I have been teaching Sunday School again this month. Its getting closer to Christmas and the kids have had plenty to say. I have learned long ago that if you expect them to sit in rapt silence as you tick off points of theology, you're in the wrong place. This last week I found this especially true. I had AJ in my class. I have taught a lot of AJs through the years. Those special boys who make plenty of noise, but not much of it about religion.
I have come to appreciate that noise. (It's the quiet brooders like me you have to worry about, right?) If you give the AJs some space, let them fly a paper airplane or two, they let you say your piece. I think God prefers honest revelry to board and false piety.
We sat in a circle on the floor and talked about Isaiah and his prophecy. "What is a prophecy?" And now they are silent. If you want to quiet a room of squirming 4th and 5th graders just ask them to participate in a theological discussion.
"Have any of you read Harry Potter or seen the 5th movie?" The room is filled again will excited voices all scrambling for their answers to be heard. The chosen one. Yes. Kind of. The difference being, of course, that Jesus was not The chosen one. He was not a Moses or David. We talked about the miraculous story of how God sent Himself to Earth in human form. And the kids rattled off the story of how Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem where no rooms were available at the inn (it was the holidays, after all), and so God was born in a stable, wrapped in cloths and laid in a feed trough and worshipped by shepherds summoned by angels and by Eastern dignitaries who had followed a star.
And? That was always what I wanted to know. So what? Why is this baby important? Because he grew up to be a wonderful counselor, an everlasting father, a prince of peace. He taught us to love our neighbors, to help people. I explained that Jesus, the baby grew up, and did the things Isaiah vaguely describes. (Vague promises are the key to any great prophecy.)
AJ was getting restless. He asked me if I thought baby Jesus ever had poopy diapers. Of course he did. I think he even cried. The next question was about farts. Boyhood never takes a break, even when the Holy Messiah is on his way.