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Thinking about Sunday School & being streaky

April 15, 2014

A new minister decides to visit his Sunday School. He’s not too good with young children and a bit stern. He walks in and all these little eager faces look up at him. He freezes. Then stares hard at them and says, “Well. If all the good children were green and all the bad children were blue, what colour would you be?” Now lots of alarmed faces look at him, and little Jack begins to cry. Then after an age of awkwardness Mary pipes up and says, “Revd. if all the good children were green and all the bad children were blue, I’d be streaky!” (Based on a story by Anthony De Mello)

I never went to Sunday School – well almost never. I was in the Boys’ Brigade for a while and going to Sunday School was compulsory. I vaguely remember quite enjoying it but that all stopped when I left the Boys’ Brigade. But I do know that many people have warm and happy memories of Sunday School. My father-in-law fondly remembers the Sunday School trips away often to the seaside: A real treat from someone growing up just after the war in a large city like Liverpool.

When Sunday School works it gives a real opportunity for children to explore the faith in ways that have meaning for them. Sunday School should then be the springboard into a more adult growth in faith, perhaps through a Youth Group and then full membership of the Church.

Hopefully for you Sunday School has been a springboard to a deep and mature faith. A life of learning more and more about your faith. There’s so much more to learn and experience about God, no matter what your age or experience.

You see, going back to that story, I’ve found that I’m streaky and so is everyone else that I’ve met. I’m not perfect and that’s why I keep on learning and finding ways to let God make me ever more the person I should be, the person I was born to be. It’s the same for all of you. I’m pretty sure that you’re streaky too. That’s not a bad thing, not a complaint, just a fact of life.

I am streaky, all people are streaky and Jesus came to help us out.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is right, there is a time for all things (Cf. Ecclesiastes 3). There was a time for Sunday School and now there is a time to learn and grow in different ways. But as you and I move on, Jesus warns us that our heavenly Father has, “hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” So we still need something of that simplicity and honesty that we had when we were younger. But why bother? As a child we had little choice about going to Sunday School and now there are so many things going on; why should we take all that time to keep learning about God and growing in our faith?

Well I keep going because I know I’m streaky, and want to be better. But to be honest I can very easily say to myself, “Well, I’m not perfect, but I’m not all that bad. Why bother learning and praying and seeking after God? Why not take it easy?” I listen to that voice and I could very easily do just that. I’ve just come from a well paid job so I could probably find something else to pay the bills if I stopped being a vicar. I could trust to what I’ve already learned about God and leave it there.

I could… but that would be to forget something really important. The fact that I’ve found that by following Christ, by being open to the Spirit, life is better too. Life is more full of meaning and purpose. It is as though, with the Spirit in me, the colours that little bit more vivid. I am getting closer to the creator of me and all things so how could it be different? So I know that in the good times being close to God makes those times even better, deeper and more meaningful.

I also know that good times don’t last for ever. I’ve been through a number of painful events and who knows what is round the corner. This experience too has shown me that God’s Spirit is there with me guiding me through these times too. I have learned through experience that Jesus was not lying when he said, “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” (Matthew 11.28-30)

Life is streaky, I’m streaky and God understands. He more than understands, through Jesus he has acted to give me the way to live as a streaky person in a streaky world, and to live with hope and purpose. I hope that your Sunday School experiences lead you too into a faith that is as wonderful for you, streaky as you are.

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