced our arrival, a very nice lady welcomed us at the door. I knew in a moment this was a place where moms and babies were VIPs. The walls were covered with baby pictures and I saw piles of blankets for babies. There were so excited that we had brought with us a car load of diapers and baby wipes that were donated during last week’s Vacation Bible School. I met a very nice woman named Jessica in the reception area, and then Martha, the director, came around the corner and greeted us. I recognized her voice, for she had come to speak at our church few months ago before my birthday. But it was even better to see her in person. She was so happy to see me, too.
Martha gave us a tour of their building. I got to see the counseling area, a classroom filled with resources, and a room filled with baby clothes. So many people had donated so much for babies that hadn’t even been born yet! I felt pretty important and very, very loved. Do you know that people from my church fill up baby bottles with change to help moms take care of their babies? Someday I’m gong to do that, too. Over sixty moms come in every month for support, encouragement and direction.
After our tour, grandpa talked with Martha about Child Evangelism Fellowship and the Good News Clubs. I wanted to say, “Sign me up!” but I think I’m a little too young. So I just politely listened. Afterwards, we went to Panera to hang out. Mom and Grandpa had some iced coffee and a snack. At first, I was a little grumpy because they didn’t order anything for me. But it turns out Mom had a snack for me, so I felt better. In fact, I felt so good, I even smiled for a few pictures.
I am so glad I got to go to Alpha today. I think everyone should go there at least once. I know I’m a little prejudiced, but I think babies are pretty important. Jesus did, too. As soon as I figure out how to fold my hands, I’ll be praying for moms and babies, too, thanking God for the gift of life!
Elijah is two months old and lives in Ormond Beach, FL.