Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sneezing Jesus

I have this crazy professor (ask Jason Westbrook and he will testify to this) that has the most bizarre way of phrasing things. Last night in class he said, "I almost bought the domain name"

We were all laughing too hard at first to take him seriously, but then he began to explain. He said that for the rest of his life, with whatever time he has left, he wants to "be viral" in his belief of Jesus Christ. He expressed a desire to live in such a way that his belief in Jesus Christ is contagious. You see, the only way the world is going to catch this "virus" is for us to go out and, well...sneeze on them.

As a bunch of ministry students, you wouldn't think we would find this profound right? I mean, this is what we are in school for. But in all actuality, we all get so caught up in our "to do list" and programming life that, even as ministers it is profoundly difficult to find time to sneeze Jesus to the world. It is hard to find time to "be viral" and different because just like everyone else, the pace of our lives tempts us to put evangelism off for a more convenient time. "One of these days I'll get all my life in one pile and THEN I'll be able to devote more time to being on mission for Jesus everyday...As soon as I get this one thing behind me Lord, then you can send me out...When I know more about what to say to others and when I can carry out the logical argument, then you can put me there Lord..."

The excuses abound. I hem and haw and procrastinate and pray for more wisdom while the world continues to wander about in a wasteland of confusion, guilt and doubt. The saddest thing is: God doesn't want me to "have it all together" before I am sent out. As a matter of fact, the Biblical track record suggests that he kind of prefers screws ups like me to deliver his message. And all I really need is the message of the gospels. The Bible will really do it's stuff if I'll just do a halfway decent job of representing it and then share it with others and let it do it's thing with them. I just need to get out of the way and let the Bible do it's stuff - in my life first and then just share that experience with others.

So that is what "sneezing Jesus" is all about. This is one of the only times of the year when the world even recognizes Jesus existed. I hope I don't blow my chance to sneeze on someone this week.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Passing of a Legend

One of the most intimidating things in my job description, by far, is helping children somehow deal with death. This week has been particularly challenging as we've lost a legend within our Sunday School ministry. The impact Mr. Bob made in his 10+ year tenure as our 3rd - 5th grade boys teachers is immeasurable. However, I found quickly that just his presence on our hallway affected and impacted not just the boys he taught but the girls on the hallway as well.
Maybe it was the creative way he taught. People have joked that Mr. Bob was so old that he used antiquated ways of communicating "but he didn't give up his flannel graph until the end". The truth of the matter is, Bob was far more inclined the have the boys make paper airplanes (really, really good ones) and then challenge them to fly them across the balcony of the Sanctuary. Of course, no matter how good the plane was that is a pretty big distance to cover with a paper airplane. Just when the boys would be worn out and discouraged from running the stairs to retrieve their airplane and start again, Mr. Bob would stop them and say, "Boys, this airplane is like us...we just can't make it the distance to God alone...we needed Jesus." It was this kind of creative thought pattern that kept his 80-something year old brain young enough to communicate deep truths of the Bible with people of all ages.
I was prepared for our children to be devastated. My own son has fervently prayed for Bob every night of his hospital stay. When Bob didn't make it to Jerusalem Noah said, "who was that guy in the Carpenter's Shop and where is Bob". You know us autistics...we like things to stay the same. I know of other boys, too, who were going to grieve terribly over the passing of this great friend. And I wasn't wrong. There are some children whom I will be counseling for weeks to come. What I didn't anticipate was some of the other reactions.
These encounters are why Jesus held up the faith of a child as the gold standard:

"Mom, for Sunday lunch today let's do something special," Noah says. I inwardly groan because I was kind of counting on Easy Mac. "What's the special occasion Noah?" "Oh, I just want to celebrate because Mr. Bob has a new body to tell people about Jesus in. Let's celebrate his new body!" So much for Easy Mac...we had a Cowboy Bob Hot Dog feast and watched The Tales of Desperaux because Noah said it was an adventure tale about courage and "believing things" that made him think about Mr. Bob. Wow.

"Miss Vangie, do you want to know 2 freaky things?!" (These conversations usually never end well but I have no choice but to say yes.) "Well, I can't decide if it is a coincidence that Mr. Bob died on this week of Jerusalem. I don't think so because firstly, now we know what it is like to loose our carpenter too. And second, I just think Jesus wanted to let Mr. Bob be in heaven for Easter Sunday. He is really going to like that!" I kissed her sweet head and thanked her for sharing her freaky thoughts with me.

I've struggled with what to do with our Sunday School program during the weeks following Marketplace in Jerusalem. I've come to the conclusion that there is no one who I can put in that classroom this spring. The boys just won't be ready. So I wrote a Bible Skills unit "Mr. Bob Style". I think it is something he'd be proud to teach. How the Bible works and was put together was very important to Bob. So for April and May, we're going to combine the kids and do it like that.

I’d like to lovingly dedicate this unit to the memory of Bob Hodge whose years of fearless Sunday School teaching will live in the hearts of children forever. Bob was respected by our children, even as an elderly person, as someone who cared enough to share his knowledge of scripture with those not as far along as he. His tireless efforts to make the Bible come alive in the hearts and minds of children will inspire me for the rest of my life.

So Mr. Bob…”sound off…ONE, TWO…sound off…THREE, FOUR…sound off…ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR…” This one is for you:)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Check Me Out

So I'm so really "web 2.0" - I don't know what that means but I hear Duane say that a lot.

I really just wanted another forum to make announcements and let everyone in on the cool things I see in our ministry to children each week. Everyone always tells me "you've got to write this stuff down". (Really Duane wants me to write books because of the royalties so that he can retire...he has this idea that I will be the "Beth Moore of Children's Ministry" loader.)

So today I learned how to Blog, how to make revisions to our swcc kids webpage and other stuff I've already forgotten. I promise to make an effort to keep all of this stuff:

1. up to date
2. funny
3. thought provoking
4. informative
5. insightful...if it comes from our kids it can't be anything but

So I'm excited:)

peace out...vs