It wasn't perfect because everything went according to plan or because all the teachers have a professional teaching background or because the all children were little angels. It was perfect because adults and children were deeply authentic with one another sharing both times of silence and conversation as imperfect but totally loved children of God.
We tried something new. We gathered the 3rd -6th grade classes together for large group and small group conversation. Together we watched a segment of a DVD from Weird Animals VBS (Group Publishing) about being different and how we are all God's masterpiece. As I introduced the story, I asked everyone if there have been times they felt different: in school, on a team, at church or maybe in their own family. There was lots of nodding of heads. We agreed that it can be difficult or sad when we are singled out for our differences.
After watching someone else's story, groups were formed so that everyone could share parts of their own story. The groups were made up of different aged students and not necessarily the same teachers they have had so far this year.
The sharing and vulnerability that followed amazed me. I walked around the room and heard both students and adults sharing times when they felt different or singled out. Everyone was listening intently and respectful of the other's experiences. It was a safe place....even for those who were not ready to share. One 5th grade girl raised her hand in her group and said, "I have felt like that boy in the video but I don't really want to talk about it now." Everyone in her group let that level of sharing be ok.
Because the gospel for the day was the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:4-11), we made the connection to our baptism. We are all claimed and loved by God, just as we are. As the video stated, "We all are God's masterpiece." In voicing and sharing our stories, we acknowledge our own and each other's beloved relationship with God.
I want those students (and those teachers) to know that church is not a place where we have to be perfect. I want them to know in their bones it is a place where broken imperfect people come to share in God's perfect love for all of us. We are a gift to each other in the sharing of ourselves and our stories as we live into the grace of God.
So...thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit...Sunday School was perfect yesterday.