I truly enjoy teaching junior church.
Okay, so the preliminaries are not always fun or convenient. It takes planning and preparation to teach a class of four-to twelve-year-olds. And as my family knows, I am not a morning person, particularly on Sundays, when I have to get up earlier than usual. Sometimes, I think it would be such a treat to have the day off from teaching, to just sit in church with my husband and comfortably warm the pew. But when I walk into the classroom at church and my kids say, “Hi, Miss Meredith! Good morning, Miss Meredith!”—well, that’s the sweetest caffeine jolt ever.
On Sunday, my class sang in front of the congregation. As always, they practiced loudly and enthusiastically, then sang a little less so in front of the adults. Nerves always seem to stifle their voices a bit, but they still did well. Then we headed back to the classroom and began our time together with prayer requests. As always, they had unique concerns to share (you can read more about that in a prior blog post). After prayer time, we practiced for our upcoming Christmas program. It may seem early, but I only have about eight practice sessions with them before the big day in early December.
I watched their earnest faces as they sang, “C is for the Christ child…,” some with eyes squinted in concentration, lips barely moving as they worked on learning the words. Others more familiar with the song sang confidently, if a bit off-key. In the back of my mind, I thought about what it takes for each one to come to church. Some arrive without having breakfast, or a bath the night before. Their shirts might not be buttoned up correctly, and they might be missing socks. Although some come from loving homes, others do not, and I hear bits and pieces of their stories through their prayer requests: prayer that God would help them as they have a rare meeting with an absent father, for example.
Yet, they come. As I considered all this, smiling and singing along with them all the while, I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I had grumbled that morning about getting up early, ashamed that I had considered preparing my lesson that week to be yet another job on an endless to-do list, ashamed that I had not loved as Christ loved. Instead, I had felt obligated.
In Scripture’s famous “love chapter,” Paul reminds us that unless love motivates the acts of service we do for Christ, they mean nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.—I Corinthians 13:3
At the end of Sunday’s class time, one of the kids asked if we could have hot chocolate in class next week. I said that of course we would. Another asked for a storybook, and another asked for some special games, and before we knew it, we’d planned a little party along with our Christmas program practice.
And I don’t mind the extra work one bit.