Justice and Mercy
Freezing Fog. Who even knew that such a thing existed? We went outside last night at about 9pm to walk the dog, and the whole neighborhood was in a fog bank. I’m used to fog in the morning, but this was eerie and strange. And then, I wake up this morning, and find out that this strange fog is freezing on the roads and cars. I’ve never heard of such a thing.
Anyway, moving beyond my fascination with meteorological events, I am teaching Sunday school this Sunday. The lesson scheduled is based on 1 Timothy 5:1-8, 17-24. I thought I would break with tradition this week (maybe the freezing fog has startled me out of normalcy) and actually read the lesson prior to Saturday night.
According to the literature, the purpose of the lesson is “to encourage us to honor our brothers and sisters in Christ.” (See also, Current Event Supplement). I wanted to take a portion of the lesson today, and consider, in its light, something I read last week. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 says, “Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, to older women a mothers, to younger women as sisters – with absolute purity.”
I read the following on a blog called Cerulean Sanctum (by Dan Edelen) in a series of posts about 21 Steps to a 21st Century Church.
It bothers me that at most churches the second a family hits the lobby they scatter. Mom goes to her MOPS class, Dad goes to his men's class, while each child is sent to a separate classroom. Poof! They're vapor. We talk about unity of the Body, but the designs of our churches and their programs tell a different story.Do we do that? Our church is definitely organized for Sunday school based on age (roughly in the older classes, but it’s still there). When I first read the post, I took exception to it. Yes, our family is just like the one described, with kids running to two different classes, and my husband and I going to an “adult” class (Notice the quotation marks. If you were in our class, you would understand why.). My first reaction included these thoughts:
The singles are herded into a corral with other equally sexually frustrated people and we expect them to behave. Nor do we really want to know what they're up to so long as they don't whine about it.
Same goes for the elderly, because God knows that once you're old you no longer have any viable purpose. (No wait, perhaps I'm confusing the Church in America for the movie Logan's Run.)
- Our children need to be in age appropriate classes. I am so grateful that adults in our church have agreed to spend their Sunday school time teaching our children about God. It’s not an abdication of my responsibility as a parent; it’s a wonderful, God-given supplementation of our efforts as parents.
- I don’t think we have a “singles” class in our church. We are more “age driven” than that. I do worry sometimes about those in our church who are single (whether in all of life, or only while in the church). Do they feel alone? Is being part of a “pair” so ingrained into our church routine that someone not part of a “pair” would feel excluded?
- Do we shuttle our elderly off into a corner because we no longer consider them to be useful? Our “oldest” class is an interesting group of people. They have been together to years. As I understand it, their class began its life in controversy – men and women meeting in the SAME class for Sunday school? Outrageous! Anyway, they have grown old together. They aren’t hiding in a corner; they are an active and integral part of our church. They (I hope) are together because they have built something wonderful over the years – a fellowship – a supportive and dynamic Christian group. They are together because they choose to be together, learning about God’s word, reading the Bible, sharing their strengths and dividing their weaknesses. They aren’t hidden in the corner. They are a model for the rest of us.
I think Dan missed the mark. I think age-defined Sunday schools are fine. Our church needs these “small groups” for ministry to each other. But what do we do when we leave Sunday school? Are we the Family of God the other 167 hours of the week?
On another note, keep your fingers crossed for G, who is trying out for all-county band this afternoon. S and he practiced last night – dueling trumpets. I hope the neighbors didn’t mind. Maybe it just added to the foggy “atmosphere.”