The title of this blog post comes from a hymn text by Ruth Duck. (We will sing the full hymn on Sunday.) Rosi and I thought it was a fitting text given that this Sunday we will be celebrating our Sunday school teachers and the way instruction in the faith can be a Doorway into radical discipleship (our worship series theme this month).
Some of my favorite doors to walk in and out of in the church are our SS classrooms. Why? Just look at these photos!
By the looks of these photos our teachers care for the lives entrusted to them, teaching about and modeling God’s love for the world. If that isn’t holy work I don’t know what is.
I once knew a Sunday school teacher, Bertha Harder, who would come to church first thing every Monday morning. She wanted to read over the curriculum and prepare the room for the coming Sunday. “The children will know if I’ve been here ahead of time to prepare,” she said. At Bertha’s funeral I suggested that Bertha was an “arounder,” a phrase Timothy Geddert uses in his commentary on Mark chapter 10. Bertha tried to position her life around Jesus and invited children around her to do the same. More than that, over her lifetime she taught children that Jesus’ circle involved espousing inverted values-values the world may not always prize: service, humility, welcoming the weak and protecting the vulnerable.
I think we have many “arounders” here at Rainbow. Even Mike Peters, our high school teacher, finds creative ways to talk about Jesus’ inverted values. Here he is standing on his head. He was making some kind of point about how hard it is to read the Beatitudes upside down, and how it’s even harder to live the Beatitudes in our daily life.
This Sunday we (learners, teachers and pilgrims) will consider Deuteronomy 6:1-9, we will give Bibles to soon-to-be 4th graders, we will recognize our Sunday School teachers, and we will give Hymnals to our high school graduates. Maybe there will even be some head standing. You never know at Rainbow.