The answer seems obvious: to teach the Bible, catechism, or whatever lesson we've been assigned. But I wonder if it’s more nuanced than that.
For some of our kids the Bible is brand new. Each story is seen with fresh eyes—all the strange plot twists are full of surprises! For others, the stories are familiar and seem tame. They all boil down to statements like God is good, God is powerful, God deserves our praise and obedience.
How can we make the time we have with kids a time of discovery—a time to encounter God in the story and see where God is at work in our lives? A place where aha moments happen even for kids who have heard the story three dozen times?
This Sunday my pastor was preaching about the fear of God—about Puah and Shiphrah, the midwives who refused to obey Pharaoh’s command to take the lives of the baby boys of Israel. He mentioned Pharaoh’s daughter so boldly defying her father. Knowing that the baby boy was a Hebrew and adopting him nonetheless. Seeing the woman that the young girl fetched to care for him—she must have known he was the boy’s mother—breasts swollen, ready to nurse! Hearing the story told this way was an aha moment for me. Perhaps Pharaoh’s daughter wasn’t just a naive princess who thought the little baby in the basket was cute. Or a spoiled princess who always got what she wanted, even when it was against the law. Perhaps God stirred in her the courage to stand against the Pharaoh for what was right. An astonishing, providential act of resistance.
Pastor Jack also mentioned that the word translated basket in this story is actually “ark”—the same word used in the rescue of Noah’s family from the flood. Once again, the whole future of a people depended on the success of an ark. God used it to delivered Moses so that he could deliver his people. He was rescued to be a rescuer.
These stories are so rich and multifaceted. I think we have to work as Sunday school teachers to discover them anew for ourselves. To see the angles we’ve never seen before. To ask questions of the text and wonder about the fascinating ways that God works so that we can bring that awe, that aha, into the classroom with us and invite the children in.
It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to spark the flame of passion in each child’s heart, but it’s our work to show them the Spirit glowing within us, moving us to see the ways that God is rescuing the world both then and now and calling us to courageous acts that extend God’s blessing far beyond our own lives.