Five-year-old Will proudly held up the card he brought for his Sunday school teacher. “Look at my name!” he insisted, giggling as he pointed to the extra three letters he had creatively tacked onto his full name. Before anyone could comment, he set the card on the table and ran around the room. His joy and enthusiasm made me smile.
Then another boy walked into the room slowly, clutching a potted geranium and card that he handed to his teacher. Accepting the gift, she expressed her thanks and gave the boy a big gift bag in return. The four Sunday school children each received large gift bags from the teacher, their names on cards tied with a ribbon. Inside each bag were summer gifts: a beach towel and a manila envelope full of activities for them to review their lessons about Jesus and His love.
This was not my class or my students, but I gladly joined their last day of Sunday school before summer. The COVID pandemic had locked me down for over a year and shut me out of in-person ministries. Excited to be fully vaccinated, I joined the Sunday school class with the intent of volunteering in the fall. I enjoyed seeing these kids thank their teacher. What a thoughtful teacher who challenged her students with summer learning materials!
After the gift exchanges, the teacher expertly drew the kids’ attention to the lesson. With her two-year-old by her side, the teacher gave each child a pamphlet of stapled sheets of colored construction paper. Using this wordless book, she asked the children to turn the pages and follow along as she presented the Gospel of Jesus. She explained the concepts at a four to six-year-old level of understanding, patiently guided them, and asked questions to assess their understanding.
Part-way through the book, the teacher gave an object lesson using balloons. Given time and space to move around, the kids got out of the chairs to keep their balloons in the air. A great break for littles who don’t sit long, the jumping and balloon-batting brought lots of giggles. Until it didn’t, when one boy ran out of the room in anger because the two-year-old touched his balloon.
I followed the boy into the playroom and tried to talk him into returning to the classroom. He refused, so I watched and listened as he worked things out while climbing on the plastic slide. He vented his anger about the two-year-old, who in his mind was trying to steal his balloon. When the teacher looked out the classroom door, the boy began to cry, but then he walked back into class.
When the teacher finished the wordless book, she introduced a board game. The board spaces included Bible verses and concepts that reviewed the year’s Sunday school lessons. She had prepped everything: colored game ‘boards’ pasted onto construction paper, play pieces cut out, and buttons used as board pieces. The teacher’s attention to students’ needs became obvious as she guided each child to take a turn. Afterward they each received a game of their own to take home.
I felt honored to be a part of this Christ-based curriculum presented by a young mom who poured love and support into her students. Playing and learning about Jesus, Will and his enthusiastic classmates brought energy and fun to my morning.
Lord, please open up hearts and minds to learn more about you as Sunday school and other ministries resume after the lifting of long-imposed COVID restrictions. Motivate people to volunteer, sharing the truth of Christ with your precious children, in churches and ministries all over the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.